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May 25, 2016

Applicant screening: Watch out for these 7 resume misrepresentations

Hiring the best talent is tough for any employer, and when it comes to the hiring process, what you don’t know can come back to bite you. That’s why your screening practices are so crucial. It’s your first line of defense against all kinds of possible negative consequences – internal theft, personal or property damage, accidents and injuries, workers’ compensation claims, costly lawsuits, and even damage to your reputation and brand image.

You need to answer one vital question: Is the job candidate sitting across from you in the interview the same person represented in his or her resume?

False information on a resume is nothing new, from little white lies to wholesale fabrications. That can be especially true for job candidates who are desperate for work – or desperate to hide something in their past. There are even websites offering tips on how to create a fake resume. Separating fact from fiction can be a real puzzle for employers.

Here are seven of the most common resume misrepresentations to watch for:

1.     Employment dates. Some applicants misrepresent their dates of employment to cover up gaps in work history, being fired from a job, or job hopping. Women reentering the workforce after having a child may stretch dates to cover the time they weren’t employed. Some applicants alter dates of employment to hide time spent in prison.

2.     Job titles and salaries. Employers often use previous job titles and income levels as guidelines to set a new employee’s compensation. Since everybody wants to make as much money as possible, many applicants exaggerate past job titles, promotions, and salaries to improve their bargaining position.

3.     Education. Many applicants feel less competitive if they don’t have a college degree or certain skills, so academic degrees, technical skills, and certifications are often overstated or even made up.

4.     Experience. Was your applicant really a top performing national sales manager as she claims on her resume? Or was she merely a floor sales manager? Hiring someone who lacks the necessary training or experience can lead to problems down the road such as poor performance, poor customer relations, greater risk of injury, and the cost to find another, better employee.

5.     Professional licenses. Some applicants add phony titles to their names to look more important. This is especially dangerous, since employers are legally liable and could face serious financial repercussions for passing off employees as credentialed when they aren’t.

6.     Criminal records. It’s not uncommon for an applicant with a criminal history to lie about it on a resume, no matter how serious or trivial his past crimes. Then there are those who falsify information with the intent to repeat their criminal activity such as embezzling.

7.     Self-owned businesses. Just because an applicant spent a few days helping his brother-in-law fix a roof doesn’t mean the applicant owned and ran his own roofing business for many years. Some applicants falsify past employers or attempt to cover up employment gaps by making up fictitious companies or falsifying information about a company that’s gone out of business.

Clearing the air

The antidote for all of these misrepresentations is thorough employment screening and background checks. Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure your screening process includes:

  • Reference checks
  • Criminal background checks
  • Verification of educational claims with universities and other training facilities
  • Verification of licenses with accrediting agencies
  • Verification of businesses through business license or DBA filings

Want more tips on screening your job applicants and hiring the best talent? Talk to the business insurance experts at Heffernan Insurance Brokers.

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