Lying On Your Resume

Ever lie to get a job? It happens. People stretch the truth in a tight labour market when competition is stiff. They also fib when competing for a plum position.

 Potential candidates may lie to get a job in a number of ways. They pad their resumes, attesting to abilities and experience they don’t have. People, sometimes desperate for a job, will fabricate education and credentials they don’t possess and haven’t earned. They may exaggerate in interviews, saying they can do tasks that they need more training to perform competently. Or, no matter what the interviewer asks them, they sound expert in that area.

 At times, potential candidates will hide information from employers like past criminal records or having been fired from the last position for a lack of honesty–either stealing or falsifying records. But, lying to get a job is ultimately a bad idea, as it can come back to haunt you.

 Employee’s damage their reputations when they over-promise and under-deliver. They may not make it through probation and won’t have a reference from the job they lied to get. Prospective new employers will inquire about the fact that the job lasted only a month, which can be hard to explain in an interview. And, employers will disqualify candidates who have lied during the application process.

 If the candidate lands the job, they are often tangled in an ongoing web of deceit. For example, one employee lied, saying he had the experience and ability to use a particular software program. When asked to use it to complete a task, he made excuses to hide his lack of knowledge. He told colleagues he was too busy, sick or unavailable and found creative ways to get others to that particular aspect of the job for him. Eventually, his co-workers realized he was not competent to do the task and confronted him.

 But, as horrible as the consequences of lying may be, the lure of a job can tempt prospective candidates enough, that they stretch the truth anyway. So what should you do if you are tempted to lie to get a job?

 Stick To The Truth
Decide not to lie. You probably won’t be able to figure it out on the job, learn as you go or learn from others. You’ll find your confidence is not as high as it needs to be while new at the job and this could hurt your chances of successfully passing through the probationary period. Take a hard look at the job posting. If the job requirements indicate a competency you don’t currently possess, get the training you need. If it’s experience, be willing to volunteer to land the career of your dreams.

 Highlight What You Can Do
While looking at the job posting, think about your experience and what the employer wants. For example, if it’s good communication skills, highlight both your verbal and writing skills by focusing on them in the description of what you did in your last job. You may write in your resume: “In my previous position, I was responsible for regularly communicating verbally with my supervisor, regarding the progress of a project. I provided written memos as well on a regular basis.”

 Put Your Best Foot Forward
Recognize that sometimes the issue isn’t about lying, but about how to present what you can do in the best light possible. Analyze the job posting for what the employer is wanting. Highlighting unpaid volunteer work can give the employer information about your willingness to learn and ability to work hard. If you don’t have a skill set listed by an employer, such as knowledge of the latest software, enroll in a course and indicate that you are enrolled in a program to add this skill to your repertoire.

 Interview Honestly
Use your experience to answer interview questions. Employers often use behavioural interviewing techniques. The interview panel may pose a question like: “When you encountered a disagreement at work with another employee, how did you handle it?” If you haven’t had a disagreement at work, say you haven’t encountered a situation like that, but if you did, you would handle this this way. If the interviewer asks you about something that didn’t go well, tell them that you gained a valuable learning experience when the incident occurred and tell them what you gained from the opportunity to learn.  There are ways employers detect dishonesty during the application process. Most make reference checks a habit and call the applicant’s references. Doing so, has helped employers avoid hiring unsuitable candidates and it is worth doing as a matter of course.  Along with thorough reference checks, employers will examine the credentials listed, look into claims of special awards and make it clear on application forms that misrepresentation on resumes, or in an interview, will disqualify a potential candidate automatically.

 Starting off on the right foot is key to being a success in your career and honesty, is always the best policy at work.

 Dr. Jennifer Newman is a registered psychologist. She can be reached at Identifying information in cases cited has been changed to protect confidentiality.

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