What Should HR Do if a Resume Isn’t Truthful?


When you consult with most recruiters regarding the percentage of resumes crossing their desk with at least one containing untruthful information, you’ll be surprised with the results – unless you’re a recruiter, of course.

Because resumes containing exaggerations and lies have become commonplace, it’s difficult to find them without embellishments.

There’s a proliferation of surveys outlining precisely how many resumes are including exaggerations of some kind including one explicitly indicating that figures are up to 85%. Those who are trying to pass off lies aren’t escaping undetected, either. According to Robert Half’s data, approximately half of the workers in the U.S. (46%) know individuals with false information on their resumes, which is up 25% from the years 2011 to 2017.

Exaggerations Occur Most Often

InfoMart’s chief visionary officer and founder, Tammy Cohen, states that the findings from their internal data indicate that they’ve had more than 13% of their applicants exaggerate the dates of their employment on applications, even when there was a 31-day cushion included before and after for adjusting for lousy bookkeeping.

According to Brett Good, senior president for Robert Half, exaggeration of expertise is also common to see. He also states that when you see “involved in” or “familiar with” these could be indications that the applicant could be downplaying their lack of experience with these vague descriptions of skills. He further indicates that another red flag employers should look for is listing positions without months or large gaps in employment.

A suggestion by HR practice leader at StartEx, Emily Parra, is to think about how people are wording things. She indicates how unfortunate it is for individuals to use a bit of exaggeration or to tailor their accomplishments to make it appear as though they’ve got the experience you’re seeking.

Parra believes that, if you take some extra time to examine resumes, these efforts will help disclose elements that are overhyped, like companies and titles that don’t sound familiar or extravagant terms for what’s work that’s simple.

Is Lying Worth It?

It isn’t uncommon for some to blame bots, in particular, platforms used for screening applicants to weed out candidates not meeting minimum requirements or when the right keywords aren’t highlighted in their resumes. It’s irresistible for recruiters to see only qualified candidates, but no one anticipated searching for “how to beat resume scanning software” and it producing over a half million results. Evidently, this means candidates are finding lifehacks to beat headhunters.

According to Cohen, part of the blame for the abundance of resumes containing exaggerations regarding abilities and skills is AI. Candidates understand how vital keywords are; she further indicates, and they will use them to align themselves with positions further. Unfortunately, problems can occur before the job listing reaches the Internet.

Cohen further states that when job descriptions are built with artificial intelligence, they develop corresponding job postings that ultimately become the substance for embellishing keywords. When these keywords become established by the job description of the employer, they eventually become the criteria that resumes are scored and searched. She states that it’s to our detriment that, when we’re trying to attract better candidates by glorifying a position, we’re causing infiltration to our pipeline with exaggerated resumes to meet that position’s requirements.

Conversely, there may be some candidates who believe there may be no fact-checking occurring at all. According to a recent survey, nearly 46% of hiring managers indicated that they don’t bother checking information in the reference section. What this means for candidates is that, under most circumstances, odds are they’ll slip under the radar.

Is There Recourse?

It’s Cohen’s recommendation to return to basics to see past the exaggerations. It’s the recruiter’s responsibility to dive deep into work experiences using their interview savvy and ask candidates to back their experience claims using situational examples. The truth is often exposed using multiple follow-up questions.

While it isn’t uncommon for resumes to contain information that isn’t 100% true, what may be more important is focusing on seeing if what you need is included. Parra states that, if a potential candidate has the majority of what you’re seeking, but was untruthful regarding irrelevant points, those issues may be worth overlooking.

She further indicates that it’s essential to understand the mentality regarding candidates getting themselves seen. Often, the most significant things individuals exaggerate on may not be vital to you. What you’re seeking regarding experience may not have a listing on the resume or job description.

Dodging Your Risks

One consideration HR should make is updating job descriptions, even when utilizing AI products, to ensure the keywords included honestly speak to the needs of the employer. Instead of using platforms for screening candidates regarding information that’s non-critical, consider focusing on points that make for a notable candidate or new hire.

According to Good, organizations can utilize skills testing throughout the process to help identity the competency of the potential candidate. It’s also crucial for background checks to occur, more so that they were previously. Taking everything at face value is a critical mistake.

It isn’t uncommon for employers to search online for a candidate’s history, but the full picture isn’t always presented, according to Good. Under some circumstances, candidates with the same name could lead to different people. Therefore, if employers begin trolling professional or social networks, it should be done lightly because information that shouldn’t be accessed may be found.

It’s also a valuable resource to screen calls because it could provide you with the individual’s qualifications in a snapshot. Ask them to elaborate on anything that looks questionable on their resume. You may have found a lie if they’re unable to do so.

One of Parra’s suggestions is to arm hiring managers to assist them with honing in on potential talent. More training is requested by hiring managers, but few receive it regarding interviewing skills. During their first few interview sessions, sit with new managers, or provide them with training regarding the use of behavioral questions to help them delve deeper into the qualifications of the candidate.

Agreement Killers

If you’re feeling generous, you can chalk some exaggerations up to being human error. Others are out-in-out deal breakers. It’s a question of one’s integrity when someone lies about specific position’s they’ve held or their education or degree.

It’s possible to use a background check to confirm the reasons for leaving or gaps in employment, so their evasiveness and willingness to be honest must be weighed against what you find. It cannot be overstressed how much value a thorough vetting is necessary to assure a non-negligent, good hire.

Recruiters must rely on their interview skills and proper background checks to ensure their new hires are who they say they are to provide they’re ridding the applicant pool of resume lies.