What leads to resume fraud? Researchers cite 'job search envy'

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A new study of people looking for work finds they are more likely to resort to resume fraud when they're envious of their neighbor's job search.

The researchers – including Professor Michelle Duffy of the U of M's Carlson School of Management– found that envy can sometimes spur people toward intensifying their job search. But in many cases it leads instead to stretching the truth with resume embellishment.

The survey of 335 unemployed job seekers found that when they compared their search efforts to their peers, they became more likely to falsify their own credentials.

The study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that in long-lasting job searches envy is more likely to produce resume fraud, while in shorter searches the chances that it will lead to greater effort are better.

Co-author Brian Dineen of Purdue University says one surprising finding was that envious job seekers were more likely to engage in fraud when job markets are strong.

Types and costs of resume fraud

Experts say there are three main categories of resume fraud:

  • Fabrication, by intentionally including false information about one's work history
  • Embellishment, by overstating accurate information
  • Omission, by leaving out important information

Business.com says online services with names like FakeResume and CareerExcuse have contributed to the fraud – and profited from it.

UndercoverRecruiter says the cost of such fraud to employers has been estimated at $600 million per year. That site and Entrepreneur.com offer some tips for companies to use to protect themselves.

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