Yes. Multiple times. Lying about degrees, certifications, employment dates, etc. is less of a problem today. I think everyone FINALLY got the memo that said lying on your resume about the easy-to-catch stuff was really a fool’s errand.
Now for the nuanced part of the answer. Lying — or enhancement, if you will — is still occurring in the accomplishments section of resumes. We call it accomplishment creep.
In most screening processes, this problem can go undetected even by the most diligent of recruiters. My firm handles only executive level, frequently mission-critical assignments, so we poke around and dig a lot into the candidate’s background and resume claims. I guess this intensity goes back to my old days as a crime writer and investigative reporter for a major daily newspaper in Texas. When something doesn’t sound right, or feel right, then I become exceptionally curious, bordering on nosey.
So back to your question: When we catch someone lying, there are the consequences. If it is blatant then the applicant is automatically eliminated. Some mistakes, like dates of employment, can be entered in error, especially if the candidate has lost their resume. Typically this is not an elimination offense but we do carefully look at the circumstances and listen intently for the explanation.
Now, if the error is in quantifying the impact of an accomplishment, by enhancing the impact, for example, we really dig into that and the candidate can expect an increase in the number of probing questions. If this happens, we begin looking for inconsistencies or patterns of behavior.
The truth is most executive recruiters do not conduct in-depth interviews so for the unscrupulous executives, this is a sin that can go undetected as long as you don’t get carried away. The irony is that executives prone to exaggerate tend to get carried away.
Special Note: We urge our career transition clients to keep a journal to minimize errors with dates of employment and especially with the accuracy of their accomplishments. With the cloud, losing a resume is less likely today but people who have been out of the job market for a long time, and who have not kept their resume up to date, are more likely to stumble, usually an innocent mistake.)
Not telling the truth is a serious issue when it comes to evaluating a leader. We take this seriously, especially since we offer our clients a three-year placement guarantee.
So if you come to one of my interviews and you plan to exaggerate, you better be prepared. I do not gladly suffer fools or liars — since they are often one in the same.
© 2020 John Gregory Self