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How To Tell If A Candidate Is Being Dishonest On Their Resume

A candidate appears nervous about lying on her resume in an interview

Candidates lying on resumes can cost employers time and money—yet by some estimates, up to 85% of job hunters have lied on a resume. Read this article to find out how often job candidates lie, what they’re most likely to lie about, and how you can spot falsehoods on a resume. We’ll also look at what employment verifications are, and why they’re often used during the background check process.

Resumes and job applications can only reveal so much about any given candidate. As a result, it can be challenging for hiring managers and recruiters to make well-informed decisions based on those details alone, like who you should move forward with and who should be disqualified. Something that makes this even more challenging? Candidates lying on their resumes.

No matter how big or small the lie, it can be costly for employers for many reasons, including:

  • The time it takes to interview and vet candidates during the hiring process
  • Additional time and training required because the employee lacks the necessary skills and experience to perform their job
  • Inefficiencies in their job role and responsibilities
  • Time and money spent on the termination process
  • Time and money spent on the re-hiring process

According to CareerBuilder, 75% of hiring managers have caught lying on a resume. However, it’s still crucial for them to be on their toes and know exactly what they should be looking for. That’s why GoodHire is sharing how often candidates lie, what they lie about, and how employment history checks can help prevent hiring dishonest candidates.

Lying On Resumes: How Many People Actually Do It?

Just how many people lie on their resumes? It might be more than you think. Companies have found that anywhere from one-third to 85% of candidates lie on their resumes or during the hiring process. A ResumeLab survey asked over 1,000 Americans whether they know someone who has lied on their resume, and an astounding 93% said yes.

The most common lies on resumes? Job experience, job duties, and work skills. The same survey revealed that candidates lie or “stretch the truth” for several other reasons, like covering a gap in employment, not being qualified enough, and wanting a higher salary.

Are candidates lying about their degree on a resume? Are they lying about employment dates on a resume? Perhaps they’re lying about GPA on a resume? When it comes to more specific details that are most often lied about, candidates revealed they were dishonest about:

  • Skills they have (like using Excel or speaking a foreign language)
  • How long they worked in a previous job (to cover an unemployment gap or to leave out another employer altogether)
  • Job titles
  • Higher GPA
  • Listing a degree they didn’t earn or lying about the university they attended

When lies are spotted by recruiters, it often leads to candidates not receiving an interview request or being disqualified from the running. In some cases, lies are revealed after someone is hired. As a result, employees face more severe consequences like being reprimanded or dismissed for lying on a resume.

How To Tell If A Candidate Is Dishonest On Their Resume

Their Employment History Can’t Be Verified

One of the quickest and most efficient ways to determine if a candidate is lying about their job history is through a GoodHire employment verification. With employment verification checks, you can confirm details about a person’s current and previous job titles, start dates, and end dates. This is one of the easiest ways to spot inconsistencies on someone’s resume and can help spot any potential red flags.

For example, if employment dates don’t match and are way off, they may be concealing a gap in employment. If their job titles don’t match, they may be inflating their roles and responsibilities. As a result, they may not be qualified for the job they’re applying for or have the relevant work experience needed. When reviewing Employer Verification results, minor inconsistencies in dates or titles may occur due to issues with employer record keeping or third-party systems, so it’s important to keep this in mind and address the issue with the candidate.

Their Resume Doesn’t Match Their Job Application

Job candidates often use the same resume when applying for jobs—one that’s separate from the actual job application. That’s because many job applications will require candidates to reiterate their work experience and job history despite listing it on their resume. If a candidate doesn’t pay close attention, they may unintentionally reveal inconsistencies in their previous job experience.

To mitigate this, hiring managers should always compare a candidate’s job application to their resume and cover letter to ensure all job dates, titles, and experiences align. Again, details like start and end dates, job titles, and responsibilities should match their resume and application. If anything is drastically different or missing from any of these various formats, it could be considered a red flag.

Their Job Details & Skills Are Vague

No matter the length of the resume, type of job experience, or number of positions a candidate has held, they should be able to provide clear and detailed summaries of their roles, responsibilities, and duties. In other words: Do they talk about their experience and skills or talk around them?

For example, if a candidate uses vague or unclear phrases and words, it could be a sign they had little-to-no involvement in their listed role or roles. On the other hand, if they overuse ‘buzzwords’ or cliche phrases, it may help embellish their resume a little bit without further explaining their experience or skills.

They Don’t Pass Additional Background Checks

In addition to Employment Verification, other types of background checks can be beneficial in revealing dishonest candidates (and verifying honest ones!). Using a professional background screener can help cut down on the time you have to spend verifying a candidate’s information and can help protect your company from liability claims.

In addition to Employment Verifications, GoodHire offers several different types of background checks to help employers verify candidate information, including: 

  • Education Verification: As mentioned earlier, studies show that candidates often lie about their education and/or degrees they’ve earned.
  • Reference Checks: Conduct in-depth interviews with candidates’ listed references to get additional insight into their work experience and work ethic.
  • Criminal Background Check: Perform county, state, national, and federal criminal checks on employees to help ensure a safe and secure work environment.

Build A Team You Can Trust With Employment Verifications From GoodHire

To hire qualified, trustworthy employees and best protect your company, use Employment Verifications from GoodHire. Verifications not only help to streamline the entire hiring process, but they also help to confirm that your candidate has the work experience they claim to have on their resume. With Employment Verifications, GoodHire helps you:

  • Confirm previous employers listed on each candidate’s resume
  • Verify candidates’ job titles and employment dates
  • Remain compliant with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (and any additional federal and state fair-hiring laws applicable to your business)

Ready to make the best-informed decisions about job candidates? Verify their job history with GoodHire’s Employment Verifications.

Conduct Employment Verifications With GoodHire

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Illustration showing GoodHires employment history verification option

The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

About the Author

Ashley Blonquist is a former news journalist. She writes about GoodHire’s employment screening services and how employers use them to make informed hiring decisions.