President,  Berman Larson Kane
President, Berman Larson Kane

Employers Check Backgrounds Closer

Job-seekers who seek positions with qualifications beyond their experience should think carefully before spicing up their résumé with an inflated salary and a more impressive job title. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, employers are increasingly checking applicants’ backgrounds with eagle eyes these days and don’t look kindly on candidates who falsify their credentials.

In fact, in a survey that the Society for Human Resource Management conducted of 2,500 of its members who are HR professionals, 96 percent said their companies always check references, credentials, or both.

“When you embellish it speaks to your integrity,” said Deidra Adams, principal human-resources consultant for Constellation Energy Group Inc., in Baltimore. She emphasized that when most companies discover an exaggeration, they simply don’t move forward with that candidacy.”, a South Burlington, Vt.-based service that advises job hunters on résumé writing, conducted a survey in 2005 of 1,133 résumés that had been uploaded to its Web site, which offers a free preliminary review. It found that 42.7 percent had at least one inaccuracy, and 12.6 percent had two or more factual errors.

The research team at also made calls to the educational and employment institutes listed on the résumés to verify three sections: dates of employment, job titles or roles, and education.

Some of the inaccuracies they found that related to employment dates were the result of a job seeker trying to cover up periods of unemployment, the article noted. But job candidates should realize that sometimes they are lying when they don’t have to. “Companies understand that being out of work can be normal,” said Michael Worthington, co-founder of

Embellishing a job title or educational qualifications are red flags for potential employers, too. “With education, they’re saying they have a degree but never actually finished the requirements,” Worthington said. “You should say how many credits you are into it.”

David Callahan, who wrote the book “The Cheating Culture,” said the “dog-eat-dog” mentality of American society is what can drive people to exaggerate credentials, the article pointed out. “People have always fudged their résumés. “That’s not a new phenomenon,” he added. “People are more anxious about the economy these days than they were in the ‘90s.”

Another way companies are probing backgrounds is to ask for the names of former supervisors or someone else who has done a performance review on the candidate – since they know chances are references are primarily going to say something good. And word of mouth can speak volumes. “Everyone knows someone,” Constellation Energy Group’s Adams said. “[Hiring managers] can get informal information about a candidate, and it’s easy to find someone who has knowledge of a person.”

Checking can be arduous, though. Large firms may outsource background checks to other companies, but in many smaller companies the burden rests on the organization. Elaine Hahn, president and chief investment officer of Hahn Capital Management in San Francisco, said it took her three-partner firm nine months to hire two analysts. “We don’t want to hire and fire people left and right because we are a small firm and the hiring process is long.

“We got hundreds of resumes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misstatements,” Hahn added. “Someone says they’re a senior research analyst, but they’re really an associate,” Once she or one of her partners found a discrepancy in a résumé, they took that candidate out of consideration.

News from BLK

Carol Shea, BLK Sr. I.T. Recruiter and Division Manager, will be featured in the Bergen Record in an article about the Career Resources Ministry she founded at her church. Conceived during the aftermath of 9/11 and the subsequent rise in unemployment, The Career Resources Ministry has assisted over 350 individuals in their quest for employment. BLK is very proud of Carol and the contribution she has made to the unemployed of Bergen County.

We at BLK are extremely pleased and honored to announce that we have been selected by NJBIZ as one of the top 50 Best Places to Work in New Jersey, and one of the top 25 medium-sized companies. A statewide awards dinner will be held in April where we will have the privilege of meeting representatives of other top employers.

On Tuesday evening, March 27th, MIS Network Associates (MNA), IT-Networking (IT NET), TENG, Monmouth Networking, and Careers In Transition (CIT) will host a combined Recruiter Night Out dinner meeting for members, alumni, friends and guests at the Ramada Inn, 375 Passaic St. in Rochelle Park, NJ.

The Recruiter Night Out will include a dialogue with a panel of four recruiters and will be moderated by Bob Larson, CPC, president of Berman Larson Kane. . Reservations may be made by contacting Lizanne Fiorentino at