Finding the truth in resumes

Padding the resume has been around as long as resumes themselves. And despite the fact that you'd think a tight economy would encourage more of this practice, is hasn't, according to Jude Werra, whose company produces the semi-annual Liars Index, a report that measures the percentage of people who misrepresent their education claims.

Based on roughly 300 résumés, results calculated for the second half of 2002 show a decline to 13.71%, the lowest cumulative two-year average ever.

If you're trying spot a suspicious resume, experts advise the following:

  • Drill down with lots of questions for an applicant to expose deceit. "Most people aren't good at misrepresenting themselves," Werra says.

  • When job candidates don't include dates on their résumés, ask why. Werra finds that most will admit to not having particular experience but say someone else told them to include it.

  • Look for patterns, and you'll probably pick up on the discomfort that's apparent when something isn't right. Learning that an applicant got fired and left a company off his résumé should knock that candidate off the list. The more someone avoids telling the story, or behaves defensively, "the more suspicious and less attractive they become," Werra says.