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Help Wanted: Recruiters Beware

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Dr. James P. Smith

Some job applicants apparently feel inadequate about their employment qualifications -- to the point of lying on resumes and applications.

The employment firm has a questionnaire on its Web site that asks about lying. Of 400 respondents, 20 to 30 percent admitted inflating their salary, exaggerating job skills or lying about work experience. And 27 percent said they would lie again if they thought it would advance their position.

Human resource managers at high-tech industries generally do not consider lying about education a major problem. David Ames, a manager at Stanford Research Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif., said, "SRS is an engineering company, and, with few exceptions, members of the management team are engineers or physicists. In a technical field, it's pretty hard to lie about something, because managers know right away if an interviewee is lying about qualifications."

A recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management revealed that more than half of all employers have discovered outright lies while verifying information on job applications. The most common lies involve previous salaries, the length of time working for previous employers and any criminal record. More than 30 percent of employers reported discovering phony job titles, bogus company names and fake driving records.

Ken Johnson, vice president of human resources at Spectra-Physics Lasers in Mountain View, Calif., said, "In technical fields, we have little problem with lying about education because applicants' knowledge is critical, and they know we will check every detail." Johnson said he does not doubt the surveys, however. "I wouldn't think high-tech industries have any less of a problem here. We exercise due diligence in checking our applicants, and we use the same procedures for persons seeking both technical and nontechnical positions."

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1999
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