How to Catch Résumé Fraud

Right now, organizations may be vying for the same candidates all at once, making hiring difficult. But nonetheless, no one wants to hire someone who lied about his or her relevant experience level. This is called résumé fraud, and it happens when applicants intentionally falsify information with the hopes of seeming more qualified.

resume fraud
Source: Oliver Le Moal / iStock / Getty

Here are some tips for employers to consider when trying to determine whether a candidate lied on his or her résumé:

  • Consider using a third party for background screening. Ask the company to include past employment and education verification as part of its process.
  • If you don’t use a third party for background screening, consider adding education and experience verification to your own background check process.
  • Watch for inconsistencies like past jobs that don’t seem to align with past experience.
  • Make sure to call references. When calling, ask questions that reference something related to that person’s work history with the applicant.
  • Consider calling others (beyond the listed contacts) at prior organizations. Calling the source directly can help you discover whether the candidate listed fake references.
  • Look on the applicant’s social media, especially sites like LinkedIn, where employment history is prominent. The information should match up with what’s provided to the employer. While this may not uncover everything, candidates are less likely to blatantly misrepresent themselves publicly.
  • Watch for little omissions, such as not listing a degree with a university or not listing specific dates for past jobs. These don’t necessarily mean a candidate is lying, but they could mean he or she is embellishing.
  • Watch for whether the applicant misused or overused industry jargon. This isn’t a foolproof method, but it can indicate the person is trying to inflate his or her skills or experience.
  • Pay attention to self-employed periods that seem strange. Although being self-employed is becoming more common, it can be used to cover up what was actually a job gap. If someone’s period of self-employment looks suspicious, consider speaking to the person’s former clients as references.
  • When possible, consider utilizing skill assessments as part of the recruiting process to ensure candidates have the skills they claim. Note in the job post that these types of assessments will be part of the process.
  • Ask questions about how candidates would handle different aspects of the job, such as questions that would require the experience the candidates claim they have to answer well.

Taking these steps may not always be necessary, but when a specific experience level and education make a big difference in someone’s ability to perform the job, it’s worth taking the extra steps to ensure the shortlisted candidates are representing themselves accurately.