Blockchain May Kill the Resume as We Know It. Bring it on.

October 12, 2017

People lie on resumes.

It’s a sad but true fact: The Society for Human Resources Management estimates that as many as half of resumes contain at least one material misrepresentation. A survey from First Advantage, a background screening and analytics firm, found that one applicant in four is willing to lie on a resume in order to land a job. Resume fraud is even more frequent during economic downturns, when competition for jobs is especially keen.

Most employers report having caught applicants lying on resumes, with the financial services industry leading the way: 78 percent of hiring managers surveyed in the financial industry report having smoked out at least one resume liar.

In some states, like Texas, lying on a resume about an advanced degree for the purposes of obtaining employment constitutes a crime. 

Meanwhile, only about 30 percent of employers spend more than five minutes scrutinizing a resume and checking for discrepancies or other evidence of resume fraud.

But blockchain technology – the same technology currently driving innovations in cryptocurrencies, such as the pioneering Bitcoin – may eventually make it much more difficult or impossible for job applicants to lie directly on their resumes.

Here’s why:

Blockchain-based currencies work because blockchain itself is essentially a widely-distributed information verification system. The blockchain network of thousands and thousands of computers are able to verify that a given bitcoin (or other such cryptocurrency) exists, and that the person hoping to purchase goods and services actually owns that particular bitcoin. The distributed network tracks transactions via digital identification, so it knows precisely who owns that particular bitcoin, and transmits the information to every other blockchain server on the network.

Because the information is distributed so widely, it is impossible to destroy the information, and nearly impossible to counterfeit bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies known to the system not to exist. It’s also next to impossible (so far) to hack into so large a system.

Telltale signs of resume fraud

  • Vague, evasive, non-specific answers to specific questions about accomplishments.
  • Long gaps in the resume that are unaccounted for.
  • Absence of referrals.
  • Discrepancies between resume and LinkedIn and other social media accounts.
  • Listing a school with no degree or graduation information
  • Too many different technologies, programming languages or other skills listed for someone their age.

In a few years, innovations in blockchain technology will likely render the traditional resume as we know it obsolete. But in the meantime, protect yourself and your firm from resume fraud with these techniques:

  • Ask specific questions about accomplishments and positions claimed on the applicant’s resume.
  • Don’t just call the phone number on the resume to check a reference or employment date. He could have given you his girlfriend’s number. Look up the company yourself. Check out the reference’s LinkedIn profile or other online presence, if any. And call the reference at work, rather than on their personal cell. About 54 percent of employers check employee social media presence prior to hiring. You don’t want to be among the ones that don’t.
  • Check out the dates. If an applicant is just listing years, rather than months or days, they could be hiding a months-long jail sentence for a felony, for all you know.
  • Invest in a criminal background check before hiring.
  • Make any job offers to veterans contingent on successful verification of their military records. For the record, claims that a veteran’s service was so secret that the military destroyed all their records, or that their records were ‘destroyed in a fire,’ are lies.
  • Don’t rely on applicant-provided pay stubs. There are websites that sell custom pay stubs to anyone willing to buy them, and anyone with good Adobe Illustrator skills and a printer or scanner can easily generate one themselves.
  • The same goes for applicant-provided transcripts and diplomas. Always confirm directly with the granting institution.
  • Ensure that a degree or diploma-granting institution actually exists and is accredited, if possible.
  • Check out any skills claimed with specific questioning or via a test or practical exercise as part of the screening process. Skill sets are among the most frequently lied-about sections on the resume.