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Jobs + Skills10.17.14

How To Catch A Liar Before They’re Hired

Fifty-eight percent of employers have caught candidates lying on their resumes. Here are some expert tips to spot the most common places applicants embellish.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in September, narrowing the margins even further for those still searching for a job. In this competitive landscape, it’s no wonder that people will try nearly anything to give themselves an edge. That includes playing with the truth of their past work experience.

In a nationwide Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder, more than half (58%) of hiring managers say they’ve caught lies on a resume and 33 percent noticed that more people are embellishing their credentials in the years since the recession. What’s surprising is that the candidates who didn’t tell the whole truth were not automatically disqualified. Though CareerBuilder didn’t track exactly which lies were deemed acceptable, 40 percent of hiring managers said they would still consider the candidate depending on the lie.

With between 100 and 1000 employees, the U.S. middle market encompasses some 200,000 businesses and is continuing to lead hiring this year, adding about 1 million people to their organizations, according to the National Center for the Middle Market. Some estimates place the number of applicants at more than 100 for each advertised job opening. That makes for a sizable pool of potential fibbers who might try to one-up their competition in an effort to land a position.

Among the more memorable lies, according to CareerBuilder:

  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.
  • Applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.
  • Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day, and not at all for the third.
  • Applicant applied to a position with a company that had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his resume that he had quit.

With more and more companies relying on applicant management software to separate the wheat from the chaff, it’s even more likely that a candidate who embellished their experience will land on a hiring manager’s list of people to interview.

Mid-MarketPulse talked to David Gilcher, lead resource manager at Kavaliro, an Orlando-based staffing firm, to get his take on how to spot five of the most common resume lies.

Job Title 

Gilcher says candidates promote themselves into a higher level role along with salary to go along with inflated responsibilities in their job description. “Dig into the resume and see if the work they listed syncs with what someone in that type of role would do,” Gilcher advises, “For example, an IT Manager would not normally field technical support calls as a primary responsibility.”


Gaps in employment are frequently fudged through dates. Gilcher suggests checking the resume against the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. “If it looks irregular, dig in with the candidate to address the discrepancy,” he says.


This is an easy one to get away with says Gilcher because companies do not verify salaries based on internal confidentiality policies and the hiring companies don’t perform salary verifications. To get around this, Gilcher says finding another candidate who worked in that company in the same role around the same timeframe can help determine if the salaries make sense. “Market knowledge of salaries can be extremely helpful, as you know if what’s being asked for makes sense for the local market based on location, level of experience, technical skills associated the job, etc.”


Many companies require degrees, even for some entry level positions, and may not even look at their credentials without a degree even if a candidate possesses years of practical experience, says Gilcher. Contact the school listed and ask for a transcript if there’s any doubt, he says.

Gilcher observes that “diploma mills” offer degrees without the necessary attendance. “Verifying a school’s accreditation and licensing can be used to determine the validity of a degree,” he says.

Professional Licensing

Faking credentials can have serious consequences including liability issues if the candidate is hired. Gilcher says many states have verification methods that can be accessed online to verify someone’s professional licensing. “Reference and employment checks are very important when it comes to individuals with professional licensing,” he underscores. “The previous employers have likely gone through their own verification checks and can also provide additional insight about the candidate’s performance in the job.”

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