Recruiting

What is Résumé Fraud?

Résumé fraud occurs anytime someone intentionally provides false information on his or her résumé, presumably with the hopes it will make him or her more likely to be considered for a job. This often also encompasses application fraud—which is the same idea, but it occurs anywhere in the application process.

There are even business services out there that will knowingly assist candidates with changing their résumé in this way, such as offering advice on how to hide employment gaps or how to add false information that looks realistic. Some will even provide fake transcripts and fake letters of recommendation.

Here are some examples of résumé fraud:

  • Listing a degree or certification that was never attained. Sometimes this can be a complete fabrication. Other times it may be that the individual was indeed enrolled in such a program but simply never finished. Or it could be as simple as lying about how well the person performed in the program, such as claiming a high GPA when that was not what was earned.
  • Significantly inflating previous responsibilities, indicating the individual has much deeper experience than he or she does in reality. This could be as simple as only listing the last position held at an organization, but listing all years worked there—implying, incorrectly, that the individual held the most senior position for longer.
  • Providing fake references, such as giving a friend’s contact information, claiming he or she was actually the person’s former boss.
  • Covering employment gaps by misrepresenting which years the individual worked at previous organizations, or simply listing more years to appear to have more experience.

Employers clearly are in a position to be harmed by résumé fraud. An employer may unwittingly hire an individual who isn’t actually qualified to do the job. Such an individual may end up costing the company a lot in terms of lost productivity, mistakes, lost customers, extra training, and lots of administrative time. Someone who is willing to lie to get a job may not be trustworthy in other ways.

What Can Employers Do to Combat Résumé Fraud?

While it may be almost expected that a large percentage of people will embellish their accomplishments, the real risk is when there are outright falsehoods anywhere in the application process. Here are some steps employers can take to minimize the risk:

  • Be serious about background checks. If you’ve had a high incidence of résumé or application fraud, consider hiring a third-party service to conduct a more thorough check to confirm all credentials are correct. Employment screening services may have more current knowledge of what to look out for.
  • Be specific when asking questions about an applicant’s background. Ask for examples of accomplishments or for more details to confirm that individual’s knowledge and skill level. Look for specific answers from the job applicant, rather than overly vague responses. Be wary when someone won’t provide specific details about former employment.
  • Be strategic when calling references. When calling references, if appropriate, call the place of business and ask for that person rather than calling a cell phone number. This allows a layer of verification that the person is who they say they are. Additionally, consider seeking out your own references to call in addition to the ones provided. For example, ask people you know who may know the individual, too. Consider reaching out to previous employers and speaking with others who have worked with the person.

Has your organization encountered résumé fraud? What steps have you taken to combat this issue?