You Lie, You Pay. Don’t Fudge your Resume!
January 28, 2010
I really didn’t mean for this title to rhyme, sorry! Two great articles caught my attention this morning on resume lies! One will really make job seekers sweat because in the end the employee had to pay wages back to his employer. The other captures the essence of one of my favorite books; Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt. The themes in both are the same, a lot of people lie on their resumes, many get caught and the penalty could be huge. Here is a wake-up call folks, a thorough background check is going to be done and your misdeeds will be uncovered!
First we have a “Doctor” who misrepresented himself to have not only a PhD but also a BSc and MSc. Are you kidding me? Didn’t he read our white paper on diploma mills and resume lies? Insead of lying at least he could have done a better job and bought a fake degree on the internet!!
“Doctor” Richard Clark applied to join Coopers Lybrand’s consulting practice in Ottawa to head its management section. Coopers required professionals to have university degrees. In a resume provided to the firm and later sent out to potential clients, Clark purported to hold a BSc, MSc and PhD.
Two years later, Coopers Lybrand learned he held none of these degrees and immediately fired him. He sued for wrongful dismissal. Not only did he lose the case, which proceeded to the Ontario Court of Appeal, but he had to reimburse the firm $47,000 for lost work when clients discovered Clark was not who he said he was.
The second story kicks off with another war story. Again, her employer began to do a bit of due-diligence and found out she had lied on her resume.
When a woman we’ll call Mary was offered a high-level student-services position at a prestigious college, she was thrilled to accept. But two years later, Mary was fired despite strong performance reviews and a reputation as a rising star at the college. The reason? She lied on her resume – and got caught.
An HR initiative requiring employees to furnish college transcripts revealed Mary lied about having a master’s degree. It wasn’t the lack of a degree that cost Mary her job; it was her dishonesty. Unemployed and with a blown reference to boot, Mary demonstrates what can happen when you lie on your resume.
In this article they use a lot of refernces to the book Freakonomics. In it Levitt talks about how widespread resume lies are. Levitt also refers to the W.C. Fields quote “Anything worth winning is worth cheating for.”
His examples and correlations couldn’t be more accurate. In fact, as you will see below, his hypothesis on how many people lie is pretty accurate. Maybe Steven Levitt has read our various studies on how many people lie on their resumes!
“The best lies will be those that mirror reality,” Levitt says. “My hunch is that the reputed 50 percent of resume cheaters are mostly making little cheats here and there, for instance, to cover up times when they were out of the labor force for six months.”
Perhaps viewing these mistruths as harmless white lies or marketing spin, people who lie on a resume may end up doing more damage – to themselves and others – than they realize.
“When someone else cheats, it hurts the honest people,” Levitt says. Honest job seekers can be edged out of competition by individuals who give themselves an unfair advantage by fabricating or exaggerating credentials.
And what about the damage cheaters do to themselves? “Even if you are never caught, you will have to live in constant fear that someday you will be caught and punished and with the guilt of knowing what you did was wrong,” Levitt warns.
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