Resume Fraud

This page is here for one reason: To present the consequences of lying on your resume, whether it is a resume you wrote or one from a professional resume writer.

Read on.

You spent hours crafting your winning resume and it looks great, but did you accurately compose your experience, education and achievements for would-be employers? Savvy recruiters, who review thousands of resumes a year, are becoming increasingly more vigilant when reviewing applicants' resumes.

Surveys conducted by human resource professionals suggest that 23% to 45% of all resumes in circulation contain substantially misleading or inaccurate statements. In fact, Wayne D. Ford, author of the employer's guidebook How to Spot a Phony Resume, conducted his own more disturbing survey: a minimum of 25 to 30 percent of resumes were considered phony by some employers, but others estimated the number at 50 to 60 percent and even much higher!

Most employers do thorough background checks on prospective employees, and many also utilize other ways to spot inaccurate resume information. Ford offers clues employers look for in resume entries that alert them to a potential problem:

  • Positions that aren't supported by qualifications elsewhere on the resume. In most cases, senior managers have education and experience forming the foundations for their positions.
  • A list of references from or positions at companies that have gone out of business. Be suspicious of impressive information that can't be verified.
  • Job titles that don't make sense in the context of the organization. Question someone who was "director of personnel" for a five-employee company or "vice president of production" for a service organization that doesn't manufacture anything.

Ford suggests that employers investigate thoroughly where inconsistencies or subtle and unverifiable embellishments exist, so it is important not to distort the reality of your experience. The most common forms of exaggeration or embellishment are on the dates of employment and on educational qualifications. The motivation for altering the former is generally to cover up periods of unemployment, incarceration or a probable bad reference. Embellishment of educational qualifications often comes when a job requires a college degree, for example, and the candidate only has three years of college.

Fabricating, when detected, will create a quick end to employment hopes. Some employers will even sue offending applicants to recover recruiting and hiring expenses! Background-checking firms like Global Verification Services and VeriCORP are being hired by many more employers to check dates, education, employers, even court records and credit histories. As a rule of thumb, you can presume that the more elevated or important a position needing to be filled is, the greater the chance that the employer will be very thorough and careful in checking the facts!

HR professionals with a modicum of experience can also be fairly intuitive when it comes to evaluating resumes. Even a seemingly innocuous statement that you "improved profits" without specifying by how much can throw up a red flag.

The lesson to be learned is "inaccurate" or misleading resumes can unnecessarily blow your opportunity to be hired. You don't need to lie to cover up an "embarrassing" period in your work history. Employers are often looking for other qualities in addition to employment history, references and education - qualities such as honesty and integrity! So, do yourself and your prospective employer a favor and craft a REAL resume that reflects who you really are and what you have truly accomplished.