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Resume Fraud: Detecting White Lies

While employers and human resource professionals may like to believe that all job candidates are honest about their past experience and education, this is unfortunately not the case. Resume fraud is becoming more prevalent in today’s marketplace, and it is important for employers to know if they are truly hiring who they think they’re hiring.

Applicants embellish their credentials on resumes and job applications for various reasons. In a competitive job market, individuals seek to set themselves apart from their opponents. High rates of unemployment make people desperate to stand out, and many feel one of the only ways to do this is to lie about their qualifications on their resumes. A 2012 study completed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that some key reasons job seekers lie on resumes include envy of others succeeding, a lack of confidence in their job search ability, and a history of past deviant behavior. Job hunters are no longer simply exaggerating their work history and education credentials, they are completely making things up. Verifying both past work experience and education is a crucial step for employers when selecting an applicant to work for their company.

Top Ten Resume Lies
1. Stretching dates of employment
2. Inflating past accomplishments and skills
3. Enhancing titles and responsibilities
4. Enhancing education and fabricating degrees
5. Unexplained gaps and periods of “self employment”
6. Omitting past employment
7. Faking credentials
8. Falsifying reasons for leaving prior employment
9. Providing fraudulent references
10. Misrepresenting military record
Source: Marquet International consulting firm

The importance of verifying resumes is evident in the case of Matthew Martoma, a former SAC Capital Advisers employee. In early February, Martoma was convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud, and insider trading. Events like this do happen and it can be hard to predict these occurrences. However, court transcripts show that Martoma was expelled from Harvard Law School after forging a transcript to submit for a clerkship. Uncovering this type of information could have made his former employer think twice before hiring him, which could have prevented the damages the company experienced. Hiring individuals who lie on their resume puts employers at extreme risk, and is something that can be avoided by performing background checks and verifications.

Another trend closely related to lying on a resume is the issue of diploma mills. Diploma mills are unaccredited schools that offer degrees for little or no work, and provide little, if any education. While there are thousands of fake schools in the diploma mill industry, most of them fall into one of two categories: a) those that openly sell degrees for cash, and customers know that they are paying for a fake degree; and b) those that pretend to be real schools and students “graduate” thinking that they have earned an actual degree. Either way, hiring applicants that have obtained a degree from a diploma mill is another risky move for employers. People who claim to have degrees but never did any work to earn them are probably not prepared to take on the duties necessary for the job and do not have the proper foundation to build upon. Recently, a school administrator in Providence, RI was found to have knowingly obtained a degree from a diploma mill. The team of journalists investigating this story was able to purchase a Ph.D. over the phone in as little as ten minutes. Hiring an individual who simply ordered a degree has many repercussions for employers. Verifying education is crucial for employers when hiring a new employee.

It is also important to verify professional licenses that people claim to have. For example, suppose someone claimed to have a professional license in dentistry on their resume, yet they only made it through one year of dentistry school and never actually received that license. If that person were hired as a dentist without having their license verified and an incident occurred during a procedure with a patient, the office would be in serious trouble. By verifying professional licenses, companies avoid damaging lawsuits that could have serious negative effects on their business.

Performing thorough background checks and verifications is the most effective way to uncover false truths on a resume. Reputable background screening companies such as Hire Image train their staff to be extremely thorough in the verification process and recognize diploma mills. Performing this highly valuable procedure could prevent your company from experiencing the unfortunate – and costly – repercussions of fraudulence.

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