Liar, Liar – Your Pants and the Rest of You Are Fired!

Posted · Add Comment
Lying on resumes is a bad idea

<Sigh.> Despite the constant strides forward in improving the speed and precision HireRight applies in sniffing out falsehoods and misrepresentations, candidates continue to lie on job applications and resumes.

Big mistake. Providing misinformation can not only eliminate an otherwise-qualified candidate from consideration for a job but get them fired even years later if they do manage to get hired.[1]

As noted in our upcoming 2020 Global Benchmark Report, “Most companies that conduct background checks continue to find that candidates misrepresent themselves on their application forms and CVs/resumes.”

This even includes C-level offices and members of Executive Boards.

The things people lie about are fairly consistent worldwide, although the ranking changes by region.

In which areas have you uncovered discrepancies with job candidates as a result of background screening?

Global U.S. and Canada EMEA APAC
Previous employment (54%) Criminal convictions (62%) Previous employment (66%) Previous employment (79%)
Criminal convictions (53%) Previous employment (47%) Education credentials (64%) Education credentials (62%)
Education credentials (45%) Tested positive on a drug test (45%) Criminal convictions (42%) Criminal convictions (25%)
Tested positive on a drug test (33%) Driver motor vehicle records (39%) Credit (36%) Professional licenses (19%)

For more details on candidate misrepresentation, be sure to read HireRight’s 2020 Global Employment Screening Benchmark Report, available soon in our Resource Library.

…and nothing but the truth

If a candidate lies on their resume or job application, there’s a very good chance you’ll catch them. We can check their educational credentials and licensure. Confirm their identity. We can in touch with their former employers and confirm their job titles and dates of employment. Our drug testing resources are prolific. We can scour available public records to help identify criminal convictions. And if our customers wish, we will scan their social media profiles, driving records, conduct credit checks and financial records, even if they’ve lived, worked, or attended school in other countries.

We’ve been doing a long, long time. It’s not a good idea for candidates to lie to you or to us.

Here are some tips to help you eliminate liars early in the qualification process and save everyone a lot of grief.

Have you Reddit?

First, to get a sense of how and why some job candidates lie, check out It’s a great way to better understand their struggles in finding employment, and get the truth straight from their mouths, er, keyboards.

Sadly, you’ll find how prevalent fabricating backgrounds are. You can search out terms like “lie” or “lying.” The results may surprise and demoralize you. One Reddit thread includes confessions —perhaps boasts is a better term — from candidates on where and how they have cheated. One candidate wrote that his girlfriend went so far as to create a bogus labor union journal, taking out an LLC and domain name, but never publishing anything. She put that as several years of work experience on her resume. She thought that was clever. Of course, that could have been easily caught. But she was applying to a small organization that didn’t conduct background checks.

You were a WHAT?

The people wearing the character costumes at Disneyland are called “Cast Members.” People who prepare the food at Subway are called “Sandwich Artists.” Fair enough. But some candidates create bogus, overly-creative job titles or inflate their duties. Watch for them. One guy wrote he had been the head of “Fraud Detection” because he caught someone trying to use fake promo codes. Another who worked on washed silverware at a restaurant said he was a “Cutlery maintenance technician.” Watch out for “guru,” “maverick,” “brand ambassador,” “evangelist,” and “hotshot” in the job title. When interviewing, ask them to expound on their duties.

Lying about education shows no class

We’ve found many people, including execs, lie about where they went to school and/or what degree(s) they earned. As we noted about Ms. Jones and MIT, one’s educational background is fairly easy to verify. Read our blog, “Getting Schooled in Education Verification,” in which we note that many employers don’t include degree confirmation in their background checks. Many candidates know this and capitalize on it, claiming they went to schools they actually didn’t attend and earning degrees they never earned. A best practice is to validate candidates’ education, particularly if having received credentials in a field such as engineering, medicine, or other specialized fields demands specific learned skills.

Familiarity breeds contempt no job

Do things look familiar in the candidate’s cover letter, like you’ve seen them before? Do some of the achievements stated on the resume ring a bell? You could have a plagiarist on your hands. The Internet is full of examples of many types of resumes, specifically tuned for sales, marketing, teaching, engineering, and finance. If a phrase sounds like it came from a can, Google the phrase; you may find it’s quite popular and used on resume or cover letter templates. If a candidate is stealing what someone else wrote, they may be inclined to be dishonest as your employee.

How about a date?

If a candidate lists the years they worked at a previous employer but don’t state the months, they may be trying to cover up periods of unemployment. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with not being employed for lengths of time; companies, particularly recently, have had to endure Reductions in Force. But fudging on employment dates may indicate a proclivity to bury the truth. Also, since verifying employment dates is standard operating procedure when conducting a background check, a candidate who tries to mask their employment dates could be an idiot.

The jig’s up

Conduct a background check on every job candidate, including execs. It’s that simple. We’re here to help protect you from the repercussions of hiring who is not honest. We’ll close by quoting in an article directed toward candidates who might consider lying on their resume:

“Not all employers conduct formal background checks. But if you encounter one that does, it will sink you if you’re being untruthful. If a prospective employer conducts a background check and discovers you’ve lied (either directly or by omission) about your work history, criminal past, education, professional certifications, or other key facts, don’t expect a job offer.”


Here endeth the lesson.



[1] Marilee Jones, the former dean of admissions (!) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had stated when interviewing that she had earned degrees from three colleges in the state of New York: Albany Medical College, Union College, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In truth, she had received no degrees from any of those institutions or from anywhere else for that matter. When the facts were exposed, Ms. Jones was fired— 28 years after being hired.


Lewis Lustman

Lewis Lustman is a content marketer who enjoys developing materials that engage, inform, challenge, and hopefully entertain my audience. Lewis is a former journalist for Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, and has worked for a number of leading advertising, marketing, technology, and PR firms over the years. Interested in a topic that he hasn't yet tackled? Drop him a line in the comments section!

More Posts

Follow Me:



Comments are closed.