A while ago Forbes released a list of the most memorable resume lies found in job applications. One candidate claimed to be an Olympic medalist. Another had twenty five years of experience, at the age of thirty two. A third was a former prime minister of a country without a prime minister function. That kind of imagination is seldom seen, but little white lies are more common.

Stockholm Chamber of Commerce conducted a study a couple of years ago, asking Swedish companies about their use of cv verifications. Almost sixty percent of the five hundred companies that were participating answered that they had experience of candidates who lied on their resumes. Sixty percent can sound alarming, but it’s important to remember that the larger part of all candidates are truthful.

The vast majority of all of the candidates ToFindOut screens have declared correct information in their cv’s. When abnormalities occur, they are almost always pretty harmless. For example, a candidate can sometimes lengthen the time of an employment to avoid having to explain a gap in their resume. To be clear, it is not usual to do a Macchiarini. One of the most common reasons for doing a background check is to create a calm feeling for the employer. It feels good to know that you didn’t miss the exception that proves the rule.

Almost a graduate

I clearly recall a case with a man who was working as a consultant at one of the largest consultancy agencies. The company, where he was working as a consultant, were so happy with his achievements that they wanted to recruit him for the role as IT Manager. A routine background check and cv verification was carried out. The results were unexpected. The degree he stated to have, from KTH in Stockholm, was in fact only a single semester.

It is not all that uncommon to lengthen the time spent studying, but it almost always happen in much smaller time spans. Most common is that the candidate “misses” to mention that he or she never graduated and still has some courses left. Sometimes the candidates fabriquates their entire history of studying, though.

This particular man never became IT Manager at the company and his consultancy contract was terminated. What happened next is yet to be known, but the Swedish Labor Court declares sentences from similar cases. Many of them are judged in benefit of the employer, where the resume lie has been assessed as a legitimate reason for dismissal.

Buying school certificates online

It might sound daring to fake a graduation, but it’s a lucrative industry. You might have heard about the Swedish website betygsakuten.se? Translated it means the grade emergency room. Since 2009 they are selling false school certificates at prices starting at 199 euros. I noticed that they are listed in the Cayman Island.

A cv should raise interest, let’s not detract from that. Maybe that’s the balance that creates difficulties for some people. It’s so easy to use a little, white lie to make the resume match that dreamy job ad better. The employer is responsible for checking the candidates background, even if it’s – of course – illegal to forge documents. Therefore, my strong opinion is that there is always better to prevent a problematic situation, by simply using cv verifications more.


Lars Blom, Business Area Manager, ToFindOut