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Fibs that Job Seekers Tell

How honest are job candidates when applying for jobs? Are they really earning what they say they are at their present job? Do the really have the experience they claim? And what about the rest of the details on their applications? Are they likely to be accurate? How often are those bright-eyed, eager job candidates likely to be telling the truth about their prior experience and salary history?

Only about 50 percent of the time according to a new survey conducted by the Society of Human resource management. 

The most common job candidate fibs are falsifications about length of stay with former organizations, salary levels and former titles, according to the 1998 SHRM Reference Checking Survey.

For example, of the human resource professionals from organizations that use reference checks to verify length of employment, 53 percent discovered falsified information - either regularly or sometimes -
during reference checks. Of the respondents who verify past salaries, 51 percent regularly or sometimes found that job candidates provided misinformation. Other background information candidates frequently lied about were:

Criminal Records - 45%
Former Job Titles - 44%
Former Employers - 35%
Driving Records - 33%
Degrees - 30%
Credit - 24%
Schools Attended - 22%
Social Security Number - 14%

More than eight of 10 human resource professionals said that they regularly conduct reference checks for professional (89 percent), executive (85 percent), administrative (84 percent) and technical (81 percent) positions. However, regular reference checks were less likely for skilled-labor (68 percent), part-time (57 percent), temporary (43 percent) and seasonal (39 percent) positions. Eighty-six percent of respondents said their organizations require job applicants to sign waivers allowing employers to contact references and former employers.

On average, organizations check three references for every job candidate, according to the survey. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents said that the primary responsibility for conducting reference checks belongs to the human resource department.

What kinds of information do companies give out about former employees? The 1998 SHRM Reference Checking Survey shows the following results: 

Regularly Provided Reference Information
(percent of employers who provide information)

Dates of Employment - 98%
Eligibility for Re-hire - 42%
Salary History - 41%
Reason for Leaving - 19%
Job Qualification - 18%
Employability - 16%
Work Habits - 13%
People Skills - 11%
Violent/Bizarre Behavior - 8%
Personality Traits - 7%

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