Are embellished resumes disqualifiers?
When recruiting makes the rules and applicant have to play the game, "embellishment" isn't a black-and-white question.Follow @ITCatalysts
We have been trying to hire a new person for our staff. With the economy down, there are many people on the market who have been recently laid off. We have seen an increase in "embellished" resumes, including a few listing fictitious college degrees.
Quite a few of the candidates had long-term positions and are new to job seeking. We also sense some desperation in candidates who are concerned about finding new positions.
What limits should a prospective employer have on embellishments? Does the character of the person come into play?
- Still hiring
Dear Rarity ...
In sorting out an answer to a question like this, it's worthwhile to make sure you're asking the question in the best possible way, because, as you know, if you ask the wrong question, even the right answer is the wrong answer.
Seems to me you have only two questions that really matter: (1) Will an applicant be successful in the role for which you're hiring; and (2) will the applicant prove to be a top-notch employee over the longer haul.
From the perspective of the first question, I'd have to say the embellishments matter very little. Imagine, for example, someone claims five years of experience as a DB2 DBA and it turns out to be three years of hands-on experience with a DBA title plus two working in a different role, but DB2 was involved and their responsibilities included data design.
A clear case of embellishment - honest enough to not be a lie, but close enough to the edge that it isn't in the so-called "ethical center."
It doesn't pass the so-what test for question #1, because I've known technical professionals whose twenty years of experience proved to be the legendary one year of experience repeated twenty times. Your applicant can do the job or not. Give the applicant some real-world test-cases and some time, and have him or her show you what to do about them.
They'll handle the situations well or they won't.
The great long-term employee question is the tougher one, because when you can't trust an employee to give you an honest count, as a manager you have to work too danged hard to find out what's really going on in your organization. Never mind character … you work too hard already without taking on a burden like this.
This isn't a black-and-white situation, though, because for those who are out of work, times really are very tough out there and getting tougher. And, standard recruiting practice is to use computerized skill-to-task matching as a way to screen resumes. Call it industry worst practice, because it's guaranteed to screen out every applicant who is ambitious, trying to stretch into their next role instead of repeating the last one.