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Employment Strategy Corner: Finding the truth in resumes

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Phil Kemper

Over the past months, a good number of my clients have expressed concern over not just the heavy volume, but the content of the resumes they have been receiving from prospective candidates. It seems to be getting harder and harder to determine whether what one is reading is the truth or candidate fabrication.


It’s no secret that some people stretch the truth when writing their resume, and other people simply lie. It’s a sad fact and a damning indictment of what job seekers, many of them desperate, think they have to do to get a great job. Knowing this, how does a hiring manager separate fact from fiction on the resume and find out who the candidate really is?

Here are the three most common things people lie about when writing a resume and what to do about them:

Education
When interviewing the candidate for the first time, simply state the first step in the hiring process is to verify education. Ask for confirmation of the year of graduation for all degrees held. It is amazing how many candidates will list an MBA or similar graduate degree when they are really just in the process of getting one. Asking for these dates and indicating you will be calling a Registrar’s Office will usually weed out the truth about that degree.

Length of employment
Ask the candidate for specific dates of when they started and ended their employment. For example, an entry that states 2004–2005 could mean they started on December 15, 2004 and were terminated on January 5, 2005. This would mean three weeks of employment. Conversely, that same date range could mean a start of January 1, 2004 and end of December 31, 2005, which is a very different picture. Make sure you get those exact dates.

Why they left past employers
It can be tricky, but not impossible, to get at the truth of why someone left their past employers. Sometimes, even good candidates feel they have to hide the truth. That being said, if you feel like you’re getting a story when you ask the question, here’s the killer question: “Do you have a reference from this company?”

Framed this way, it begs a yes or no answer that should elicit the true story of why they left. There may be legitimate reasons for a candidate leaving a company and having no references, you’ll have to be the judge. You have to listen carefully to the answer. Don’t be afraid to keep digging if you don’t like what you are hearing. That’s the hallmark of a true sleuth. Only be satisfied when you get to the bottom of it.

See you here next month for our article: Tips on getting the top talent you need right now.

Philip Kemper is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 33-year-old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in permanent and contract staffing for tradeshows and exhibits, staging and equipment rental, business meetings and events production, video, training and incentives and more .A complete bio is on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/philip-kemper/2/795/308. For more information, visit www.Kemperassociates.net. To contact Phil with questions, comments and employment needs, email Kemperassoc@hotmail.com, or call his private phone line at (312) 944-6551.

 

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