The world of social media has created a new kind of problem for recruiters: Every one is out there actively trying to make themselves look good, and it’s easier than ever to do that now. In addition to the typical acts of embellishments, exaggeration, and resume padding, the rise of websites like and have introduced an entirely new level of lying to the mix: totally falsified resumes and references.

As a recruiter, you now have work even harder to get past all the fluff – and falsehoods – of a candidate’s resume in order to figure out which candidates really have the skills, characteristics, and abilities you need.

These tips can help you do just that:

1. Always Carry Out Background Checks

In today’s harried, fast-paced workplace, it’s easy to give into the temptation to skip this step – especially if you’re rushing to fill a vacancy and a seemingly perfect candidate has appeared.

However, a standard background check is a vital part of the process. Look for confirmation of a candidate’s work history and dates of employment. Pay extra close attention to any discrepancies that may arise between the candidate’s resume and what references say. These may be clues that something is not right.

2. Learn the Red Flags

In some cases, gaps in employment or bouts of self-employment have rational, perfectly legitimate explanations. In other cases, however, these seemingly innocuous things may reveal critical information about a candidate’s professional background. If a candidate is unwilling – or unable – to clearly explain their reasons for leaving a job or seems reluctant to share references, then the candidate is displaying some serious red flags. You have been warned!

The quickest way to get past this kind of uncertainty? Make reference checks a non-negotiable part of your hiring process. Remember that company websites and contact information can be easily fabricated in today’s digital age. Verify everything. If something doesn’t seem right, that’s probably because it isn’t.

3. Leverage Social Media

LaptopA candidate’s social networking presence can help you verify basic resume information, including education credentials and work experience. It’s even better when candidates who have their privacy settings set to “public,” because this will give you a solid glimpse at who the candidate really is underneath their resume. They may reveal more about themselves than they even realize, so keep your eyes peeled!

Always take a moment to check each candidate’s social media profiles before moving forward with them. This will give you a better sense of who the candidate is as a person and a potential employee.

4. Put Candidates to the Test

Anyone can read a job description and then pepper their resume with the right keywords – but not everyone has the skills needed to back up these keywords in real life.

Give applicants the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the real world by testing them during the interview. Give them mock assignments to test their hard skills, and use targeted questions to assess their soft skills, like communication, teamwork, and empathy.

5. Keep an Open Mind

Bias is an unfortunate part of the hiring process – and often, we don’t even realize when we are being biased!

When evaluating candidates, it’s essential to keep an open mind. Honest mistakes do occur from time to time, so if there’s something suspicious about a candidate’s resume or references, give the candidate a chance to explain.

That being said, keeping an open mind doesn’t mean ignoring your own common sense, intuition, and experience. If something seems “off” or incorrect, follow up.


Accepting a candidate’s resume at face value comes with serious risks that can compromise both your business and your bottom line. These simple techniques can help you delve beneath the surface to get a more accurate understanding of a candidate’s true skills, personality, and work history.

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