April Fools: How NOT to get fooled in the hiring process
As competition in the job market has increased, so has candidates’ temptation to stretch the truth on their resumes. Many job seekers have been scanning and scraping for work much longer than they’re used to. Out of desperation, they’ll do almost anything to get an edge on other candidates–including outright lying.

As defined by Inquest Screening, resume fraud refers to “any act that involves providing fictitious, exaggerated, or otherwise misleading information on a job application or resume in hopes of persuading a potential employer to hire an applicant for a job they may be unqualified for or less qualified than other applicants.”

The top white lies on resumes include:

  • false education credentials
  • boosting job titles
  • hiding employment gaps
  • inflating current compensation
  • overstating accomplishments

As a responsible recruiter, you have to stay one step ahead of dishonest candidates. You must know not only the most common types of job application fraud, but also how to spot the warning signs. Often, the only surefire way to catch falsifications early on is to do the extensive legwork of calling universities to verify degrees earned, contacting previous employers to confirm dates, and making sure the references listed are the correct people to talk to.  In an ideal situation, you’d do this for each and every candidate; but as we all know, hiring emergencies are often far from “ideal.”

If you don’t have the time or resources to fact-check every detail of every candidate’s background, look for these red flags on his resume. Although these warning signs should not automatically eliminate a candidate, they’ll pinpoint key areas to question him about during an interview:

Listing a university, but no degree. In an attempt to hide the fact that they didn’t graduate, some candidates will list the years they attended a university but not mention a degree. When you come across a resume like this, be sure to question the candidate about it in your initial phone screening. This will force the candidate to explain the omission and disclose whether or not they completed the program and have the right credentials for the job.

Employment dates only listed in years. Candidates can be very creative about hiding gaps in work history, since they know gaps are unattractive to a potential employer.  The most common way of doing this is only including the years, and not months, they held previous positions. This allows applicants to mask up to 12 months of unemployment. If a potential candidate looks good on paper, except for this, don’t hesitate to ask for a more detailed work history before interviewing.

Exaggerating job titles. When reviewing the resume, make sure the progression of job titles seems natural.  For example, if an applicant’s work experience progresses from an assistant-level position at their previous job, to a director or VP in their next in a very short amount of time, it’s important to take a closer look at what their roles and responsibilities actually were.  Candidates sometimes boost their titles in hopes of obtaining a higher salary.  Double check with previous employers if something looks suspicious.

Overstating accomplishments. While many applicants are honest and have won awards in previous work, there are also many organizations that will sell you an award certificate for a small sum of money. In order to stand out from other applicants, many job seekers often list these awards and achievements on their resumes.  If there are more than two or three awards from organizations you’ve never heard of, it only takes a few seconds to Google them. This is a quick, easy way to find out whether or not the candidate earned their recognitions.

While many of these falsifications are often caught in background checks, a background check usually isn’t conducted until late in the hiring process.  By this time you’ve already invested time and energy in interviewing the candidate.  It is always better to eliminate an unqualified candidate before your staff has become charmed and excited about hiring him.  If the resume fraud goes undetected, it can lead to hiring a candidate that isn’t fit for the job, which will be very costly to the company later on.

Another great way to eliminate the risk of resume fraud is to use direct placement services to staff your organization. These services recruit, screen, and recommend candidates to fill your open positions. You’ll save time and eliminate the hassle of screening the resumes and conducting preliminary interviews to check credentials.

With databases of thoroughly screened applicants on file, your staffing partner can quickly pinpoint candidates who have the skills, experience and personality traits to be successful in your work environment. Their temp-to-hire placement option will even let you try out an employee before making a final hiring decision.  As a final safeguard, most staffing firms offer replacement guarantees on the candidates they place.

Bottom line? When it comes to hiring great people, your staffing service can ensure the joke’s NOT on you this year.

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