85% of Job Applicants Tell Lies

85% of Job Applicants Tell Lies

 For years I have been telling management teams that over 60% of all resumes contain blatant untruths, which is a scary number in itself. It turns out that I have been misleading everyone as according to “The 2017 HireRight Employment Report” there are a staggering 85% of job applicants who tell lies in their resumes.


But I do not want to talk about the integrity of our job applicants as I feel there is a far more critical question that needs to be asked:


Why would 85% of job applicants feel that they need to lie to get an interview?


Because I would be 100% confident in stating that there are way more than 15% of the population that are honest human beings, and yet for some reason honest individuals feel that they need to lie in their resumes. Maybe it is because they think everyone else is (the Tour de France syndrome) and therefore to compete and win they also need to cheat.


Or maybe there is another reason ……… maybe these job applicants now understand how many recruiters use ATS programs to screen applicants for them. Yes, that is right, many recruiters do not actually screen applicant resumes they allow the ATS program to “search” for keywords and only review applicant resumes that have been recommended by their ATS. Therefore to even have a resume viewed by a recruiter, the resume needs to contain all of the potential search terms that may be used so that the ATS recommends the applicant for consideration.


What happens if the search words used do not exactly reflect the requirements of the role? How many potentially great applicants are not even being considered?


Maybe it is time to review the process and get some honesty and integrity back into the recruitment process. Importantly we need to make sure that we don’t lose great candidates just because they are not sophisticated, or dishonest, resume writers. We need to start measuring a candidate’s “fit” to the role earlier.


Screening Job Applicants

I understand the logistical difficulties screening high volumes of job applicants, but shouldn’t the screening be based on learnable skills and knowledge not on search words. We recommend the following process:

   1. Develop a Role Benchmark

       - Identify the critical success attributes, the abilities, behaviours and interests of proven high performers     

   2. Develop a Skills/Knowledge Test

       - Create a PeoplogicaSkills test that measures some of the critical success attributes      

   3. Initial Screening?

       - Ask every applicant to complete the Skills Test and set a minimum pass rate (ie 75%)

       - Use the ATS system to search for key words

       - Develop a list for resume review:

         i. A List = All applicants exceeding minimum pass rate and are recommended by ATS

        ii. B List = All applicants exceeding minimum pass rate but not recommended by ATS


There is no doubt that most do not enjoy the whole process of applicant screening, but what needs to be front and centre is that if you inadvertently screen out a potential high performer the hidden costs are substantial. Use automation and testing because they will improve the process, but do not forget that the recruitment process is a people process, it cannot be fully automated.