At Work: Cutting Down on Résumé Liars
By Melissa Korn
Résumé liars, beware: your days may be numbered.
When a top spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT -0.55% resigned earlier this month after the company discovered he had lied about earning his college degree, it was only the latest high-profile résumé blunder by a company executive. But, thanks to the confluence of technology, social networks and credentials, it may be among the last.
Fifty-eight percent of hiring managers say they’ve caught a lie on a résumé, according to a recent Harris Poll survey commissioned by CareerBuilder. One-third of respondents reported seeing academic credentials as among the most common lies, while embellished job descriptions and employment dates were even more prevalent—or at least uncovered more regularly.
“It happens more often than people think,” says Gustavo Pena, managing partner at Ascendo Resources, an executive placement firm. Companies spend a lot of money and time checking criminal records and even candidates’ credit scores, but they aren’t as disciplined when it comes to educational credentials.
Mr. Pena estimates that only about 30% of his clients request educational background searches, even when they ask his firm to run other checks. Fortune 500 companies, especially those in financial services, tend to have more rigorous educational checks.
Making it harder for employers is the rise of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and technical certifications, which can burnish a job candidate’s profile but may be difficult to verify.
“The more credentials…and the more varied they are, the tougher it becomes to really separate truth from fiction,” says Matthew Pittinsky, CEO of credential verification firm Parchment Inc.
The good news for employers, though, is that it will soon be harder for job applicants to fake their B.A.
Parchment, which works with about 15% of U.S. high schools and 450 colleges, creates secure digital transcripts and diplomas for job seekers. Employers can only take advantage of the service if schools are on board, but Mr. Pittinsky says he’s seeing a surge in interest from educational institutions.
A new digital “badging” platform from Pearson PSON.LN +0.75% PLC allows people to post directly to sites like LinkedIn displaying official certifications and licenses, for expert use of Adobe ADBE -0.08%software, for example.
The increasingly social element of networking may out some liars, too. Though LinkedIn doesn’t independently verify members’ profile details, it has been piloting a program that allows course providers like Udacity to auto-fill information about the Web courses a person has completed.