May 8th, 2015 | Sterling

Résumé Lies on the Rise

importance of a background check policy

The job market is competitive and for those looking for their first real job or an upgrade on their current position, making a résumé to stand out in the pile isn’t easy. As a hiring manager, surely you’ve seen some creative attempts to grab your attention. Like the applicant who printed their résumé on florescent green paper. Or the one who included an 8×10 professional headshot with their application for an entry-level call center position. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who received a job application carefully handwritten in calligraphy and enclosed in an envelope with a wax seal stamp (true story).

And then there are the applicants who take a more subtle approach to making their résumé stand out – these are the ones who embellish, fabricate, stretch the truth, and lie about their qualifications in order to get to the next stage of the hiring process. In fact, 58% of hiring managers say that they’ve caught a lie on a résumé.

Unfortunately, it’s no easy feat to determine which candidates are a great fit (and honest) and which ones are just good imposters. Pants don’t suddenly burst into flames and noses don’t grow with each false statement that gets inked onto a résumé. So how can hiring managers read through the lies and find the candidate that is actually qualified for the position? The best solution is to verify the content of the résumé through employment and education verifications. Enter the résumé police – also known as background check providers.

Background screening companies have the inside track on how to reach the right person in payroll or human resources departments of your applicants’ former employers to get the scoop on their past employment details. Background checking companies are also familiar with the procedures for verifying degrees with most educational institutions both in Canada and internationally, which significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to make a hiring decision.

As professional background screeners sometimes the lies we catch are funny, sometimes they are strange, and sometimes they are just downright absurd. Enjoy some of the recent lies we caught for our clients:


A candidate who had applied for a job with a global IT staffing firm claimed that he left his previous job due to “lots of travelling”. The prospective employer contacted SterlingBackcheck to do an employment verification. While speaking with a representative in the payroll department, it became evident that there was more to the story. The candidate had allegedly stolen $9,400 from their clients. The candidate was responsible for repairing their clients’ POS terminals, but instead of repairing them, he was stealing thousands of dollars. The payroll representative proceeded to explain that this was the reason for the candidate’s termination from the company. In this specific incident, SterlingBackcheck was able to verify the real reason for leaving the position.


SterlingBackcheck was verifying the education history of a candidate who was applying for work with a large international law firm. Initial contact was made with the university where the candidate claimed they earned a Master of Law degree in July 2009. The university could not locate any record of the candidate. SterlingBackcheck requested a copy of the diploma from the candidate so that another attempt could be made. The candidate provided the document and upon forwarding it to the university for verification, it was determined that the diploma was a fake. Only two students had graduated with that particular degree in 2009 and neither of them were the candidate. Furthermore, there was no degree ceremony in July 2009 – the date the student provided on the faked degree!


A candidate applied for a position with a well-known financial institution. Upon contacting her former employer for an employment verification, he seemed to be hesitant to provide any information. Sensing that something was not quite right, SterlingBackcheck’s representative politely insisted that he check his employment records. He finally agreed to provide the information and when asked why the candidate left the position, he revealed that the candidate helped with payroll to help cover a co-worker’s vacation. She paid herself more than she was supposed to on two occasions and got caught. The former employer noted that although she was a lovely person, her “habits of having expensive tastes got her to do stupid things”.

For more information on how SterlingBackcheck services catch potential résumé lies, check out our infographic: Lies on a Résumé

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.