June 21, 2010
Buzz on lie detectors is all a lie, but looking for lies on your resume is still true
In an article posted on the Washington Post, Jeff Stein points out that polygraph tests used by employers to screen candidates aren't reliable, however the appearance of the test itself can motivate subjects to confess.
While I have yet to run into an employer in Puget Sound that uses polygraphs in employment screening (have you?), I have seen many HR professionals use various techniques discussed below to find lies on resumes:
Employers check all current and previous resume submissions. Resumes submitted to companies are usually kept for 7 - 10 years. They are stored in the company's Applicant Tracking System (ATS). When you send a new resume one year later, it's easy to compare the two documents with the tools available to HR. Discrepancies that raise red flags are: dates of employment, education, job titles, and significant changes in responsibility.
Applicant Tracking Systems also compare your LinkedIn profile with your resume. Candidates seem to be more truthful on public sites such as LinkedIn than they are on their resumes. People tend to maintain their honesty with their former employer and colleagues by posting accurate dates of employment, title and education history on their LinkedIn profile. However when they're sending their resume to a handful of employers, they're more inclined to exaggerate qualifications or misrepresent employment dates.
HR managers use LinkedIn's Reference Search. This powerful tool allows employers to find out whether you truly went to University of Washington Foster School of Business or attended City University instead. They can also find out whether you were a business manager at Group Health or a project coordinator.
Not only will lying on your resume disqualify you from getting an interview, it can actually cause you to get blacklisted with the prospective employer. Once blacklisted, it becomes almost impossible to get an interview with them at a future date.
One of the main concerns I hear from job seekers today is their employment gap since their last layoff. They're worried that having a six month or one-year gap on their resume is getting them disqualified from being considered. I ease this fear by letting them know that "What makes you a great Project Manager doesn't necessarily make you a great job seeker." Employers understand this so staying truthful on your application is in your best interest.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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