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Resume vs. employment application

Q: I run a small business. I was told by my attorney that I should not rely solely on a candidate’s resume. I have read that resumes are full of embellishments. How do I know what a candidate’s work history really is? Should I be using an employment application form? Thanks Job Doc.

A: Resumes are wonderful tools for better understanding a candidate’s background. A resume, though, is like an advertisement for the candidate. It may not be complete and it may include embellishments, errors or omissions. A resume is most often written by the candidate and the candidate can choose what to include or what to exclude. A candidate can omit a job from which they were terminated or state that they earned a bachelor’s degree, when they have not.

A well-designed employment application often forces a candidate to be more complete in the details of their work history. As an example, most employment applications ask why a candidate left a certain position. Most resumes do not include this information. An employment application may also ask about a candidate’s compensation history, which again, is information often not revealed in the candidate’s resume.

Employment applications often have “fine print” at the end or beginning of the form. The language in the “fine print” will state that, upon signing the completed employment application that the candidate agrees that the information provided is true, complete and accurate. In short, it pressures an applicant to be more truthful. There is often language that states that if a candidate is not truthful and complete (regardless of when the misstatement is discovered), that the candidate can be terminated if the candidate becomes employed by the company. For example, in 2013, John Doe claims to have a master’s degree at the time he applies to ABC Corporation, but does not hold such a degree. In 2014, it is discovered he never completed the requirements for his master’s degree, he can be terminated when the misstatement is discovered in 2014.

Candidates be warned. Be truthful about your work history and academic credentials.

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