Resume fabrication on the rise in IT

If you’re thinking about fudging your job history to get that coveted IT position, you might want to think again. Because with the current IT job pool overflowing with candidates, employers can afford to be picky and they’re taking the time to check the fine print on resumes before making

a hiring decision.

In some cases, employers are finding job candidates who are willing to go extraordinary lengths to secure a position. In roughly one-quarter of the resumes sent to a large Canadian outsourcing company, candidates have either lied about their experience or have exaggerated their accomplishments.

“That’s probably the norm, but we tend to find this out in the earlier stages of our recruiting process,” says Alex Cocq, a recruitment manager at Accenture Canada, which hires upwards of 350 IT positions a year.

Accenture’s findings are in line with a much larger study, which was conducted earlier this year by Christian & Timbers, a global executive search firm with an office in Toronto. Its study shows that almost one-quarter of IT executives misrepresent their accomplishments. Most popular on the list of resume fabrications is misinformation about the number of years in a job, which occurred in almost three-quarters of the 7,000 resumes Christian & Timbers studied. Other misleading information includes exaggerating responsibilities, inflating compensation and omitting jobs altogether.

“Employers should pay close attention to what executives are saying about their experiences during the past two years,” says Jeffrey Christian, CEO of Christian and Timbers.

How can employers spot red flags? Look for a lack of continuity and gaps in information, says Julie Leeder, an IT recruiter with McKinnon Management Group Inc. in Toronto.

I’ve been in the business for more than three years and I’d say most people are fairly honest, but sometimes they fib about accomplishments,” Leeder says. “But if there’s a gap such as someone being promoted from an assistant’s position to a director, how did that happen?”

At Accenture, every resume is scrutinized, by the recruiting team, the hiring division and a seasoned panel of senior executives who know IT inside out.

“We know when the facts don’t add up,” says Cocq. “For example, if someone says they’re a senior systems architect and have become that within the space of two or three years, we know it’s probably not true because that’s something that typically occurs between five and eight years on a job.”

Cocq says many companies come up short in the skills assessment portion of an interview. If a candidate is applying to Accenture for a position as an SAP consultant, there are various hoops he or she will have to jump through before getting a job offer.

“First we look at their SAP training,” explains Cocq, “If they’re claiming they have SAP experience, but don’t have any formal training, that’s a flag.

“After that, they have an interview with senior executives who are well-versed in a particular area of SAP. They’re asked to go through a situation where they have had to configure a complex SAP module and the interviewer is armed with questions about such a configuration.”

How should candidates handle a situation where they’ve been out of work for a time? Experts advise exercising honesty.

“Be forthright, especially in the Toronto business community which is so small,” says Leeder. “If you misrepresent the facts, it will come out over coffee at some point.”

Employers also want to see that candidates have been using their time productively.

“We like to hear that candidates have been actively learning in their off time,” says Cocq. “If you belong to a professional association, volunteer at that organization. If you can upgrade your skills, take a course.”

Current hot jobs are junior and senior level consulting assignment in the various enterprise software packages, including SAP, Peoplesoft and Siebel.

“Despite a surfeit of IT workers in the market, these skills are still hard to find,” says Cocq.

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