Entrepreneurs are always looking for talented individuals to help them grow their businesses. The resume is the tool used to communicate the applicant’s qualifications. Sadly, statistics reveal that up to 50 percent of resumes contain one or more major misrepresentations. When reviewing resumes, don’t proceed with blinders on. You must protect you company from unscrupulous people who falsify their accomplishments.
When presenting credentials, we all want to show ourselves in the most favorable light. That’s natural and expected, and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s just good marketing. However, when good marketing crosses the line into intentionally leading others to believe things that aren’t true, that’s a problem.
Applicants may attempt to deceive prospective employers in many ways. Some candidates tell outright lies, but using clever wording to intentionally mislead people is no better. One executive proudly proclaimed that he had graduated from Harvard Business School. The statement was clearly intended to cause people to believe that he held a Harvard MBA. At Harvard, the MBA program has very high admissions standards and requires a lot of hard work over a two-year period to successfully complete.
In fact, the man had “graduated” from an executive education seminar conducted at HBS. The program took one week to complete and the primary requirement for admission was having the wherewithal to pay the cost of the program. Clearly, his accomplishment was a far cry from earning an MBA. The executive might argue that he hadn’t lied because he had actually “graduated” from HBS. Perhaps, but the intent to deceive was clear. The executive was subsequently terminated for unspecified reasons.
So how do you protect your company?
Ask questions. Don’t make assumptions.
Push candidates for details about educational programs and other claims on a resume. Ask the simple question, “Did you graduate.” You will be surprised at how many people who list a bachelor of science degree but didn’t actually graduate from the institution listed on their resume.
Related: A Lie-Detector Test for Resumes
Another equally misleading practice is claiming to have a degree from one of the all-too-prevalent diploma mills. Such enterprises have names that sound like legitimate academic institutions. The programs most often require little or no academic work and grant credit for “life experience.” These “schools” are not accredited and many will perpetuate the scam by providing a phone number that prospective employers can call to verify the degree. People who participate in such schemes are likely to come up with a justification for their actions, but deep down, unless they are completely devoid of character, they know that what they are doing is wrong.
Verify not only that the candidate holds the degree they claim, but go a step further. If you aren’t completely familiar with the school, check to verify its accreditation through the appropriate regional commission. This simple online process will give you peace of mind, knowing that the institution of higher learning holds to certain standards of learning.
Verify all references.
More recently, services have sprung up that will provide an applicant with a phone number that prospective employers can call to get a reference. The service will answer the phone any way the applicant requests and provide prior employment verification. The service might answer the phone using the name of a real company or one that is completely made up. Either way, it’s a scam.
When verifying past employment, don’t use the phone number provided by the employee. Rather, do an online search of the company and find the number yourself. A couple of minutes of research can tell you a lot about an employee’s former employer.
These words coined by Ronald Reagan ring true, “Trust, but verify.” Learn how to validate claims of educational and professional accomplishment. The Internet-age makes this easy and inexpensive.
Ask for references from people who are familiar with the applicant’s work who were not on his/her reference list. Most people are clever enough to list references who will say nice things about them.
Don’t let fraudsters infiltrate your organization through benign neglect on your part. Make sure that the claims of prospective employees reflect the truth, the whole truth, and -- you get the idea.