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Assessing Intentional Resume Deception: Development and Nomological Network of a Resume Fraud Measure

Abstract

Resume fraud is pervasive and has detrimental consequences, but researchers lack a way to study it. We develop and validate a measure for empirically investigating resume misrepresentations purposely designed to mislead recruiters. In study 1, an initial set of items designed to measure three theorized resume fraud dimensions (fabrication, embellishment, omission) are rated for content validity. In study 2, job seekers complete the measure and its factor structure is evaluated. In study 3, another sample of job seekers is surveyed to verify the measure’s factor structure and to provide evidence regarding construct validity. In study 4, working adults who recently conducted a job search are surveyed to determine which individuals are more likely to commit resume fraud and whether resume fraud relates to critical work behaviors. We confirm the three-factor structure of our measure and offer evidence of construct validity by showing that socially desirable responding, Machiavellianism, moral identity, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and agreeableness are related to resume fraud. Additionally, we find that resume fraud predicts reduced job performance and increased workplace deviance beyond deceptive interviewing behavior. Resume fraud is rarely studied despite the negative impact it can have on job-related outcomes. Researchers can use this measure to explore further the antecedents and outcomes of resume fraud and to advise recruiters on how to minimize it. We develop a measure focusing on intentional resume misrepresentations designed to deceive recruiters. This is one of the first studies to examine the antecedents and outcomes of resume fraud.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although recommended by factor analysis experts (e.g., MacCallum et al., 1999; Velicer & Fava, 1998), we note that our strict item inclusion criteria might have led to some construct deficiency in exchange for desired internal consistency and parsimony. As a result, we reexamined the items from study 2 using less stringent standards (.50 for communalities and .70 for factor loadings) and found that the revised standards added 9 items (3 fabrication and 6 embellishment) to our original 11 (see Appendix for the additional items). Thus, we retained the full set of study 2 items in study 3 to test both models.

  2. 2.

    We combined the fabrication and embellishment items into a general measure of resume fraud in this study because our model did not predict any differential effects across these two dimensions.

  3. 3.

    As indicated in footnote 1, we also included the nine items retained when using less stringent item inclusion criteria for comparison purposes to the original version.

  4. 4.

    The fit indices for the longer version from study 2 approached acceptable levels (χ2 = 360.02 (167), χ2/df = 2.16, CFI = .94, TLI = .92, RMSEA = .08) but were inferior to indices for the original version (χ2 = 79.18 (41), χ2/df = 1.93, CFI = .98, TLI = .97, RMSEA = .07). Given these results, we believe the original version is superior, but recognize the longer version may still be a viable option. We retested our hypotheses and all the conclusions remained the same using the longer version. We continue with the original version because of its superior fit to the data, but in the Appendix, we italicize the additional items so that researchers can use whichever version best suits their needs.

  5. 5.

    Although not shown in Table 6, further analyses indicated that IFB did not explain significant incremental variance in any work behavior beyond resume fraud. Furthermore, all resume fraud dimensions that were significant remained significant when controlling for individual differences including SDR, Machiavellianism, moral identity, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and agreeableness. These results are available from the first author on request.

  6. 6.

    Study 3: measured cause model: χ2 = 757.33 (491), χ2/df = 1.54, CFI = .91, TLI = .89, RMSEA = .06 and original model: χ2 = 357.64 (174), χ2/df = 2.06, CFI = .93, TLI = .92, RMSEA = .08; χ2difference = 919.84, dfdifference = 437, p < .001. Study 4: measured cause model: χ2 = 2157.39 (856), χ2/df = 2.52, CFI = .86, TLI = .84, RMSEA = .08 and original model: χ2 = 1237.55 (419), χ2/df = 2.95, CFI = .90, TLI = .89, RMSEA = .09; χ2difference = 399.69, dfdifference = 317, p < .01.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Dan Ganster and Ray Hogler for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper, Jacquelyn Thompson for her editorial assistance, and Victoria Mattingly for her help with data collection.

