What Freud Can Teach Us About Resume Fraud
February 11, 2015
The psychological teachings of Sigmund Freud might not be the first to come to mind as a guide for hiring new employees, but some of his theories about the elements of the personality can be applicable when conducting resume verifications.
Freud’s views hold that the “id” is responsible for instinctive behavior, the “ego” reins in the “id,” and the “superego” consists of our morals. Job seekers tend to be impulsive when preparing their resumes, so consider Freud’s teachings to understand what candidates are going through when they apply for a job with your company.
Id: “I should adjust my personal information and education to make myself sound better.”
The id doesn’t care about consequences, so this segment of the personality will lie or provide bogus information. The job candidate may act on impulse when preparing a resume, listing educational awards and job history that doesn’t exist. The person’s ego will try to fight this instinct in an attempt to rein in the id. It might try to encourage the job seeker to fib instead of using an outright lie. The superego has a tough road ahead in its efforts to get your candidate to tell the absolute truth.
When you know that this battle is taking place in the mind of a potential employee, you can see why resume verifications are essential. It’s becoming more common for candidates to make misrepresentations when applying for jobs (in fact, EmployeeScreenIQ finds a discrepancy on 50% of the information verified), so you need to protect your company by conducting a thorough analysis.
Id: “I need to make up positions for gaps in my employment history.”
The ego wants to make up for any untruth by attempting to shrink the gaps in employment, as it knows they don’t reflect well on a job seeker’s credibility. The superego believes that these breaks speak for themselves and it’s better to simply list the gaps with a description about professional development efforts.
Job candidates know how harmful gaps in employment can appear on a resume, so they’ll attempt to minimize them as much as possible. These interruptions are easier to fake than job skills or education, which is why resume verifications can be useful in discovering the truth.
Id: “I’m more likely to be hired if I lie about my job skills.”
Because it doesn’t want to blatantly lie, the ego will try to embellish the resume a bit with respect to job skills. The candidate may list responsibilities with grandiose language or use action verbs straight out of a thesaurus. The superego may not have enough influence to ensure 100% honesty, so the candidate may list skills that are more in line with those of his or her immediate superior.
A resume verification may not be able to reveal exact qualifications as they relate to job skills, but there is much information that can be gleaned from discrepancies in education or experience. While most discrepancies will be minor, there are some you might not be able to ignore.
In addition, many potential employees will be truthful and upfront about their past experience, but resume verifications are a great tool to ensure you find the best candidate for the job. Don’t forget Freud’s model to ensure you keep the id, the ego and the superego in check.