He appears to be the ideal person to fill the vacancy at your company, a high-achiever who brings years of success and top-notch training to the table.
Or does he? How accurate is the résumé presented by this seemingly credible candidate? Discerning fact from fiction as presented by an applicant’s résumé can be a dilemma for managers and business owners. However, it's a problem that a common background check could easily solve.
A CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 3,100 hiring managers indicated that 49 percent encountered a candidate lying on their résumé. Only eight percent of workers admitted to stretching the truth on their résumés, however.
The CareerBuilder.com survey found the top résumé lies to be:
- Embellished responsibilities (38 percent)
- Skill set (18 percent)
- Dates of employment (12 percent)
- Academic degree (10 percent)
- Companies worked for (7 percent)
- Job title (5 percent)
“More and more employers are doing background checks. There are a lot of people looking for jobs so the chances of them fudging are much higher,” says Larry Lambeth, president of Employment Screening Services Inc. and former chairman of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.
The most common false claims by applicants are college degrees and erroneous job titles, Lambeth says.
Applicants also frequently alter dates of employment to cover periods of unemployment, or even incarceration.
Inflation of previous salary is also common amid job seekers since previous income is often used when deciding compensation for a new employee. If candidates indicate they made more than they did and it’s never verified an employer can easily end up paying more than necessary, Lambeth says. Employers can ask for W-2s or paystubs as income verification.
Drawing the line between résumé self-marketing and fabrication can be easy.
“If they’re changing dates or numbers it’s a lie. And if they’re willing to lie on an application what else are they willing to lie about?” asks Lambeth.Not surprisingly, he advises that hiring managers outsource background checks.
The average cost of a background check is $50-$75, he adds.
Basic checks involve establishing identity. Investigators make sure the Social Security number provided actually belongs to the candidate and provides previous addresses and employers.
A second tier includes a criminal background check of state and local records. Lambeth especially recommends hiring an agency for criminal checks, noting that it’s often necessary to pull criminal records from the courthouse to truly ascertain what role, if any, the candidate played in a criminal act.
A credit check may also be required for employees in certain roles. Even a basic background check can uncover the inaccuracies and provide employers with a clear picture of who they are contemplating hiring. Employers can also find out in advance if an employee is likely to steal, hurt someone who works for you, or hurt a client, Lambeth says.