Can You Trust Resumes?

You have started to collect resumes from your recruitment promotion campaigns. Depending on the job and your promotional efforts, you may receive less than 10 or more than 100 resumes. How much can you trust resumes to implement a formal pre-selection process? It is a well-known fact that most applicants today have access to professional resume consultants or online templates. So how do you ensure that what you read can be trusted?

According to the independent investigative firm, Market International LTD, one-third of resumes contain material omissions or misstatements of one kind or another. Other alarming statistics warn us of the questionable reliability of resumes:

  • An Automatic Data Processing (ADP) 2009 study of some 5.5 million background investigations showed discrepancies in 46% of educational, employment and/or reference checks, up from 45% in 2008 and 41% in 2007.
  • According to CareerBuilder.com, although just 5% of workers admit- ted to fibbing on their resume, 57% of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a candidate's application. Of those who spotted the lie, 93% did not hire the candidate.
  • A 2004 Society for Human Resources Management survey of personnel directors found that nearly 90% reported that they had been subjected to resume fraud and that 61% had found inaccuracies.
  • ADP's 2001 survey of some 2.3 million background checks concluded that 44% of job applicants lied about their work histories; 41% lied about their educational backgrounds; and 23% falsified credentials or professional licenses.
  • A 2001 study of 7,000 resumes assembled by Christian & Timbers found that nearly 25% contained at least one instance of the job applicants misrepresenting their credentials.


Does it mean that resumes should be banned from your inventory of pre-screenings checks on applicants? Absolutely not! We believe that a resume can be a fantastic indicator or challenger of honesty, consistency and adequacy, IF you know how to analyze one. First of all, you need to know where most instances of untruthfulness occur and where you can trust resumes.

Potential "lie detector" points of a resume:

  1. Hiding employment gaps by altering dates
  2. Lying about academic degrees
  3. Listing a degree from a school never attended
  4. Omitting graduation dates to appear younger
  5. Exaggerating performance numbers
  6. Inflating previous or current salary
  7. Embellishing job title, to get a better salary
  8. Providing an incorrect reason for leaving a previous job
  9. Exaggerating a technical ability
  10. Claiming some foreign language fluency
  11. Providing fake addresses
  12. Omitting past employment
  13. Supplying fraudulent references

You can use this list above to analyze a resume and detect any red flag. Three red flags are probably enough to disqualify a candidate.

The second step in a resume analysis (whether paper or electronic form) is to spot specific points of qualification and interest against the job description. You may use a checklist similar to the following. We strongly suggest that you attach such checklist to each resume with answers "yes," "+/-" or "no" clearly noted. This will provide quality and legal weight to the formalization of your pre-screening process. So, can you trust resumes?

Checklist for a resume screening:

  • A personalized cover letter is attached to resume.
  • Resume is job-specific rather than generic (same resume sent to multiple employers).
  • The main education is relevant and sufficient for the job.
  • There is additional relevant educational experience.
  • The education is relatively current.
  • Resume shows acceptable professional experience (if applicable) enabling the applicant to be quickly operational on the job.
  • Resume covers required job requirements stated in the ad.
  • Resume shows main relevant points of qualification.
  • The timeline throughout the resume is consistent and does not contain unexplained "gaps" in the job history and/or education.
  • Resume shows congruence of information- no omitted dates, descriptions, references, etc.
  • Applicant's job history shows consistent, stable career path.
  • Resume shows performance/achievement data.
  • Professional experience is given in terms of results, rather than just in terms of action/tasks.
  • Applicant's background seems compatible with company culture and management style.
  • Resume shows applicant's involvement in volunteer activities.
  • Resume contains soft skills that are important for the job.
  • Applicant presents verifiable references or testimonials.
  • Applicant mentions salary range compatible with job pay.
  • The general appearance of resume is professional.
  • Overall, resume appears credible.

Note: beware of "functional" resumes. They ignore chronological order and focus on skills and capabilities - what the applicant can do rather than what he/she has done. The functional format is usually used by those who have unexplained gaps in employment have changed careers over the years or have unclear career paths.


You should warn applicants that lying on a resume or application form will lead to automatic termination of application or employment. Many companies have done so. Here are a few examples, as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

  • Gregory Probert, President of Herbalife Ltd., lost his job in 2008 after the Wall Street Journal disclosed that his corporate biography listed a fake master's degree.
  • Tetra Tech Inc. demoted its president, Sam Box, after he acknowledged he hadn't earned the bachelor's degree he had been claiming.
  • Cabot Microelectronics Corp. forced its Chief Information Officer, James Dehoniesto, to leave the company after it discovered that he had claimed a fake bachelor's degree.


Make sure you use a pre-employment test that can tell you if an applicant is trustworthy and if their background is accurate. The Recru-Tec Pre-Employment Test can do just that. Request a free demo today!

Best success!

Patrick Valtin,
Best-Selling Author of No-Fail Hiring 2.0.

Original article source: http://nofailhiring.com/can-you-trust-resumes/