Job seekers lying on resumes on the rise, survey finds

Study provides tips on determining when an applicant is dishonest

Posted August 18, 2017

What's the truth about lying on resumes? Almost half of workers (46 percent) polled in a recent survey said they know someone who included false information on a resume, a 25-point jump from a 2011 survey.

According to the survey conducted by OfficeTeam, job experience (76 percent) and duties (55 percent) were cited as the areas that are most frequently embellished.

Fifty-three percent of senior managers suspect candidates often stretch the truth on resumes, and 38 percent said their company has removed an applicant from consideration for a position after discovering he or she lied.

Workers were asked, "Do you know anyone who misrepresented or exaggerated information on his or her resume?" Their responses:

  • Yes — 46 percent
  • No — 54 percent

Workers who know someone who misrepresented or exaggerated information on his or her resume were also asked, "What type of information did they misrepresent or exaggerate on their resume?" Their responses:

  • Job experience — 76 percent
  • Job duties — 55 percent
  • Education — 33 percent
  • Employment dates — 26 percent

Spotting a liar

The survey identified signs a job seeker may be lying on a resume — and offers tips for confirming details:

  1. Skills have vague descriptions. Using ambiguous phrases like "familiar with" or "involved in" could mean the candidate is trying to cover up a lack of direct experience. To assess a worker's abilities, conduct skills testing or hire the person on a temporary basis before making a full-time offer.
  2. There are questionable or missing dates. Having large gaps between positions or listing stints by year without months can be red flags. Inquire about the applicant's employment history during initial discussions and ask references to validate timelines.
  3. You get negative cues during the interview. A lack of eye contact or constant fidgeting may suggest dishonesty, but don't eliminate a promising candidate by making a judgment based solely on body language. Consider the individual's responses to your questions and feedback from other staff members who met him or her.
  4. References offer conflicting details. Ask initial contacts about additional people you can speak to about the prospective hire. Also, check if there are connections in your network who can provide insight about the candidate.
  5. Online information doesn't match. Don't always take what you find on the internet at face value. There may be multiple professionals with the same name or legal issues with how the information can be used. Verify facts during the interview and reference check processes.

About the research

The surveys of workers and senior managers were developed by OfficeTeam. They were conducted by independent research firms and include responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments, and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

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