Employers always need to be aware of the potential for resume fraud. Even as jobs have become easier to come by, experts warn of the need to be as vigilant as ever. Whatever the job market, slanting and padding resumes appear to be as common as ever.
A number of studies have tracked the frequency of resume fraud over the years. The most recent study, HireRight’s 2017 employment screening benchmark report, indicates 85 percent of employers have caught applicants lying on their resumes. Even more shocking, that’s an increase of nearly 20 percentage points from just five years ago when the job market was lot tighter.
Most common types of resume fraud
With the cost of hiring and training, employers should carefully vet potential employees to make sure the people they’re hiring really have the background and qualifications they claim. In its annual study, CareerBuilding found the five most common types of resume fraud include:
- Embellished skill sets: 61 percent
- Embellished responsibilities: 55 percent
- Dates of employment: 41 percent
- Job titles: 30 percent
- Academic degrees: 26 percent
Tips for conducting background checks on prospective employees???
Recent studies indicate that 72 percent of all companies now perform background checks. If your company is among them, these tips can help:?
- Be sure to alert potential employees that you will be verifying information contained on their resumes and conducting a background check. Some employers further require resumes be attached to applications and include a statement indicating everything in the packet is true and accurate for applicants to sign.
- If something on a resume or application screams that it’s too good to be true, start there for your background check. You can also prioritize by which claims are most important for the job description. If the position requires someone carry a special transportation license, be sure to confirm the applicant has the needed license they claim to have.
- Don’t rely solely on past employment references. Former employers who provide references face serious liability when providing employment references, so you’ll need to carefully analyze any information they provide. In Wisconsin specifically, employers face charges of defamation, invasion of privacy, retaliation and negligent referral or breach of duty to warn. The combination of these potential claims discourages many former employers from providing candid references if they provide them at all.
- Conduct background checks uniformly across all employee groups. For example, if an accounting firm decides to conduct a background check on one accountant, it must conduct background checks for all accountants. Conversely, if it decides not to conduct a background check for a secretary, it may not require a background check for any secretaries. To do otherwise would expose the company to discrimination claims.
- If financial background checks are deemed necessary, say for a job as a controller or financial adviser, you must have advance, signed authorization from the applicant to use a credit reporting agency or other third party. In the authorization, you will need to guarantee the applicant certain rights, such as the opportunity to see the information you collect if denied employment.
- Be careful with how you use the information you glean, especially with criminal background checks. Employers may deny employment to someone with a conviction record only if there is a substantial relationship between the crime and the person’s ability to perform the job. If, for example, you find an applicant has a drunken driving offense from a few years ago, you cannot let that influence a hiring decision for a position as a clerk. You may, however, let it influence a hiring decision for a bus driver.
Taking steps to protect your company from resume fraud helps you make better hiring decisions and avoid the legal liability that could come with hiring someone unqualified.
By Brent Smith, employment law attorney at Johns Flaherty & Collins. Contact Brent at 608-784-5678.