Staffing Blog

Resume Screening: How We Separate Truth from Tall Tales

Not long ago, one of our recruiters stumbled upon a rare and unusual candidate during our resume screening. This young guy was 25 years old, had earned a college degree, and somehow managed to acquire 9 years of IT security experience along the way. The math seems off, right? Needless to say, that candidate never made it in front of a client.

Fortunately, most job candidates are honest people. They want to win you over on their merits. However, just like some apples are hiding worms, some great resumes misrepresent the full truth.

Thankfully, most misleading applications fall apart under the scrutiny of thorough resume screening. The trick is to catch the inconsistency before you exhaust your time, your mental efforts, and your money any further. Here’s what we do when vetting our candidates.

Don’t Rely on the Candidate’s Body Language Alone

Most people believe they can tell when someone is stretching the truth during interviews. There are telltale signs, right? Fidgeting? Looking up and to the left when talking? False facial expressions? Unfortunately, some of those signs are outright wrong while others are tough to gauge.

Though you can learn to spot nuanced mannerisms, that strategy is fraught with problems. Often, you miss the substance of a candidate’s responses. Most people are terrible at multitasking. Trying to divide your attention between the content of their responses and their body language can hurt the interview. And with the speed at which candidates are swept up, you cannot throw away the limited face time you get. That is why we use thorough resume screening to remove deceptive candidates rather than trying to play at being a body language specialist.

Research, Research, Research

The Internet is a beautiful tool. When a candidate pads his or her IT resume, a little online sleuthing can unveil the real truth. Start with their LinkedIn profiles. Candidates tailor falsehoods to your business. Their aim is to impress you. Overinflated qualifications or falsified credentials are constructed with the hopes of catching your eye. Yet candidates rarely will change their LinkedIn profile to better correspond with their sketchy resume.

Why? Because most are applying to several positions at once, fabricating different details to fit different employers. Your main focus should be on work history, education, and primary skills. Any of those omitted from LinkedIn profiles are a red flag.

However, if there is a job or skillset not included on the resume but present on LinkedIn, the concern should not be as high. A resume is a self-marketing document. When trying to sharpen their sales pitch, they may leave off certain positions, mainly irrelevant to you. If you are concerned about any omissions of that type, ask them during the interview process. Most will be candid about their reasoning and put your fears to bed.

Leave No Reference Uncalled

Always check references. They are a great way to verify whether or not a candidate is being truthful. For starters, you can typically identify a phony reference through LinkedIn. Does that person have an online trail that links him or her back to a specific company? Does he or she have any connections? Phantom references, sporting a limited job history and a tiny network, are easy enough to spot.

But what about when real people are used to stretched the truth? Grill them on the candidate’s resume. Salary is always a good way to catch deceptive references. Also, check any growth statistics, revenue gains, or productivity increases listed on a candidate’s resume. Ask what they think is the candidate’s greatest contribution and see how it lines up with what was volunteered on the resume.

Working with Resume Screening Pros

Want to narrow down the chances that your candidate is misrepresenting his or herself? There are two professional partners you can contact: background screening professionals and IT staffing firms.

Background screening services can provide you with a clear assessment as to whether or not your gut reaction is right about a candidate’s claims. Though their ability to separate fact from fiction is strong, they can add time to the hiring process, depending on the depth of your search. Professional IT staffing services, on the other hand, can help quickly eliminate candidates from the running with precise resume screening.

We at Platform Staffing are highly experienced at spotting when a candidate has stretched the truth. We interact with thousands of candidates each year and have enough resume screening experience to spot the telltale signs of questionable resumes with high accuracy. Moreover, we’ll determine whether or not a candidate is a good technical or cultural fit before we send them your way. Contact us today to find candidates that live up to their claims.