Common Resume Lies a Background Check Can Reveal

Falsifying information on resumes has become so commonplace that numerous websites have sprung up offering tips and guides on how to create fake resumes.

Discerning fact from fiction on an applicant’s resume can be a dilemma for managers and business owners. However, it’s a problem that a simple background check can easily solve.

Little white lies

Not all resume lies are penned with malicious intent, and it’s likely that numerous job candidates would say they’re simply exaggerating the truth. With so many people out of work, many candidates feel the need to embellish their resumes to stand out from the pack.

The most common false claims are:

1. College degrees and job titles

Lots of applicants are ashamed that they don’t hold a degree, or they may have completed some college and figure that qualifies them for employment just as if they have a degree.

For example: Was your applicant really an experienced, national sales manager like she claims on her resume? Or was she a floor manager with only a few direct reports?

Hiring someone who lacks necessary training or job experience can result in a poor hire and increased costs when you have to start over to find the ideal employee. Moreover, your employees’ poor performance or lack of required skills could cause your customers to lose confidence in your organization. The affect this has on your company’s reputation can be far greater than simply the time and money invested in this hire.

An advanced background check can help you confirm that the person you hire has the skills and knowledge to perform the job. As part of this process, your pre-employment screening company will verify their former employer and positions they held.

Additionally, college degrees and professional credentials should be verified with the issuing institution.

2. Altered dates of employment

Lots of applicants lie about dates of employment to cover gaps in their work history. Perhaps they were fired from a job or a series of jobs, or maybe they’ve been job hopping. Women trying to reenter the workplace after starting or raising a family may stretch time lines to cover the months or years they weren’t employed. Worse, some applicants stretch dates of employment in an attempt to hide time spent in prison.

A thorough background check will help you verify dates of employment so you can easily identify any gaps that may not have been obvious on the resume, and that may warrant further investigation.

3. Inflation of previous salary

Previous income is often used as a guide when determining compensation for a new employee. It’s natural to want to make as much money as possible, so lots of job applicants will inflate the figure on their resumes in the hopes of securing higher pay from a new job. While not all employers will give out salary information, many will confirm information that is provided to them as being correct or inaccurate. Basic employment verification should ask for salary confirmation.

At the end of the day, employees are investments. When you consider the time and expense you commit to hiring and onboarding new employees, the true worth of a background check is more than uncovering inaccuracies on resumes. The information helps you discern if a potential employee is likely to lie, steal from your company or hurt someone who works for you or pose potential harm to your clients or your reputation.

Not sure where to start when it comes to implementing reliable, accurate background checks? Download our free e-book, HR Outsourcing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), to learn how partnering with a PEO can help you better manage your hiring and HR administrative duties.

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6 responses to “Common Resume Lies a Background Check Can Reveal


My wife is a recruiter and a candidate lied about previous salary. My wife is a contracted recruiter. Is it her responsibility to verify what the candidate tells her. The candidate got an offer and the firm hr background check discovered the inaccuracy. does this damage my wife’s rep?

Insperity Blog

Hi Patrick, In my experience, customers who pay an outside contracting agency for talent acquisition do expect some minimum employment screening practices, like employment and/or education verification. However, if your wife’s contract did not explicitly state that she would complete employment verifications on all applicants she submitted, then the company should not have an expectation of that service. I cannot say, with any hope of accuracy, whether or not this discovered inaccuracy will affect her reputation in the eyes of the company she was contracted to recruit for. The advice I would give your wife as she works with companies in the future is to state the source of her compensation data; applicant provided or verified through employer.


Savvy article , I learned a lot from the information . Does anyone know where my assistant could find a sample CA Conditional Waiver and Release on Progress Payment copy to fill out ?

Insperity Blog

Hello Delmar, Thank you for your feedback! Glad you found our article helpful. Regarding your question, this site may be of assistance to you: This form may possibly be helpful as well:

Insperity Blog

Hi Nancy – That would be very frustrating to be discriminated on the basis of age or too much experience, I’m sorry you had to experience that. An employer looking for a qualified candidate would do themselves a disservice with that hiring approach. I hope you find an opportunity where you are valued for your skills and experience.

nancy Rexford

I find it even worse to include all of your education, accurate job dates and actual salary and be penalized for having too much education, experience and would cost the prospective employer more than they wanted to spend. Employers you get what you pay for or fail to pay for. An unqualified applicant will not do a great job and ignorance of rules and regulatory requires open you up to fines and law suits..
I have run into that issue it is basically a legal form of age discrimination.

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