Résumé fraud research

Dr. Henle was my Management 310 professor. We started the interview talking about how her shoulder is healing, and I’m happy to say it’s doing much better. Her academic history includes two bachelor’s degrees in management and psychology. She enjoyed how both disciplines brought different perspectives and approaches to examine similar problems. We soon moved on to talk about the research she has been conducting with her peers at universities across the country. Her background in psychology and business lead her to believe, “You need to think about the theory, you need to think about the research, but then you also need to make sure it’s applicable.”

Chris told me, “My main research area is on workplace deviance.” This has led her into studying resume fraud. It may be interesting to note that resume can be spelled in two different ways in the English language (the version in the header of this article and how it’s spelled in the article). Regardless of that fun fact, resume fraud can exist in the form of exaggerations, omissions, and outright lies. A few of the questions Chris and her colleagues are looking into include why resume fraud is happening, and is it bad for society?


The research included anonymous surveys of job applicants and company recruiters. It turns out resume fraud is common. Some of it is due to the economy. Some people are actually lying on resumes by presenting themselves as less experienced in order to apply for jobs they normally wouldn’t consider if the economy was better. However, it is usually personality traits that are the root cause of resume fraud. Jealousy about someone else getting interviews seems to be a more common source for resume fraud than a bad economy. In addition Chris told me, “People who have a certain moral identity, if they score lower on moral identity, they tend to engage in resume fraud more often.” The study has found that if an applicant believes it’s not wrong to lie then the applicant will more likely engage in resume fraud.

Recruiters expect applicants to lie a little bit. It’s that common. There still remains an invisible line each recruiter has drawn which will result in a lost job. So what are some possible consequences connected to resume fraud? Chris went into some more detail, “If they find out you lied, or you embellished too much, they are more likely to take back a job offer. Or if you’re on the job and they find out they may fire you as well.” Seems like common sense, right? It still depends on several factors such as the severity of the lie, the effect of the lie on the job, and at what point in the process of hiring you are at. If you are a good employee they may hesitate to fire you.

Companies are conducting more background checks as they become cheaper to do. It also saves companies quite a few headaches in the long run to do a background check. Background checks range from $50 to $500 depending on the extent of the information the company wants to gather. They check things like degrees, criminal records, and they may call former employers. Compared to the damage a bad hire can cause, usually ranging in the thousands of dollars, background checks are a prudent investment. Lies are very likely to get caught out and it is in applicants’ best interests not to lie on a resume.

The moral of the story is to not lie. Lies can come back to haunt you, and may keep you from that paycheck you may very well have been qualified for. A zookeeper who cares for rhinos does not a unicorn caretaker make.