When I was a kid trying to pull the wool over my mother’s eyes, she would invariably fix me with a knowing eye and declare, “The truth always comes out in the end.” Indeed it did; my punishments befitted my fibs. Thankfully I learned a valuable life lesson, one that, unfortunately, went unlearned by many of my contemporaries. Politicians lying bald-faced to their constituents, corporate heads robbing their investors blind, and celebrities blatantly cheating on their significant others: all of these hypocrites and imposters visible to the public eye have sent society a message that it’s no great crime to cheat and that you can always lie your way out of a compromising situation. The trickle-down effect of this message has impacted employers and job seekers, both of whom lose when employees determine to lie on their resumes.
To job applicants facing the unemployment chasm, it can seem expedient and profitable to cover omissions and falsify information. The rationale is that if one appears better on paper (or more commonly, on an electronic resume), one will become more competitive as employers narrows their searches for the perfect candidates. Almost invariably, this ill-conceived strategy will backfire. 9/11 tightened industry’s purse strings and made employers more cautious; no one wanted to hire a terrorist or any other individual linked to criminal activity. As business dwindled, the job pool shrank, and the talent pool widened, recruiters sought to stem risk at every turn. The results of a survey conducted recently by Sure Payroll, an online payroll service, illustrates why. Forty-eight percent of the corporations polled reported that “bad hires” had cost them an average of $1,000; nine percent indicated that their related losses were in excess of $10,000.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 96% of all employers conduct background investigations on every individual who hopes to join their ranks. A simple Google search will uncover a vast amount of information, including social, political, and business-oriented Internet sites on which applicants not only post but may also be referenced via blogs or articles. Once a candidate finds himself in the running, he must provide the potential employer with his social security number, thus opening an avenue for a wealth of information, including past employers, dates of tenure, salaries. Thus, lies and half-truths are easily detected.
Nowadays, many employers run credit checks on prospective workers, information that discloses outstanding debit and payment histories with providers of products and services. If one has missed payments for whatever reason including, ironically, unemployment, the applicant stands in an unfavorable light, painted as irresponsible: a trait that no sane employer is willing to risk.
If your background contains a liability, how can you reduce your own risk? You can keep your information as truthful as possible. Even if you manage to fool your new boss initially, you will have to face the music if you lied about responsibilities that you never exercised. Narrow your research to those jobs for which your levels of skill and education are best suited. You stand a better chance of being hired and retained on the basis of the truth than you do for self-serving lies.
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