HRM Five: Signs of a cooked-up CV

How to figure out if that impressive résumé may be more embellishment than reality.

A recent poll by staffing firm OfficeTeam has found that résumé lies are on the rise.

Out of more than 1,000 US workers surveyed, almost half said that they knew someone who included false information on a résumé.  The most frequently doctored areas were job experience (76%) and job duties (55%).

However, only around half (53%) of more than 300 senior managers surveyed suspected applicants of embellishing their résumés. Almost four out of 10 (38%) discarded candidates from consideration after discovering the deception.

Interestingly, more men and more millennials (51% and 39% respectively) knew someone who had lied on their résumé.

Five signs of an embellished résumé could include:

  1. Vague descriptions such as “familiar with” or “involved in”. According to OfficeTeam, these suggest that “the candidate is trying to cover up a lack of direct experience”.
  2. Questionable or missing dates such as positions listed by years without mention of months, or large gaps between stints.
  3. Conflicting details from references. “Ask initial contacts about additional people you can speak to about the prospective hire,” says OfficeTeam.
  4. Disparity with social media profiles such as a LinkedIn profile or website. However, OfficeTeam cautions, “Don't always take what you find on the internet at face value.” Disparities could be due to legal issues with how a candidate talks about his experience on public forums, or even mistaken identity.
  5. Suspicious cues during an interview such as negative body language (fidgeting, or lack of eye contact for example), and an inability to vouch for information described on their résumé.

OfficeTeam suggests that employers should conduct thorough interviews, reference checks, and skills testing to verify information and avoid costly hiring mistakes.


Yamini Chinnuswamy offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.

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