Tight job markets with an excess of applicants over positions result in many job seekers committing fraud to try to rise higher in the candidate pool. It has been estimated that thirty percent of all candidates will engage in some sort of deception in these circumstances in order to stand out from the crowd (Gomez-Mejia, Balkin, & Cardy, 2016, 177). The resume padding might include shifts in dates, subjects studied, or experience so that the experience and education more closely matches the required or preferred qualifications of candidates (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2016).
Fraud in the resumes of job seekers is a critical issue for organizations because it results in applicants potentially being rewarded for lying, with a new job offer that they may not be qualified for. Not only does this create a risk that the applicant is not able to fulfill the duties as expected, it also means that the applicant may be likely to commit fraud again if they perceive it to be in their interest. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for an organization. A further issue is the misrepresentation of credentials for regulated professions. Advanced degrees and regulations, such as a board of medicine or nursing, are created to ensure that the persons who fulfill the responsibilities of these positions have previously proven that they are capable of it.
Two key learnings
Two key learnings from the case are to be carefully fact check all information offered by candidates, and to consider such fact checking to be a screening regarding the ethical character of the candidate. It is particularly important to fact check that information in resumes or interviews on which a decision is going to be based, but it is also a handy way to streamline candidates because if they are willing to be deceptive in presenting their qualifications they are likely willing to be deceptive in fulfilling their duties in the organization. Despite this, many organizations do not take the time and effort required to verify the information provided by applicants on their resumes. The result can be the hiring of a candidate who has not only not had the required experience or education, but also has shown a lack of moral character relating to their career and job performance.
Cleary, Walter and Jackson (2013) describe how resume fraud is a growing problem, however most instances are fairly subtle. It is rare, for example, for someone to lie about having a degree if they do not have one (Cleary et al., 2013). Often it becomes clear that a point was exaggerated or false in an interview situation, when detailed question responses either clarify the point on the resume, or the candidate’s answers are not aligned with what was stated on their resume (Cleary et al., 2013).
It can be very difficult to verify all information on a resume, particularly regarding specific duties or supervisory experience. Previous employers may not have specific information on hand, and former managers may have also found new employment. This can create a situation where significant effort is required for resume verification, and that effort may not result be successful. In those cases, a face to face meeting and requesting more details from the candidate can provide some idea of whether the detail is true or fabricated.
The ethical qualities of candidates are made clear when they must make a difficult decision between deceptive information on their resume to have an advantage in a difficult job market. Those candidates with strong ethical principles are less likely to be tempted, and therefore they are with being found for recruitment and selection purposes. While fact checking resumes takes considerable time, it is therefore an important human resources function.
- Cleary, M., Walter, G., & Jackson, D. (2013). ‘Is that for real?’: curriculum vitae padding. Journal of clinical nursing, 22(17-18), 2363-2365.
- Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, D., & Cardy, R. (2016). Managing Human Resources. Pearson.