Funding

A grant from the SHRM Foundation provided funding for this project.

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Correspondence to Christine A. Henle.

Appendix

Appendix

Resume Fraud Items

Recent reports have documented the prevalence of inaccurate information on resumes. For example, job seekers might list a college degree they never earned, leave off a job from which they were fired, exaggerate the importance of their job duties, or make up dates of employment to hide gaps. Keeping in mind that all of your responses are anonymous, in your most recent or current job search, to what degree did you intentionally do the following to increase your chances of receiving an interview? Please respond using the below response scale. Although some questions may seem repetitive, please answer as best as you can.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Not at all To hardly any extent To a little extent To a moderate extent To a considerable extent To a very great extent Completely
  1. Regarding your resume, during your current or most recent job search, rate the extent to which you have intentionally:
  2. Fabrication
  3. FAB1: Included information that is no longer true
  4. FAB2: Invented accomplishments that did not really occur
  5. FAB3: Provided incorrect information
  6. FAB4: Claimed to have skills that you do not have
  7. FAB5: Misrepresented the description of an event
  8. FAB6: Listed knowledge or skills you do not possess
  9. FAB7: Invented some work situations or accomplishments that did not really occur
  10. FAB8: Made up information regarding the quality or quantity of your performance
  11. FAB9: Made up information related to your past or current employment
  12. FAB10: Claimed work experience that you do not actually have
  13. FAB11: Made claims that were false
  14. FAB12: Invented degrees you do not have
  15. FAB13: Included information that is fabricated
  16. FAB14: Made up information regarding your involvement in job-related or extracurricular activities
  17. FAB15: Made up information related to your academic record
  18. FAB16: Provided information about references that is not true
  19. FAB17: Made up information on your resume
  20. Embellishment
  21. EMB1: Inflated the importance of activities or awards
  22. EMB2: Distorted your qualifications to match qualifications required for the job
  23. EMB3: Overstated your involvement in activities
  24. EMB4: Exaggerated the impact of your performance in your past jobs or your current one
  25. EMB5: Overstated information related to your academic record
  26. EMB6: Provided an enhanced picture of your past or current record
  27. EMB7: Made exaggerated claims
  28. EMB8: Overstated information
  29. EMB9: “Padded” your resume
  30. EMB10: Included information that is not exactly true
  31. EMB11: Stretched the truth regarding information on your resume
  32. EMB12: Exaggerated your responsibilities on previous jobs or your current one
  33. EMB13: Embellished information
  34. EMB14: Tried to make yourself appear as an ideal candidate when you were not
  35. EMB15: Made the information on your resume sound better than it really is
  36. EMB16: Included things that were exaggerated
  37. EMB17: Described team accomplishments as primarily your own
  38. Omission
  39. OMI1: Failed to mention relevant things from your past or current record
  40. OMI2: Omitted information about your involvement in certain job-related or extracurricular activities
  41. OMI3: Deleted information in order to help your chances of getting an interview
  42. OMI4: Omitted important information about past or current job responsibilities
  43. OMI5: Omitted information that doesn’t portray you in a favorable manner
  44. OMI6: Suppressed information that may not look favorable
  45. OMI7: Left relevant information off
  46. OMI8: Failed to include information that is less than positive
  47. OMI9: Kept information vague so it could not be easily verified
  48. OMI10: Omitted pertinent details about your past or current record
  49. OMI11: Omitted relevant information related to your academic record
  50. OMI12: Left information off that might hurt your chances of getting a job
  51. OMI13: Tried to suppress your connection to negative events in your work history
  52. Note. Items in bold are those included in the final versions of the scales. Items in italics could be added in longer versions of the scales.

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Henle, C.A., Dineen, B.R. & Duffy, M.K. Assessing Intentional Resume Deception: Development and Nomological Network of a Resume Fraud Measure. J Bus Psychol 34, 87–106 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-017-9527-4

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Keywords

  • Scale development
  • Resume fraud
  • Job search
  • Lying