Why More People Are Lying on Their Resumes

H.R. expert explains the uptick in falsified resumes…and what to do about it

A recent survey found that over 85 percent of people lie or embellish on their resumes…and deception is on the rise.

Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, says, “In today’s competitive job market, many people are ‘padding’ their resume to help them get in the door. Many people don’t even consider it to be a dishonest thing to do. They figure it is like taking the shampoo bottles from a hotel room, something that is expected and allowed.”

So what are these applicants lying about, and what should employers do about it? Wilson says:

  1. Education. “Applicants tend to falsify their education histories. While most don’t outright lie about their B.A., they might pretend to have certifications or training that they actually don’t have. If an employer sees certificates on a employees’ resume, it would behoove them to inquire about it during the interview. Whether it’s a proficiency in Excel or knowing a second language, applicants tend to fudge their expertise in order to sound more impressive.”
  2. Length of employment at past jobs. “Many applicants try to hide a period of past unemployment by making it seem as though they worked longer at past jobs than they actually did. It’s one of the most important things to check up on when calling references.”
  3. References. “Speaking about references, many people use past coworkers as references, rather than actual managers. It’s an easy thing to fudge on a resume, which is why H.R. personnel need to actually look up the company’s director and find the actual executive in charge. Otherwise, you could be speaking with someone who knew your applicant as a Happy Hour buddy rather than an employee.”
  4. Job duties. “Applicants may pad their past job duties in order to sound more experienced. For example, an applicant may say that they had direct supervision over other employees or that they spearheaded certain initiatives at their past company. These are all things that need to be addressed both during the interview and when speaking with the applicant’s references.”
  5. Salary history. “People may lie about their salary history in order to help them gain an upper hand during salary negotiations at their next job. In fact, many people are now saying that employers should not even inquire about salary history due to wage inequality issues, and in fact New York City just passed a measure to ban employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.