Resume Fraud: More Common Than You Think
An anonymous survey by LendEDU revealed that 34% of employees lie to some extent on their LinkedIn profiles, with 11% admitting to having a mostly false profile. In a study at the University of Massachusetts, researchers found that 81% of people lie during job interviews.
Many employers have caught on. A 2019 survey from HireRight found that 87% of employers believed that some of the applications they receive include falsehoods. Over a third of respondents believed that more than 10% of their applicants were lying. But what exactly is resume fraud? How does it impact employers and misrepresent candidates? The answers may surprise you.
What is considered resume fraud?
Resume fraud is broadly defined as any time someone purposefully misrepresents oneself on their resume. Application fraud is often used synonymously, although application fraud can technically include misleading information provided to an employer in any way at any time during the application process. Stretching or including false information about job roles, skills, and educational attainments are all forms of resume fraud.
According to surveys from HireRight and Blind, most resume embellishments concern an applicant’s educational history or technical expertise. LendEDU’s similar survey about lying on LinkedIn found that 55% of profile fibs were about a person’s listed skills. Interestingly, Blind found that companies working in the SaaS industry were most impacted by candidates misrepresenting themselves.
As a case in point, former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson lost his top seat at the internet search giant when reports surfaced in 2012 revealing that he had lied about having a computer science degree for years, including in his application for his role at Yahoo. Although Thompson claimed the degree had been misattributed to him for years, Thompson approved court filings from Yahoo with SEC that include the degree as one of the CEO’s qualifications for the job.
What are the risks of resume fraud for job applicants and employers?
Applicants who embellish or outright lie on their resume open more than just themselves up to potentially big problems. Although resume fraud itself is not criminal, employers that ultimately hire a candidate who commits resume fraud can be held liable for issues that arise from that person’s tenure at the company. This is the case with many industries that depend on professional licensing, like medical providers, legal representatives, accountants, and more.
The cost of hiring untrustworthy employees can be overwhelming for many business owners. Experts estimate that about a third of small business bankruptcies are a result of employee theft, for example. The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) estimates that 30% of retail stores’ inventory loss is a result of employee theft, while all industries combined to average a 5% loss.
Employees who get hired with a fraudulent resume also face serious consequences if found out. Like Thompson from Yahoo, many employers fire an employee once they learn they have lied. If a person’s fraudulent resume becomes part of a legal record, that person is committing a crime and can be legally prosecuted. Employees who lie or omit pertinent information can forfeit their professional licenses, lose the right to make legal claims, or face civil liability charges for misrepresenting themselves in some industries.
Lying doesn’t automatically spell the end of many people’s careers, however. Despite his resume fraud, Thompson quickly took up another position as CEO at ShopRunner after being fired from Yahoo. The team at ShopRunner says they are very familiar with Thompson’s background and are glad to have him on board.
How should employers verify employee resumes?
There are several strategies for weeding out lying job applicants such as background searches, reference checks, and scans of social media profiles. No matter whether you are using a resume provided by the candidate or a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, following up on an applicant’s most relevant claims (such as degrees, certifications, and former employers) is a good way to verify the candidate’s basic trustworthiness and protect your company from liability issues. Confirmation of other details, like an employee’s achievements within a position or their managerial responsibilities, may require reference checks or skill screenings.
With self-misrepresentation so common among job applicants today, completing a thorough background check of new hires is the best way to validate a candidate’s profile and protect a company from criminal actions and liability issues. ‘Light’ background checks often confirm a person’s clean record or job history and more in-depth background checks can be requested to check a person’s academic credentials, professional licenses, references, and more. Verifying the background of your employees keeps both your workplace and community safe.