Resume: Is It Too Good To Be True?

Think of a job candidate's resume like a car advertisement. The applicant is trying to sell you something, so you should adopt a "buyer beware" attitude. Experts say the slow economy will only increase the amount of fudging and outright lying on resumes. Here are some ways to verify the claims a candidate has made on his or her resume:

Check for inconsistencies

Resume-writing software can make anyone look good. Look for slip-ups in dates (such as overlapping start and stop dates) and contradictions between job titles and duties.

Require all interviewees to complete an application

Then look for inconsistencies between the resume and the handwritten application.

Test skills

If an applicant claims proficiency in a computer program, check those skills. Be sure to test all interviewees uniformly to avoid charges of bias.

Check references, then ask for more

Require applicants to provide phone numbers for all past employers, and make sure you call. Ask for names of former supervisors; call the college admissions office to verify degrees.

Probe deeply into "self-owned business" claims

When applicants work for themselves, it's easy to cook up experience. Ask for details about their claims and names and phone numbers that can back them up.

Don't confuse referrals with references

Perform the same thorough check on candidates referred by co-workers or friends that you would on candidates from other sources.

Ask about time gaps

Ask specifically about intervals when the applicant was apparently unemployed.


Probe claims of supervisory duties

If a resume says the person managed or supervised others, ask "when you say "supervise,' what did your duties involve? Did you assign work, evaluate the employees, and conduct performance reviews?" A true manager would have done that, and more.

Question claims of saving the company money or resources

Often, the claims are true, but they may be exaggerations. Comments like "made staffing change to cut clerical time" may mean that he trimmed a half-hour off the secretary's lunch hour. Follow up on such resume claims with questions such as, "How, exactly, were those savings realized?" Also, follow up on any claim that follows the words "reorganized" of "restructured." Why? .... "Reorganizing" the department may mean the person merely reorganized the files or the furniture.

Although some of these issues may seem cynical, it is in the best interest of your business to ensure that the applicant is, in fact, as good as indicated by the resume.

SESCO Management Consultants is available to assist with your human resource issues. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com .