The New Resume Lie: Look Dumber?

Jason Morris

I first came across this topic earlier today reading Sam Narisi’s blog, HR Recruiting Alert.  A brilliant piece that originated from an article in last months Wall Street Journal.  Applicants are dumbing down their resumes so they don’t look OVERQUALIFIED!  In Narisi’s piece, “The New Lie Applicants Are Telling.” he states:

With jobs hard to come by, more and more applicants are lying on their resumes. But they’re not the kind of lies you’re used to.

As HR pros know, it’s not out of the question for candidates to inflate their past job titles and duties, or add academic degrees that were never completed.

But these days, many out-of-work managers are looking for stop-gap jobs and are stretching the truth in a different way — by “dumbing down” their credentials so they don’t appear overqualified.

A lot of formerly high-up employees are willing to step a few rungs down the ladder just to get a steady paycheck. Often, that requires them to convince hiring managers they won’t jump ship the moment the market improves and something better comes up.

One way their doing that: changing job titles to look less impressive, according to the Wall Street Journal. For example, one marketing exec listed her previous jobs as “manager” and “trend researcher” to “staff” and “office support.”

Candidates are also hiding degrees and other academic achievements. One woman looking for temporary clerical work said she received no calls from employers until she stopped listing her master’s degree on her resume.

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According to the Wall Street Journal’s article:

Kristin Konopka sent out nearly 100 copies of her résumé in January in search of receptionist work, but got only one callback. That’s when Ms. Konopka, a 29-year-old New York actress and yoga teacher, took her master’s degree and academic teaching experience off her résumé.

The calls started coming in. The slimmer version of her résumé landed in 30 in-boxes and earned her three callbacks and two interviews. “It definitely picked up the interest,” says Ms. Konopka, who realized quickly that people don’t “want to hire anyone who is overqualified.”

Securing work in a tight economy means more job seekers might find themselves applying for positions below their qualifications. Many unemployed professionals are willing to take paycuts for the promise of a paycheck. But to get a foot in the door, candidates are gearing down their résumés by hiding advanced degrees, changing too-lofty titles, shortening work experience descriptions, and removing awards and accolades.

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So, when we started EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 one of our pitches was not to overpay candidates because they lied about their qualifications.  I guess employers need to be cautious and do background checks so not to pay market value when they are overqualified? Chew on that for a while???

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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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