From the Desk of Brad Smart: You Cannot Believe Resumes

Have you mis-hired people because they “fooled you?” Of course you have. Years ago we all thought that social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) would force people to NOT exaggerate their successes and hide their failures when job hunting. Guess that didn’t work! We all know now that exaggerations are extreme. As you’ve read, people become anxious and depressed when they “see” that their life is not as perfect as everyone else’s.

Trouble is, the impact on the corporate world is devastating. Job hunters are not forthcoming – their resumes and interview answers are gamed. They – let’s be blunt – lie to get jobs and they get away with it. The published statistics on lying are shocking:

  • 57% lied about skills, 55% embellished responsibilities
  • Checkster: 78% lie on applications
  • CNBC: “over half” lie on resumes
  • HR Mgmt. (refer to HireRight): 85% lie on applications
  • SHRM: 86% of 4,000 HR members surveyed found lies, up from 66% five years ago
  • Stanford experiment: 92% lied on both resume and LinkedIn profiles when offered prizes of $100 for creating the resume best fitting a job they wanted
  • Credit Donkey: 46+% lie on applications
  • Employee Screen IQ: 50% discrepancies on job history
  • Time Magazine (2006): 43% lies on resumes
  • Conference in Hawaii: 90% admitted lying on resume
  • HireRight: 27% serious lies on applications
  • Freakonomics (book): cites literature showing 50%+ lies
  • 53% of resumes and job applications contain falsifications
  • Career Builder: 45% lie on resumes (professional’s estimate)
  • Undercover Recruiter: 46% lie on resumes
  • Inc.: 85% lie on applications
  • Fortune: 70% lie on applications in financial services
  • Monster: 50% lie on resumes
  • RNnetwork: 57% nurses lie on applications

Actually, the stats don’t shock you, do they? Applicants are sure they can get away with deception because they know most companies will not let you talk to applicants’ managers … for fear of lawsuits. And, as you know, candidates Google, “How to lie on your resume” and “How to game the hiring interview” and “How to beat selection tests” and pages and pages of “good advice” pop-up. A lot of those articles justify lying to get jobs by pointing out, “Everyone does it.”

So what do you do to try and verify what candidates claim? You ask them for references and they give you names of friends who only say positive things about them. And you go to Human Resource departments, who confirm dates and titles, but not much more unless you jump through hoops.

How to stop being “fooled” by candidates:

Do background checks. They flush out egregious lies, like claiming to have a certain college degree. But clever liars get away with claiming all sorts of accomplishments and successes that are not true, and hiding things such as poor performance, bad relationships with people, or poor work ethic.

Use Topgrading Methods:

The Topgrading Truth Motivator. Simply tell applicants that a final step in hiring is for them to arrange reference calls with their managers when a job offer is made. A Players, for 50 years, have been eager to arrange the calls. Applicants with hyped resumes don’t want you to talk with their managers, so they drop out. Good!

Use the PreScreen Snapshot (3-month free trial) by clicking here. Get set up in 30-minutes. Send applicants a “Thank-you note” which will also ask them to please provide “a little more information” about their two most recent jobs and education. The PreScreen Snapshot contains the Truth Motivator and shows you ACCURATE performance ratings by recent managers. Really!

Pre-order Foolproof Hiring: Powerful, Proven Keys to Hiring High Performers by clicking here. It’s a field manual – five simple, common sense, free things you can do immediately to stop being fooled by low performers. Release date is April 25, 2023.

It’s tacky to write blogs that promote your stuff, but we’re guilty of it from time-to-time because probably 50% of your hires turn out to disappoint you. Topgrading is the only method proven to solve the “fooling you” problem.

Dr. Brad Smart is Founder and CEO of Topgrading, Inc. Topgrading is dedicated to helping companies of all sizes maximize the hiring of high performers. Topgrading assesses candidates for senior positions (where the costs of mis-hires are high) and trains all managers to create teams of almost all high performers.

Brad has seven published books on hiring; the most recent three (the first, second, and third editions of Topgrading) were all best sellers. On April 25, 2023 Brad, and President Chris Mursau’s new book, Foolproof Hiring (Forbes Books), will be released. Pre-order Foolproof Hiring on Amazon by clicking here.

Brad can be reached at

To learn more, download our free eGuide or attend our next Topgrading Webinar. Our webinar explains the most effective recruitment methods, how to immediately identify the most honest, high performing applicants, and how to (finally!) verify what candidates tell you (since reference calls are usually worthless).

Contact us to learn more.

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. Our proven hiring process will transform your selection methodology so that you get better hiring results across all industries, including hiring HR professionals.  Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow outstanding team members. Contact us to learn more!

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