I have interviewed and reviewed countless applications in my career, and I am constantly amazed at how many candidates lie (or withhold the truth, same thing) when applying for a job.
What most people still don’t realize? We live in the information era, and recruiters can access any piece of information online… and every lie, big or small, will eventually catch up with you.
Below are the 5 most common ways I see applicants trying to hide or alter the truth:
1. Hiding a Gap in Employment
This is something I see all the time: an attempt to hide a gap in employment by leaving the months off the date line on your resume. And it always creates a red flag for the person reading your resume.
Recruiters know: if you put “2012 – 2013” on your resume, it can mean either 1 month of employment, or 2 years. A gap in your career history won’t automatically get your application thrown out, but you will need to explain that gap. Was it because you were in the midst of a long-term job search? A gap year? Jail? Was it because you volunteered your time in on a mission trip in Africa? To eliminate risk, we need to know.
And to find out, the recruiter/employer can check the dates of your previous employers, and they will find out about any gaps. It is best to include the months on all date lines on your resume, and then explain why you have a gap in service. Address any concerns of the employer right up front!
2. Failing to Disclose Why You Left a Previous Employer
This is a sensitive subject for many job seekers. How do you explain to a new employer that you left, perhaps under not-so-great circumstances? Should you disclose why you were part of the 10 percent that was laid off? Or why you were fired?
When a new employer is checking your employment history, in most cases your previous employer is only allowed to disclose your dates of your employment and if you are re-hirable. If the answer to the re-hirable question is no, then you will need to explain why.
In a case such as this, it is best to follow up this explanation with what you learned from the situation and how you have grown from the experience. It is also important to remember: it’s a small world, and you never know who may know you at the new employer, or how fast a “story” about how you left your last employer can come back to haunt you.
3. Covering Up Information Obtained on Background and Drug Checks
You will get asked: “Can you pass a background/drug test?” If you answer “yes” knowing you are not able to, then you are lying and it will automatically get your application thrown out. If you are looking to burn bridges, this is the fastest way to accomplish that.
Employers spend good money on these screens, and it is very important to disclose information up front. Every employer is different, and you may not automatically be disqualified because of a ding on your background or a failed drug test in the past. If in doubt, tackle the situation head on, and ask the employer about their policies.
4. Providing a Friend as a Manager or Professional Reference
Again: we live in an age where any information we want, we can find through many different sources. LinkedIn and other social networking sites will quickly unveil this mis-truth.
Do not list your best friend, sister, step-mother or spouse a reference. We’ll know.
5. Exaggerating Skills
Never live by the mantra: “just as long as I get the job I can learn or prove anything.”
If you state on your resume, or in an interview, that you have done something in the past, it we will expect you to do that work, from day one. If you do not have experience in a required area, explain, and give examples, of how you plan to pick up this new skill to make you successful in your position. That is a much better alternative than getting fired for mis-stating your qualifications, getting fired, and losing professional credibility.
Considering a lie during the job search process? Don’t. Instead, think of how much better you will feel when you get a great job, and you never have to look over your shoulder because of information you were hiding. Or tried to hide.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at BullsEye Recruiting!
About the Author: Ryan Harding gained his Bachelors in Business from The University of Arizona and quickly found his passion for Talent Acquisition. The first part of his recruiting career was spent working with Sapphire Technologies, with a focus on information technology professionals. He then made his way into corporate recruiting with Intuit, and has made a name for himself finding top talent in Technology, Marketing, and sales for a top Silicon Valley tech company. Talent acquisition is not just a job to Ryan, but a passion. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family, volunteering with his church, watching sports, and golfing.