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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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.