Resumes – The Good, The Bad and the Lies

Resumes have become a very controversial topic in the human resource industry. Many feel that you can’t live with them – but others are adamant that you can’t live without them. As we ponder the pros and cons of these documents and what correlation they may have to a quality hire, there are various things that we must consider.

In today’s world of online applications, there are still many organizations that require the candidate to attach a resume. Since a recent ERE article explained that a recruiter averages about 6 seconds ( to scan a resume, we can certainly agree that it had better be solid and eye catching, yet brief!

Resumes allow a candidate to give more detail than many online applications yet that also means there are many resumes that extend beyond the maximum acceptable length of two pages. Nuances of a particular job, outcomes and individual successes can be delineated but must be done so in a brief fashion. Insignificant details regarding job responsibilities have no place in a professional resume.

There are many survey reports available that question the validity of the data in most resumes. A recent SHRM study reported that 53% of candidates lied on their resumes and over 70% of college students surveyed stated they would lie in order to get their dream job while 92% of these same students stated they had already lied on a resume. While a Career Builder study indicated only 5% of their study respondents admitted to lying, 57% of managers have caught candidates in a lie, which then led to 93% of those not being offered the position. In another study by Forensic Psychology, 31% of those surveyed admitted to lying on a resume. So, even though survey results might vary, the outcome of all the data points out that resumes are less than truthful documents.

One of the main concerns about taking everything the resume states as truthful is that the information is often incorrect, embellished or details were omitted. There are many areas of concern for errors but the most common ones seen in resumes, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, are fabrications regarding education, job title, compensation received, accomplishments and reasons for leaving past employment. Dates are often incorrect; numbers exaggerated and technical abilities enhanced which often gets the person through the screening process so they move to the second level – the interview. Even though some of these errors may surface in a background check, many of them do not.

Recent data from Hire Right also shares information about resumes that should make any HR professional a little cautious about believing everything you read. Their survey reports that 80% of resumes have something in them that is misleading while 20% actually document fraudulent degrees. In addition, 40% inflate their recent salary levels and 30% alter employment dates, often so that unemployment months aren’t readily visible.

As an HR professional, I hope that you will look at your next resume with caution. Remember:

  • ·      Resumes aren’t official documents
  • ·      Most information on the resume will not and can not be confirmed
  • ·      Many are written in order to use the power of “keywords”
  • ·      You can’t believe everything you read – some truths, some lies or omissions
  • ·      Candidates that have the money can pay someone to write their resume
  • ·      There are no rules on format – do you like chronological, functional or CV format?
  • ·      Use the resume information wisely during the interview
  • ·      Screening should be consistent yet few monitor screening metrics (knockout factors, efficiencies, quality of hire/engagement)
  • ·      All people that have touchpoints for evaluating the resume should be trained. Lack of training can definitely affect the quality of hires.
  • ·      Remember that behaviors always define the candidate more clearly than a written narrative. 
  • ·      Spend more than 6 seconds screening the resume!

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TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide

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