We all know the story of the little boy who’s nose would grow every time he told a lie. But Pinocchio is harmless right? But if he wasn’t a little boy – what if he was a candidate applying for a role you had advertised and you ended up employing him or her only to find out he was a liar when it was too late?
One of the biggest challenges a new business start-up can face has nothing to do with the market, access to capital or even the viability of having a product or service that people want – it’s hiring the wrong staff. A recent poll conducted by Harris Poll in partnership with CareerBuilder has found that about 60% of hiring managers say they have caught people out lying on their resumes and it’s been getting worse thanks to the recession in the United States with these same hiring managers saying they have seen a massive increase in the number of people embellishing in order to stand out above the competition.
“Trust is very important in professional relationships, and by lying on your resume, you breach that trust from the very outset,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “If you want to enhance your resume, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your resume doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”
When you consider that hiring managers are also small business owners then hiring a liar has the potential to have costly impacts – especially if they are hired into key sales or management roles. In fact, the impact to your brand can be as destructive as the bottom line impacts:
“When we hired someone into a key management role we thought we had checked what we could. It turned out we should have checked his qualifications with his institution because that would have immediately raised some red flags. As a small business we just didn’t have the time to do the things a big company would have. In the end the big lie was he told us he had cancer, we bought into it and became so bogged down in what we believed was a big sad event. It turns out that it was just another lie in an attempt to cover up the earlier ones. It took hundreds of hours and weeks away from focussing on the business before we realised what was really going on and I lament if we had have only checked the qualifications at the very beginning we would never have hired him based on that first lie.” Said Austin Kim, COO of the Sustain Group.
Wiki suggests that in order to weed out liars you should try and spot patterns:
“Many people lie about a few subjects that make them extremely uncomfortable - usually their past bad behavior or something that makes them embarrassed. If the person in question tends to consistently lie when asked about a certain topic, you may just want to back off and stop pressing that particular issue. However, if the person's lies seem to have no rhyme or reason, with no pattern you can make out, you've got a bigger problem on your hands.
If someone lies every time you ask him about why his father is always absent, or why he never finished high school, or why he refuses to speak to a certain person, the answers to those questions might well be classified as none of your business, anyway. Unless you're in a committed relationship with someone, you aren't entitled to knowing every detail about someone's life.
If, on the other, hand the person seems to tell lies just for the heck of it, even when asked questions about seemingly unimportant topics, he or she might be a compulsive liar. Since his or her lying doesn't follow a pattern, it will be a lot harder to sympathize with the person's intentions for hiding the truth.”
Take a look at what else the survey came up with:
Most Common Resume Lies
There are certain fabrications job seekers may try to slip past employers more frequently than others. According to employers, the most common lies they catch on resumes relate to:
Embellished skill set – 57 percent
Embellished responsibilities – 55 percent
Dates of employment – 42 percent
Job title – 34 percent
Academic degree – 33 percent
Companies worked for – 26 percent
Accolades/awards – 18 percent
Most Memorable Resume Lies
When asked about the most unusual lie they’ve ever caught on a resume, employers recalled:
Applicant included job experience that was actually his father’s. Both father and son had the same name (one was Sr., one was Jr.).
Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.
Applicant claimed to have been a high school basketball free throw champion. He admitted it was a lie in the interview.
Applicant claimed to have been an Olympic medalist.
Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.
Applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.
Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, etc.
Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day, and not at all for the third.
Applicant applied to a position with a company who had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his resume that he had quit.
Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.
Industries Most Likely to Report Catching Resume Lies
While employers have caught lies on resumes submitted for jobs of all types, levels and industries, some report a higher rate of fibbing than others. The survey found that employers in the following industries catch resume lies more frequently than average:
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