How to Spot a Lie on a Resume

We tend to think of professional people as upstanding and trustworthy, but surveys show a large percentage of people admit to lying on their resumes.

For employers looking to hire people they can trust, this presents a major challenge: Having to spot lies on a resume.

It can be difficult to identify false information; however, if you know what to look for, you can pick out disparities or dubious claims. Below are a few indicators the information in front of you may not be 100% truthful.

Vague, Irregular or Missing Dates

One of the most common lies on a resume is when an applicant ‘fudges’ or outright makes up start and end dates for one or more previous jobs. When the dates listed do not include the month and year, the applicant might be attempting to hide gaps in employment or make the length of employment seem longer than it was in reality.

While fudging dates isn’t an outright lie, it’s a red flag you should look into in a phone interview or background check. It may be an oversight, or they may be attempting to mislead. Either way, it’s a good idea to get to the bottom of the situation

A Career Progression That Doesn’t Make Sense

Some people looking to make their resume more impressive will list a job title they feel they deserved, rather than the one they had. One sign of this lie is a big, unexplained career jump. For instance, if a candidate went from administrative assistant to department manager, it should draw some extra scrutiny.

While it is quite possible to make that type of jump, it’s something that ought to be checked out.

Job Duties That Don’t Match the Title

Job experience and duties tend to be major areas for embellishment on a resume. If you notice hazy descriptions of abilities or responsibilities that aren’t in line with the job title, you might be looking at improper embellishment.

If the applicant progresses to the interview stage, ask specifically about the title, its responsibilities and their achievements in the position. Also, talk to references to authenticate suspect details. Often, people are only exposed to certain high-profile job duties, and then list them on their resume as if those were their daily duties.

Taking Credit for Everything

If an applicant’s resume claims a lot of individual responsibility for achievements that were likely team efforts, it should pique your interest. This type of resume embellishment can cover anything from small overstatements to outright lies. For instance, it’s one thing to mention the adoption of a suggested process improvement, and a completely different thing to say you routinely reviewed and improved various processes.

Because they can be subtle and randomly placed, a good approach is to review suspected embellishments on a case-by-case basis.

Let NSC Simplify the Resume-Screening Process for Your Company

At NSC, we simplify the hiring process for our clients so they can focus on their business. Please contact us our expert recruiting team today!


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