Carefully reviewing resumes is critical in screening out applicants, not just screening them in. Proactive recruiting
measures and interview tactics can help see through the illusions that scam applicants create in misrepresenting
themselves. Background investigations can help further screen out untruthful candidates by verifying the applicant
supplied information as well as finding out what candidates did not put on their resume.
The most often misrepresented information relates to educational credentials. In addition to blatantly indicating degrees
reader to assume receipt of a degree. For example, “State University 2006 Accounting” is vague and should be regarded
as suspect. Just because an applicant has the degree indicated doesn’t mean that the GPA or honors graduation level
(e.g. Suma Cum Laude) represented are truthful. It is bewildering that applicants feel these white lies are necessary to
set them apart from other applicants. It is that feeling that requires recruiters to verify as much information as possible
and to definitely set scam applicants apart by rejecting them and their questionable integrity.
Don’t assume anything when reviewing an unclear resume or application. When an applicant represents past
employment as “ACME Company 2004-2005”, recruiters may assume two years of employment. The skeptical recruiter will
assume an attempt to cover employment gaps or conceal a past employer. When an applicant does indicate a gap in
employment, the recruiter should not hesitate to ask the applicant about the gap.
Other unethical tactics used by scam applicants include inflated job titles and salaries. If a recruiter is uncertain how
past positions compare to the one applied for they can solicit clarification from the former employer’s HR department.
Savvy recruiters don’t let a “no further comment policy” stop them; they look for job descriptions on the former
employers Website and local job boards.
It is not uncommon today for someone to be self-employed or have had a period of self-employment. Being self-
employed doesn’t mean being unverifiable. A tactful interviewer will engage an applicant in conversation about the self-
employment leading to asking for a few clients to contact as references. These clients will confirm the applicant’s
employment and provide valuable insight into the applicant’s skills.
Military service is another area frequently misrepresented. Deceitful applicants know that a proper military service
verification takes approximately 6-8 weeks and most employers forgo this much more frequently than they forgo prior
employment verifications. Astute HR professionals know the power of contingent job offers. There is no need to hold up
starting the applicant but also no need to forgo validations that properly protect the employer, its employees and clients.
Human nature does not provide consistent actions among liars which would enable recruiters and hiring managers to
determine who is being truthful. Even if it did, substantial proof, not just gut instinct, of less than truthful details is
necessary in our litigious society. Fortunately, thorough background investigations can add confidence to the hiring
process by weaving through the smoke and mirrors, providing both confirmation of accurate applicant supplied data and
revelation of scam applicant supplied falsifications.
Don’t let that perfect candidate be just an illusion. Do your due diligence through thorough background investigations.
And, if you discover that, instead of a perfect candidate, you have a scam applicant, wave your wand and make the
DATE: September 2006 - Resume Magic