Fraudulent Candidates: Faking It Til’ They Make It

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Fraudulent Candidates: Faking It Til’ They Make It

Recruiters spend an average of .6 seconds reviewing a resume before moving on to the next, according to Glassdoor research. Considering this fact, it’s safe to say that it’s likely pretty easy to miss some minor details of a candidate’s resume like, for example, the fact they graduated from The University of the Palms in St. Augustine Florida and received their Ph.D in Physics with an emphasis in Biodiversity Law. We see that they have an education and a degree and assume that all’s well. If I’m looking for an engineer to work in a research lab with experimental medicine, this candidate might look like a solid 4-star on my radar. I’m definitely reaching out to him or her to start a preliminary conversation.

Too bad The University of the Palms and Ph.D in Physics with an emphasis in Biodiversity Law is a made up educational institution and degree. Gasp. You mean…Yep, it’s true. There is no such school. I just made it up. So how can you determine if your candidates are doing the same?

Diploma mills are rampant and distinguishing the legitimacy of educational or career achievements these days can be tough. With the popularity of online degrees and educational institutions who operate solely to profit off students, it’s difficult to tell upon first blush whether a candidate is truly degreed or not, and has the experience and training they claim to have. Candidates who knowingly falsify their educational credentials or even resume history could face criminal charges in several states. Moreover, disciplinary action, such as being fired, is probably the least severe penalty that a candidate could face for such an act.

Investigative professionals, Marquet International LTD, classify the 10 most common resume lies as:

1. Stretching Dates of Employment:

We’ve never seen this done, though, right? That moment when you inquire about a candidate’s stint at their last employer over the phone and they offer up their dates of employment that don’t match with what the resume says…awkward.

2. Inflating Past Accomplishments and Skills

We’re all about creative writing and getting your resume seen, sure, but when your accomplishments and descriptions are downright untrue, it’s

3. Enhancing Job Titles and Responsibilities

Luckily, working for a small company allows me to showboat a little bit when it comes to my position. Why? Because no one else does exactly what I do, so therefore I’m automatically the VP of whatever it is. The point here is that titles can be misleading and further investigation into what the person actually did is the key to understanding their contributions and experiences.

4. Exaggerating Education and Fabricating Degrees

This is by far the most major offender that, as mentioned above, can warrant litigation, criminal investigation, and at the very least, termination.

5. Self-Employment or Unexplained Gaps in Employment

These are often my favorite entries on a resume. Some candidates get very creative in their explanation of gaps in employment. Hey, I’m not really judging you for taking 2 years off to grow a massive hydroponics garden if that’s what you really did, just don’t tell me you took off two years to care for your terminally ill pet.

6. Omitting Past Employment

This one can be tricky. Some candidates choose to omit short stints of employment that aren’t relevant to the position they’re aiming for, and generally that’s okay to do, as long as the intention is good.

7. Faking Credentials

See #4.

8. Fabricating Reasons for Leaving a Job

By far, the #1 offender. It’s all about his side, her side, and the truth of what actually happened. Usually these fibs can be teased out when you ask about checking references. If someone is unwilling to provide you with a direct past supervisor’s information to check references, there’s likely a good reason, and half the time it’s because of the reason for leaving a job.

9. Providing Fraudulent References

See above.

10. Misrepresenting Military Records

Unless employer bother to actually verify records like military service, candidates can easily claim to have served in the forces fraudulently and most times without recourse. Most employers won’t bother to check on this unless it’s specifically relevant to the position, and will likely take a candidate’s word for it.

How to Combat the Phonies

While it’s sometimes difficult to identify fraud on a candidate’s resume, there are several steps you can take to ensure a thorough hiring and interview process, which often flushes out any inconsistencies.

1. In-Depth Interviewing

Asking clarifying and follow-up questions is one of the best ways to identify inconsistencies in a candidate’s resume or employment history. If something doesn’t line or seem to make sense, ask until it does. It’s the candidate’s responsibility to help you understand with the utmost clarity.

2. Reference Checks

The threat of the reference check, first coined by Bradford Smart in Topgrading, is one of the best ways to verify past performance and validate a candidate’s experience.

3. Assessment Testing

Another prime way to dig deeper into a candidates set of skills and competencies is through the use of assessment tests. While candidates may choose to try to beat the test or lie to look good for the hiring managers, these types of assessments often have checks that pick up on and flag these attempts by way of measuring for honesty, consistency, and accuracy of results.

4. Check and Verify Credentials

Last but not least, check the credentials of your prospective candidates. There are several ways to do this- you may choose to run a background or credit check on potential new hires. You might even want to verify education or request candidate transcripts through the National Student Clearinghouse, which verifies student records. You can also check the legitimacy of educational institutions through the U.S. Department of Education here. To verify service in the armed forces, you can check Veterans’ Service Record archives here.

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