On a call with a candidate I am told, “I was fired from my last job for lying on my resume. I put down that I had completed my degree when I was 6 credit hours short. They caught it 6 months after they hired me. Now what do I do?”
We catch liars on a regular basis. The most common lie is stretching a job’s hire or fire date so that there is less time between jobs. Some people make up a job and add it to the resume. Others remove a significant job that ended disastrously. Education is always a tempting place to lie. Certifications make a big difference in getting your resume past screeners, so some people lie.
So, how do we catch liars? Often they forget they lied to us in the past and they change their lies. We have resumes and interview notes from two decades ago in our files. When we compare them we find discrepancies. We also check references. When a person talking about you comes up with a different story, we do more research. Education and certifications are all very easy to check.
A lie is any communication given with intent to deceive. (unkn)
One other way liars are caught is by alternate references. We network into your old companies without telling you who we are calling. For instance, we had a candidate who said he interned with a firm that disappeared in the Enron scandals. That job rounded out his resume nicely. The only trouble is that the man who had been managing interns still works in this area. He knew the candidate never worked there. The job would have been his even without the intern experience. That lie lost him the job.
We don’t check alternate references to catch liars. We do it to get fresh information and to keep our networks alive. Right before writing this we checked an alternate reference from a job the person had 12 years ago. It was a great recommendation of that person. That is what we look for.
Do liars prosper? Sure, at times. For a while. But something happens to them. Liars we catch usually tell us, “Everyone lies. I just got caught.” Over time they lose the ability to really trust others. They lose the ability to feel when others are honest or deceptive. In business that will eventually be fatal. Business really is built on trust. Contracts are merely to put in writing what each side already trusts the other to do.
Something To Do Today
Do you need to correct your resume? Then do it. Send the new one to recruiters along with a note that the last one was incorrect. Most people are willing to let you correct a mistake, even if it was a lie.
If you have been hired based on a lie you may want to correct it now, before you get a promotion that has an automatic background check. You can submit a corrected resume or ask your boss for help to get that certification you really don’t have. Sure, you might get fired. What is peace of mind worth to you?
Coming up: Poisons
How to work a convention
What to leave out