Mike McSally,  July 24, 2015

Putting Lipstick on a Pig: Resume Embellishments can Easily Be Spotted With Proper Screening

To get the competitive edge, some candidates believe it is worth the risk to embellish their resume. To vigilant hiring managers, these falsifications can be uncovered — to ultimately save a company time, money, and their reputation.

When you hear the names Scott Thompson, George O’Leary, and Dave Edmondson, you might know what they have in common. They are all high-profile people that were either fired or forced to resign from a job for submitting false credentials. These are people whose salaries were $1 million a year and more. If they are willing to embellish their resumes, so are many others.

Getting Caught

Embellishing resumes is more common than ever in today’s business world. According to a CareerBuilder study, just 5 percent of workers admit to fibbing on their resume. The same study showed 57 percent of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a candidate’s application.

Of those who caught the lie, a whopping 93 percent did not hire the candidate because of it. More than likely, anyone who fudges their resume and is caught post-hire will face the same consequences as Yahoo’s now ex-CEO Scott Thompson — terminated employment.

Top Lies

Forbes says top resume embellishments include:

  • lying about getting a degree
  • exaggerating numbers
  • increasing previous salary
  • playing with dates
  • inflating titles

While it is important to check and validate the technical capabilities for candidates, it is also important to make sure the remainder of their resume is accurate.

Companies usually have core values and cannot tolerate giving power to people that lie. So, how do we uncover these issues? Almost always, companies do reference checks prior to making an offer. How much time, effort, and energy is wasted throughout the entire interviewing process if screening is last?

Food for Thought

  • If so many resumes include false information, why is the resume the first step in the recruiting process?
  • How confident are you that your recruiters verify their candidates’ experience prior to the interview?
  • How effective is your interviewing process at weeding out unqualified candidates?
  • Have you verified the effectiveness of your interviewing methodology and do you collect data to assess how often your methodology is followed by line managers?
  • Now that cultural fit is so important, how certain are you that your interviewing methodology identifies cultural matches?

In Scott Thompson’s case he blamed his executive search firm while they pointed a finger at him. At the end of the day, I believe it is critically important that a recruiter can stand by their candidates with confidence. And I believe companies should vet all their recruiting partners based on their ability to deliver great candidates who truthfully possess the desired qualifications.

While Scott Thompson and his search firm couldn’t accept responsibility, I strongly recommend you develop tangible methods to hold your recruiters accountable for the candidates they shortlist.


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