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Your New Employee Lied on His Resume: Now What?

October 2, 2017

By: Crystal Spraggins

There’s no way to hire right without putting in time, effort, and money. The task often requires coordination (anyone who’s ever arranged a panel interview knows this only too well!), organization, and perseverance. Despite the fact that many job seekers secure positions through the hidden job market, highly qualified candidates don’t just fall out of the sky.

So you put in the work, and your shiny new employee joined the team last month. Yippee! Unfortunately, your good feelings of accomplishment were short lived, because you just found out that this man/woman lied on the resume.

Consider this: A recent CareerBuilder study found that 75% of HR managers have caught a lie on a resume. Common lies include fudging dates to cover gaps in employment, claiming accomplishments that actually belong to others, and faking degrees and other credentials. Yes, the job market is tough, and more than one employer has been accused of searching for that “purple squirrel,” but even a little lie (or two) on a resume can signal big problems. That’s why ignoring your discovery isn’t an option. However, rushing into action could complicate the situation even more.

Here then, is our best list of “My Employee Lied on His Resume” Do’s and Don’ts.

DO Verify the Information

Perhaps you heard through your network that XYZ employee didn’t really earn that MBA or that she was fired from her last job and not laid off. Now’s the time to move beyond rumor to fact.

It’s become standard practice to receive consent for and perform background checks on candidates during the hiring process, but things can get a little trickier for current employees. According to the EEOC, while such searches are permitted, employers must still remain mindful of employees’ rights. For example, if the employee’s original consent doesn’t extend to a background check for the purposes of retention, promotion, or reassignment, it’s probably not wise to do the search without letting the employee know what’s happening first. 

DO Confront the Employee

Tell the employee what you learned (“Stan, I met your former boss at a workshop and she told me she’d fired you for cause and that you weren’t restructured out of a job. Is that true?” or “Mary, it’s come to our attention that you didn’t graduate with a BA, although your resume states you did. Can we talk about this?”) and give him or her a chance to clear the record. Be reasonable, be respectful, and remain calm. Tell the employee if you intend to perform a background check at this time and what the potential consequences are likely to be if he or she lied.  

DO Consult Legal Counsel

While most states are “at will,” there are plenty of exceptions to the law, and you don’t want to violate any. Before you take employment action based on the information you’ve received, make sure that you’ve assessed the potential risks. And along those lines… 

DON’T Let Your Emotions Get the Better of You

It’s normal to feel disappointed, exasperated, or even angry after discovering that an employee lied and that that lie may have significant consequences for you. However, don’t permit your temper to overcome you. It’s a mistake to take your employee’s alleged dishonesty personal. 

DO Weigh Your Options Carefully

When someone lies on the resume, the employer basically has two choices: (1) fire the employee or (2) not fire the employee. Depending on the scope of the deception and the performance/potential of the employee, retention – and not termination – might make sense. On the other hand, termination might be the only wise option. The point is, a careful weighing of the facts is needed before moving forward. Knee-jerk reactions are not recommended.

Lying on the resume can seem like a terrible abuse of trust, and perhaps it is. Still, smart employers will proceed carefully with the news, which is the only way to ensure that any decision promotes the company’s long and short-term interests.

Crystal Spraggins

Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at:

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