How IT Managers Find Talent and Avoid Resume Liars

When it comes to applying for jobs, many people are guilty of embellishing their resumes, but a new survey shows that information technology job seekers are especially likely to fluff up their skills. IT hiring managers reported catching more instances of lying than the national average (63 percent versus 58 percent) in a study from CareerBuilder and Harris Poll.   

Hiring ideal IT candidates is no easy task. In addition to the technical chops required to keep systems up, running and safe, IT candidates need customer service capabilities to interact with the employees who use their systems. There’s more to IT service and infrastructure than hitting the “install” button in the app store and rebooting an employee’s hard drive. 

So how do IT hiring managers evaluate candidates? The industry is always changing — and so are the credentials, says Nellis Freeman, West Coast regional information technology manager for McDermott Will & Emery, a Chicago-based international law firm. For instance, many companies have recently centralized their IT functions, because those teams can diagnose and address problems remotely. “A lot of times the responsibilities that they might have had five or six years ago have now been moved elsewhere,” Freeman says, adding that he looks for applicants who are flexible. “Part of the challenge is trying to keep their skill set relevant to the changing landscape on the technology side.”

Resume lying might not be intentional on the applicant’s part, Freeman says. “I think it’s more of what they have been exposed to at that particular time." He compares the situation to a non-technical person adding Microsoft Office to her resume. Sure, she’s a pro in Word, but maybe she’s just scratched the surface in Excel. Regardless, she’s probably going to add the full Office suite, not only Word, to her application. Compare that scenario to IT, where systems are much more complicated and have different versions.

For Freeman, it’s easy to spot a half-truth on a resume. “If someone tells me that they have been involved in a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7, I’m going to ask questions to dig a little bit deeper into what their knowledge and skill set might be,” Freeman says. It’s quickly apparent when candidates aren’t qualified.

Telling little white lies is a terrible way for job seekers to start a relationship in any industry. “If you want to enhance your resume, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in a press release. “Your resume doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”

Image via Can Stock