How to Spot Untruths on a Resume (or LinkedIn Profile)

When the job market is tough or a candidate is trying to move into a new field, he or she may be tempted to stretch the truth on a resume or LinkedIn profile. Some candidates actually do.

While the “size” of the lies may vary, the most common untruths on resumes and online profiles are easy to spot. Here’s how:

Employment dates cover only years, not months.

One of the most common resume untruths is the “adjustment” of employment dates to cover gaps in employment. Sometimes, these adjustments are minor, covering only a few weeks or a month; other times, they may cover years.

The less accurate the dates on a resume are, the more likely it is that a candidate is covering something up, especially if the dates are recent. Don’t hesitate to ask the candidate’s references, or the candidate directly: does “2012-2013” mean two years (January 2012 to December 2013) or only two days (December 31, 2012 to January 1, 2013)?

Experience and accomplishments seem bigger than the job title would allow.

With all the advice about using “action verbs” and discussing “accomplishments,” it’s not unusual for candidates to take their experience and accomplishment descriptions one step further – and claim to have done something they didn’t actually do.

Use behavioral interview questions to evaluate claims to experience. “If sales in this position started dropping, what would you do?” will give you a window into the candidate’s thought process that can help you determine if “Increased sales 10 percent in our region” is an accurate statement. Likewise, “Did you do this alone or with a team?” can help you determine if a “sole” accomplishment really is, or if the candidate is taking total credit for partial participation.

The job titles don’t fit the experience or accomplishments listed, or promotions seem to have come too quickly.

Job titles get “fudged” when candidates want to make their past work sound more impressive than it was – often when they want to apply for a job that is a step above one they’ve ever held before. A reference check can easily verify a job title; use interview questions to delve into the skills and responsibilities required on the job – whatever it was. A question like “As general manager at Big Store, how did you handle scheduling over the busy holiday season?” can reveal whether the candidate actually was general manager, or simply an assistant.

At Marquee Staffing, our recruiters screen candidates and recommend those who offer the right fit for your organization – without “fudging” the truth. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in San Diego and beyond.