We see professional resume-writers at work. There are websites which guide applicants to fake their resume in the name of presenting their credentials in a polished and professional manner. It is a global phenomenon that candidates glorify their resumes in order to make it impressive. Experience shows that some of these glorification or polishing leads to fabrication of facts and hence, lying. To make matters complicated and interesting, the resume is not a legal document and hence, the employer cannot do much after discovering a lie in the resume. Background verifications are mere postmortem; they do not replace the time and effort lost in recruiting the liar. So, it is crucial to be diligent right at the start than doing a postmortem. How can we suspect a resume to be fake?
Make the Right Start
Recruiters are often running against time. They have to meet their target number of resume submissions each day. Almost every role that they fill, needed to be filled yesterday! Given this backdrop, they are looking to complete a conversation with a potential candidate quickly.
The first conversation with the candidate is complex because the recruiter has to establish her credibility, build rapport, understand the candidate’s profile and aspiration, pitch the opportunity to attract the candidate, do a quick assessment of the fitment with the role and check the veracity of the information in the resume. All of this in one call!
Few years ago, it was a common practice for the recruiter to have a preliminary conversation with the candidate and follow it up with a personal meeting. However, the speed of business has increased tremendously and often the candidates do not have the time to have a detailed discussion. So, the recruiter has to accomplish the objective of finding a suitable candidate with a believable resume over a call.
Go over the details along with the candidate
As a common practice, one has to connect the dots between various pieces of information in the resume such as date of birth, age, educational qualification, colleges, universities, years of passing the examinations, full-time courses, part time courses, employment history, companies worked for, the salaries drawn, the accolades won along the way and the references. In the process, one can notice mismatches between information furnished in the resume and the statements of the candidate.
Given the experience of the recruiter, one can focus on the last five years to judge if the career graph makes sense and the pay at each stage seems commensurate with the positions held. Further, one can observe if the references are forthcoming, the degrees and the colleges seem genuine and the depth of experience is reflected in terms of the candidate’s knowledge of the industry, the company and the domain. This part is tricky and can be confusing for recruiters who are relatively less-experienced. So, when in doubt, one must get the senior to speak to the candidate for another round of discussion to take the final call on the candidature.
Evaluate and Discuss
Recruiters need to ask open-ended questions to the candidates. They need to understand the aspirations of the candidate and link them with the career graph. If the aspirations do not match the career graph in a pragmatic way, the recruiter must discuss openly with the candidate and reset his or her expectations. At this stage, the candidate can see that the recruiter is not impressed and his or her attempts of exaggerating the profile are visible to the recruiter. Most often, the candidate drops off the selection process suo moto and hence, saves time for the organization. Alternately, the recruiter drops the candidate. In either case, the search for alternate candidates starts immediately.
Had the recruiter not probed the aspirations and matched them with the career graph, the candidate would have gone ahead in the hiring process. In the event, the candidate successfully clears the next rounds, the organization would have set a bad precedence.
In 2012, Yahoo had to let go of its CEO on the issue of exaggerated resume. In spite of multiple discussions with experienced members of the Board and other agencies, the inconsistencies in the resume could not be spotted. The organization had to face embarrassment and lost precious time in the process. Hence, it is easier said than done.
The recruiter has to be unassuming, hold in-depth conversations with the candidate, pay attention to the details and apply one’s knowledge about the talent market to spot potential lies in the resume!