Career Advice
Are you actively looking for a job or interested in career advancement? Here you can find expert career advice on resume writing, job letter writing, job interviews, and various other topic that will help you through this journey.
Resume FAQ

How to Identify a Fake Resume

Many job seekers often exaggerate, inflate or lie on their resumes, especially in a competitive job market.  In some cases, the information presented is totally false, and if not detected or checked out, could result in not only hiring a dishonest, unqualified candidate, but also costing the organization time, money and legal involvement.  So ATS systems, Recruiters and Hiring Managers must be diligent in identifying discrepancies and weeding out the fake resumes from those that deserve consideration.  An ATS System is only able to match skills and keywords.  They do not necessarily identify fraudulent information, and it is easy for some dishonest job seekers to fabricate parts, or all, of their resume.  However, there are certain advanced ATS systems that not only scan the resume but also check to identify whether a candidate has stolen someone else’s profile or copied certain project details. 

For starters, confirming contact information, phone numbers and email addresses will be an important first step to detect misinformation.

The adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is…”, certainly applies with falsified background information.  Resumes that appear too perfect may be just that.  Some obvious red flags may include inconsistencies such as, unexplained gaps in employment history, and unusual job titles or positions that seem ambiguous or beyond the scope of the candidate’s capabilities.  Too many keywords or bullets are additional items to consider, along with no clearly listed tasks or responsibilities tied to specific projects.  If a resume appears vague, the candidate probably has embellished the resume.

Double-checking the job title against standard practices will reveal whether there are inconsistencies to pursue. Some individuals, in order to hide certain aspects of their past, may use fictitious names a/o companies that cannot be readily verified through traditional background checks. There are Registries of Corporations online that can confirm the identity of a company.  This is where the hiring manager, or a third party background check, will need to conduct more research and ask more questions.  In order to get a high-paying job, some candidates will manufacture an entire resume.  It requires due diligence with each hire, regardless of level, to ensure that the company is employing qualified, ethical individuals.

Hiring managers possess a sixth sense when reviewing CV’s, and should always rely on their expertise, in addition to outside resources, to validate the credentials presented.  While there are guidelines as to what a prior employer may share about a candidate’s work experience, they are legally permitted to confirm dates of employment and eligibility for rehire.  That information alone will reveal whether a candidate has presented a truthful document.   All education is verifiable by the institution.  An employer is able to directly contact a college, university or academic institution and request verification of dates attended, as well as degrees earned. Does the school actually exist?  Did the candidate earn the stated degrees or certifications?  These are questions to be asked.

In some cases, the job seeker may have connections on LinkedIn who are also employed by the prospective organization.  Contacting those employees, confidentially, may supply additional insight.  Other Social Media and Online profiles will determine whether the candidate’s profile is represented consistently in other online sites.

If the candidate has listed Awards, Professional Organizations or Certifications, that information can easily be verified by first, checking online for information describing the Award or Institution, and whether it actually exists or not.  A follow up call or email to individuals involved at these organizations will reconfirm the validity of the candidate’s information.

It is always a good idea to contact all references provided by the candidate, and ask questions that will give insight or answers to some of your concerns.  References are chosen because they have a favorable opinion of the candidate; however, no employee is perfect, so asking for “areas of weakness” or “might need improvement”, are excellent follow-up questions.  The reference will always provide some details that are noteworthy - even for ethical, viable candidates.

Many companies today hire full-time reference/background checking services to not only verify dates of employment and education, but also provide credit checks and criminal information.  While those organizations are helpful and deliver useful information, there is no replacement for having direct communication with some of the companies or references listed.  If the candidate seems reluctant or unclear about why they left a previous job, there may be more questions to ask. Some candidates try to cover up a reason why they were fired from a previous job. Salary discussions may also uncover some questionable responses.  Some hiring managers may request pay stubs to confirm compensation from a prior job.  Those one-on-one conversations are always very revealing, and the tone and vibe of the individual will surface during the course of the call or meeting.

In the end, if the inconsistencies don’t add up, and you are still not comfortable with the candidate’s information and background history, then it may be best to follow your instincts and pass on extending an offer.  Or, if you are not 100% sure, then prescreen that individual by phone, and ask some substantive questions related directly to the accomplishments on the resume.  Seasoned hiring managers can usually sense if the resume doesn’t make sense.  So proceed carefully with each new candidate, and make an offer once you are convinced that this person has presented you with an accurate resume and, more importantly, will add value to your organization.