The contents of a job applicant’s resume are – and should always be – the starting point in your company’s recruitment process.
Few applicants know or care that lying on a resume constitutes cause for the termination of their employment when it is discovered if it means they get the job. The “cause” arises from the fact that all employment relationships are built on trust. If employment is offered based on employee misrepresentations, the trust necessary for continued employment is breached and a serious character flaw is revealed that also undermines the necessary bonds of trust.
Many employers can be too trusting or in such need of a person to fill a vacancy that they skip verifying that the applicant is really whom he says he is and has the qualifications and experience he says he does.
Remember – no matter how amazing a candidate may appear to be on paper or presents in an interview, employers should always verify that the information an applicant provides during the recruitment process is accurate and true. This is because:
- Resumes can be embellished with skills, qualifications and experiences exaggerated (or even a complete work of fiction) so that an applicant becomes the successful candidate.
- Some people can become master interviewees with a bit of training, coaching and plenty of practice (including for example, those whom can’t make it through their probationary periods due to unreliability or incompetence; or who are paid union organizers whom move from employer to employer as part of their job description).
It is critical (no matter how desperate you may be) for every employer to test the information provided in an applicant’s resume or interview to ensure its truthful before any wage is set and any employment offer is made. While the recruitment process may be expensive in both time and money, those expenses grow exponentially when you add in the costs of training, termination, re-recruitment and re-training as well as organization and/or legal costs arising from a bad hire. Do your due diligence.
The following are three simple yet vital due diligence steps that every employer needs to implement as part of its recruitment process:
Check the validity of the applicant’s employment history. One way is to conduct an online search of the companies listed as well as the applicant’s LinkedIn profile to ensure that the information provided is accurate. In our digital age it is not hard to dig up the truth yet embellished titles, exaggerated job duties and altered dates of employment remain common “additions” to resumes. Also, identify “grey-areas” for follow-up, such as why a candidate has an employment history of short-term jobs or unexplained gaps in their employment history.
Check the validity of the applicant’s stated skills and qualifications. Search online and call educational institutions to verify degrees and certificates. Also ask candidates to perform or take you through how they would perform a task that would evidence that they possess the stated skill sets or qualifications. A not so uncommon embellishment on resumes in the education section of a resume is the representation that the applicant completed an educational program that was only started.
Call references. The best approach when calling references is to verify the identity and position of the person you are calling. If able, call a reference contact person on a company landline and verify that you are speaking to the actual previous employer/manager. Check the contact person out on LinkedIn and follow up with a LinkedIn thank you message to ensure you did not speak with an ‘imposter’. That is, thank them for their time in providing the reference. A lie doesn’t necessarily have to be an outright false statement. Omissions, like the fact that you spoke to a work friend and not a manager, can be just as dishonest and should cause you to question what else the applicant is lying about. Complete all such calls with the question: “So would you ever re-employ the applicant?” The response will be telling (i,e., a “No” or “Maybe” vs. “In a heartbeat”).
Don’t let a resume be the end point in your recruitment process as it would amount to inviting a complete stranger into your business, it’s practices and it’s trade secrets and all of the fallout that that could entail.
Sheryl Johnson is a Partner at Sullivan Mahoney. She has extensive experience in representing clients in both the provincial and federal jurisdictions on all matters relating to employment, labour, administrative and employment related privacy, cannabis, Aboriginal and Indigenous law as well as in civil litigation. She is the author of Sexual Harassment in Canada: A Guide for Understanding and Prevention. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org