How to Spot Lies in a Resume

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How to Spot Lies in a Resume

The Computer Merchant, Ltd. (Frank Anigbo)

It is human nature to put one’s best face forward, maybe even burnish facts to enhance commonplace achievements. Most people do it to varying degrees. But when it comes to the contents of one’s resume, it is wise to stick to facts or risk a potentially embarrassing job interview.

Unfortunately for employers, an estimated 30 to 40% of job applicants do bend the truth on their resumes more than a little. The good news is that most resume deception follow very similar patterns and can be easily spotted with some diligence.

The following are the most common lies found in resumes.

Employment History

Some people believe that gaps in employment are a very bad thing, so they may be tempted to pad dates to cover such gaps. While a gap between jobs may be due to loss of a job or time off for personal reasons, it is far better to disclose and explain a gap than to cover it up and risk discovery. Then there are job seekers who flat out claim years of experience at non-existent companies. For the employer, a quick check with previous employers will easily uncover any date padding. Another effective strategy for uncovering employment history embellishment is to verbally ask the candidate what school they attended and what year they graduated. Most people with made-up employment history find it too great a mental challenge to immediately tie the year of graduation with their claimed employment history.

Experience Level

From inflated job titles to overly fantastic job descriptions, this is the most commonly fudged part of a resume. It is also the easiest to raise suspicion. For the employer, have the candidate verbally narrate their experience and make note of inconsistencies. A lack of details and diminished confidence in speaking are usual giveaways. For positions with easy-to-identify knowledge such as most IT jobs, test their working knowledge with easy enough problems to solve.


Like experience level, some job seekers claim certifications they do not have and key roles they did not play. Claims such as “single-handedly invented a system that saves the company 2 million dollars each year” should raise questions. For the employer, ask the candidate to talk you through the details of claimed achievements.


The lack of a degree is often a big disqualifier for most candidates, especially in the absence of years of relevant working experience. It is little wonder then that most people who do not have college degrees claim that they do. Some even include non-existent colleges as the source of their diploma. For the employer, a background investigation from one of several professional BI firms is enough to out this lie.

At The Computer Merchant, we utilize a state of the art candidate sourcing system to detect inconsistencies in candidate resumes and flag them for thorough investigation. Our team of expert technical recruiters utilize a variety of automated and human intelligence tools to vet each candidate before they are presented to our clients.


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