Almost all of us lie, fib, or stretch the truth a bit. We do this to our superior ("Great joke, boss!"), significant other ("I would love to go out to your parents’ place this weekend"), or just strangers on the street ("Sorry, I am not carrying any cash").

Of course, you can get into more trouble if you tell a lie to 8 million people at one time. NBC news anchor Brian Williams learned this the hard way. He embellished a story and stated his helicopter was hit by rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire when he was covering the Iraq war. In fact, it was another helicopter that was fired at, and that occurred about an hour before the helicopter Williams was on reached the area. I am not sure how one can confuse whether or not the helicopter he or she was in was shot at or not, but Williams apologized for the error and has been suspended for six months.

But, sometimes, it’s easy to tell people what they want to hear to inflate their opinion of you. It happens on résumés all the time. Perhaps some of your employees or job applicants have lied to you.

The Society of Human Resource Managers recently released a survey that reported 53 percent of résumés and job applications contained false information. This could be anything from a fraudulent degree to inflated salary claims. The good part for HVAC contractors is we are living in a time where it is much easier to verify applicant claims.

Before the Internet allowed business owners to find out a plethora of information on any individual, the hiring organization’s hands were tied. Sure, they could check on references, but only a moron would put a reference down that would prevent them from getting a job. And, save the letters, I realize there are a lot of morons out there.

Social media is a great way to get the true scoop on an applicant. Cross check the résumé with the prospect’s Facebook account and you might find some discrepancies. And make sure you Google the businesses on the résumé. The next time won’t be the first time somebody makes up a fictitious company to build up work experience.

And, while online fact checking is great, sometimes a face-to-face conversation is all that is needed for the truth to rear its ugly head. The more specific the questions you ask, the better. Focus in on timelines, how the company was structured, and what role they played on the team, etc. Even George Costanza could only keep up the charade for so long.

There is also always the eyeball test. A lack of eye contact and being fidgety in the seat can also mean the person is lying.

And, of course, you can always pay for the good, old background check. Like anything these days, use technology and all the resources at your disposal. Doing some more legwork on the front end can make your life a lot easier on the back end.

One final way to cover your bases is to be sure every applicant fills out the entire official application form. Many hiring managers make the mistake of accepting the resume and not having the job seeker fill out the work history on the application form. The information on that resume may not be legally binding because the applicant does not sign that document. Making sure they fill out the form and sign it will help you out if it ever ends up in a court of law.

Publication date: 2/16/2015

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