Lying to Get a Job
If you believe that the vast majority of people are basically honest, get ready to have your world rocked. Recent research shows that more than a third of all job seekers misrepresent themselves on their resumes, think lying is a great way to get a job, and naively believe that there is no way for interviewers to find out the truth.
The research, commissioned by TalentWise, a hiring process management solutions provider, and conducted by Harris Interactive, had the goal of finding out just how honest job candidates are when they compose their resumes. Their findings are chilling. According to the respondents, job seekers routinely believe there is nothing particularly wrong with misrepresenting something on a resume, and they often go as far as making up facts entirely. A few respondents even admitted to pollsters that they themselves had included untrue information in a resume.
"I think there are mainly two reasons people misrepresent themselves on their resumes," says Bill Glenn, vice president of Marketing and Alliances at TalentWise. "One is the general nature of the economy and the desperation of the job seekers. The other is that they inadvertently misrepresent themselves."
Glenn gave an example of an inadvertent misrepresentation on his own resume. While he finished class work for his college degree in March, he didn't walk for graduation until June. At one point, his resume stated that he'd finished his degree in March, while the university records showed it happened in June.
Here are some of the dirty little secrets the research revealed:
- More than a third of respondents believed that misrepresenting information on a resume can be extremely beneficial for a job seeker and can actually get you the job.
- A third believe there is no way for a potential employer to verify most things on a resume.
- Among those actively looking for jobs, males were more likely to believe it's OK to misrepresent yourself on a resume (33 percent) than females (27 percent).
- Young people, who comprise the great bulk of those seeking work, are nearly 40 percent more likely to condone resume falsification than older candidates.
At the risk of sounding ancient ("Kids! What's the matter with kids today?"). Glenn had no explanation for those figures, but he did offer some information in the defense of youth. He said that job seekers 18 to 34 were more likely than their older compatriots to pay to have their resumes pre-screened and pre-verified, so potential employers would be certain to know that members of this group are likely not among the one-third that are probably lying.
And of course, there is at least one service that will vet your resume and give you a badge of certification that you can post on your LinkedIn profile or anywhere else your resume might be posted. TalentShield will do this for you (with its entry level service free for a limited time, and more inclusive packages going for $29.95 and $49.95). They'll even provide you with a QR code, so that you can send your resume verification to the smartphone of anyone you meet on the street or at a job fair.
So, for the third of you who are inclined to lie on your resumes, you'd better hope that prospective employers find out before they hire you, so that they can merely discard your resume. But there's also the chance that they just might happen to be chatting one day with a colleague who is also considering hiring you, and they could spread the dirty word. Don't laugh. It's small world, especially in your field, whatever it may be.
If, however, your employers somehow find out you lied on your resume after you've been hired, you could be in for a world of pain and (deserved) humiliation. If you're lucky, they'll allow you to resign, not wanting the whole world to know that they were so easily deceived. If you're not so lucky, you will be publicly disgraced; they'll alert the media, and you'll never work in this, or any other town, again. It's so much better to be absolutely certain that you're telling the truth from the very start. If there's any doubt, you can get it professionally verified.
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Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.