By Doreen Koronios
It’s a well known fact that some people lie on their resumes. There are plenty of statistics around that show the percentages. Some people embellish a little, some embellish a lot, and some outright lie. Most of the time, that lie is about their education. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, one in four candidates misrepresents his or her educational attainment. If someone lies on their resume, how can you trust them as an employee?
I can remember several years ago a company I was working for at the time was in the process of hiring a new sales director. The frontrunner appeared to be a polished professional with a great resume, which indicated that he had a Bachelors degree from a known university. However, during our background screening process, we could not verify his education. We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and asked him if there was an issue we needed to know about. He gave us some kind of random excuse – something about a mix up of his records – and insisted that he did have the degree and would bring it to us for our files. Now, he knew full well that we were conducting a thorough background check on him and would eventually find out if he was lying, but he seemed sincere and all his other credentials seemed right for the job. So we hired him with the contingency that he would bring us a copy of his degree. Over the next several months he was asked to bring in his degree and he always had an excuse. His ultimate excuse was that it was in storage in his mother’s attic (I’m not making this up) in a town that was about an hour away from his home. Of course, by now, we all suspected that maybe he really didn’t have a degree at all. We finally pinned him down to a date to produce the degree or he would be let go. He insisted in an agitated manner that on Monday he would have the degree for us as he stormed out of the office on a Friday afternoon. Well, on Monday, he came in and announced that he drove to his mother’s house over the weekend and found his degree (which he never produced for us to see) and then promptly quit!
The moral of this story is that you can never tell who will lie on his or her resume. Here was a guy who was well dressed, well spoken and well experienced in the field we were hiring for. He was very straightforward when describing his education and degree and, all the while, he was lying. But he had such a charismatic personality (always a plus for a sales director) that we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then, as we tried to verify his education, he put us on the defensive that it must be something we did wrong because he certainly had that degree (in his mom’s attic). And when he was finally “cornered” he quit in a huff because he could not work for a company that did not believe him! All the while, never producing the degree.
In March 2010, NBC Miami reported that the chief information technology security director of Miami’s largest healthcare provider, Jackson Health Systems, lied on his resume about his college degree. He was hired for a $133,000 a year job that he wasn’t qualified to have. He also receives an annual $5,000 bonus for being part of the management team. In the meantime, Jackson Health Systems is on the verge of going under.
Stories like these are plentiful. That is why your HR department must thoroughly vet every applicant. In the current economic environment with so many people out of work, it is more important than ever to conduct credential verifications. In desperate times some people will do desperate things – like lying on their resumes.
Fake diplomas are also used to misrepresent an applicant’s educational attainment. A quick Google search produces several online diploma mills that are happy to provide the “highest quality custom replicated diplomas” from any learning institution. The selling companies, which usually hide behind anonymous offshore Web addresses, are part of a growing number of Internet sites where people can buy phony credentials from real schools, including Harvard University. You can even hire a service that claims it will verify a fake degree.
The ramifications of hiring someone who has lied on his or her resume are many. Your company has allocated time and money to hire this applicant and potentially rejected a candidate that was truly qualified for the position. Bad hires also increase employee turnover, which is costly to a company. But most importantly, without verifying the applicant’s credentials, you risk hiring someone who is not truly qualified for the job, which can ultimately jeopardize your relationship with clients and hurt your bottom line.
For information on how CARCO Group, Inc. can help your company make the best hiring decisions, please visit www.carcogroup.com or call 866-557-5984.