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Memo to job applicants

Don't lie on your CV. Really.

I'm hiring for interns again. One of the candidates who I was about to shortlist had put as their most recent employment that they had worked for a friend of mine. I checked out with my friend who said that the candidate had worked there only for a few days, not quite the six weeks of employment stated on the CV - which is otherwise quite impressive, but now I must distrust every other detail given. And I don't have time to check those details out, so into the bin it goes.

If you lie on your CV, you will get caught. And even if you get away with it this time, it will have a corrosive effect on your ethics. How many more times will you pad out a few details, just because it looks a little better than the truth? In the field where I work, it is a small world and we all know each other. And even if you work in a less focussed field than I do, as you get farther up the tree, your lies will come back to haunt you, until you fall spectacularly.

Just tell the truth. It's easier all round.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Good advice. I'm still trying to find work, and it is so very tempting to fluff a bit. In these difficult times, it's very difficult to find work, nay, impossible. It seems that employers are getting more and more particular about what they are looking for and job seekers are always left feeling that they don't quite reach the standards. So they feel forced to "pad."

Not trying to excuse such behavior, but having been job hunting for over a month now, I can certainly understand why job-seekers do it.
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
It does seem to be a vicious circle where the businesses lie about the requiremetns and the applican't lie about their experience to meet those requirements. It can be either brutal or amusing in the tech field where companies are asking for 7 years experience in technologies that are only 5 years old.

I also agree that lying on a resume is just asking for trouble, especially lying in a way that is easy to verify.
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
Well, it's a stupid employer who won't set out clearly and honestly what they actually need; how else are you going to hire the right people??? If your application is rejected by someone like that, I wouldn't worry - they'll be the first to go bust.
Oct. 13th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
You'd be amazed.... in many cases its the HR drones who do the filtering that are the problem. So for a senior coder that means 5-7 years experience in technology $FOO, where technology $FOO has only been around for 3 years.

The screaming frustration hits me when some HR drone says 'no' because I do not have say 10 years experience in using Acrobat Pro to build PDFs. Its a sodding PDF generator FFS with a very finite number of settings you can tweak to optimise things for different types of display/delivery. It should not be a barrier to getting your CV to someone who knows what they are talking about.
Oct. 14th, 2008 08:55 am (UTC)
That really is daft. For me as a manager, hiring is the single most difficult, and possibly also the single most important, thing that I do, and I hope I devote an appropriate amount of time and effort to it.

It is difficult, even emotionally draining, and I can well imagine that a lot of people especially, dare I say it, in the IT industry) prefer not to handle it themselves and enjoy being able to outsource it to human resources.

But there is no excuse for letting the HR people make up the job description in such a way that only people who lie about their experience can qualify. That again is a management failure.
Oct. 14th, 2008 09:20 am (UTC)
It's not that IT people necessarily want to outsource it, it's that the HR people will insist on it. That's the problem, and it's a big problem because the first level of filtering is often done in n near-complete ignorance of what the actual requirements are. The best candidates are frequently lost before interview.

HR as a whole has an extremely low reputation among IT people. In principle, companies with bad HR should go out of business as they get outcompeted, but when a problem is endemic, the differential disappears again.

(Also as may be seen from the credit crunch, catastrophically stupid policies can continue for years before it all goes wrong.)

Naturally, not all HR is as bad as is painted - some are very good. I do think at least some of the reputed agility of smaller companies is down to the way their HR people will actually know and consult with the people who need the new staff.
Oct. 14th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Its even worse than you think. First there's what bellinghman describes above. Also, applicants almost always have to apply through recruitment agents as most companies choose to do their recruitment this way. The agent is often a fresh graduate with no knowledge of the skills or technologies they are talking about. So you essentially have to sell yourself to a complete cretin who has no comprehension of what their client might actually be looking for, and then get past the HR barrier before your CV makes it onto the desk of a hiring manager who can actually decode the skills and experience on it. Madness.
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
I think it's down to how much of a lie it is. Everyone talks up what they did to make themselves sound better. If you're blatently lying on it, then you won't be able to support it when you're asked, and definately not if you manage to land the job, but talking up is still lying if you're being technical.

My dad used to do a lot of interviews and one of his criteria was misspellings. If things were misspelled, they were put to one side and only looked at if the rest of the applicants who took the time to look up the company name and how to spell it.
Oct. 14th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Resumes I receive where the applicant claims to have "excellent written and verbal skills" that are littered with grammatical or spelling errors go straight in the bin! If you can't even take the time to spellcheck your resume for goodness sake (or to get someone to proof read for you) then I don't have the time to be constantly checking your work.
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
I've got some time for applicants to fudge, but not applicants who out and out lie. several days vs. six weeks would seem to me a lie. An applicant puts down 8 months instead of 7 to avoid questions about a gap in employment, that I understand. And would tend not to grade down too hard. Although I might well ask them about it to see with how much grace they react to being caught out.

I do realize that it's a slippery slope-- but a lot for me depends on the perceived motivation.
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I've done things like leave off months and just list the years at a position, as much due to the gaps in my memory as the gaps in my employment, but I've never understood the need to lie on a CV or resume. There was someone I knew about ten years ago who did that as a matter of course, trusting that he was smart enough to learn the skillsets on the fly, but it's always seemed to me that your livelihood is not something to be trifled with. Even beyond the lack of professional ethics it takes to consider such a thing, I'd be in constant fear of being found out and losing my income.
Oct. 13th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
Doesn't even have to be a small or particularly focussed field - just ever so slightly specialist...

I've been to very few interviews over the last 15 years (but many before that!), but the chair of the first panel was the brother of the estate agent who'd sold us our house and had had several conversations about what we did for a living, what we'd earned, etc., while waiting for the people above us to drop out of the chain; the chair of another panel turned out to be one of my former college supervisors, and another member a local LD county councillor I'd met socially; and the chair of the board I passed last year turns out to have been another panellist on a Q&A session seven years before...

The world is surprisingly tiny and you have no idea how far other people's social and professional networks spread. I've had similar experiences receiving people's CVs and knowing that a particular department in the only other similar company in town didn't exist at the time someone claimed to have worked there, and so on; and if you're really unlucky and working through a reasonably organised HR department, this is noted on the database for the next attempt you make...
Oct. 13th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
Damn. Posted anonymously; that was me.
Oct. 14th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
Out of interest, will you tell the candidate in question why they did not get the job, and give them a few words of advice to that effect?

I've had two similar instances of that myself. One was a resume that came across my desk through an agency for someone I had previously sacked under a different role. By the time I got to calling back the agency it seems he had found out who the hiring manager was and withdrawn his application.
The other was a case of me filling in for a colleague on the day that a would-be employer rang for a reference, which was just lucky coincidence as they had listed my colleague as being their most recent manager when in fact it was me. I tried to be diplomatic, but I was also honest in saying what duties she had actually covered whilst in my employ, and why she had left the company, etc.
Oct. 14th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
Yes, I did phone up the candidate to ask point blank just how much they had worked at my friend's office; and immediately the dissembling started - er, wasn't full time but had been available on call; er, maybe not there for six weeks but certainly five, or maybe it was four. I explained that I was not interested in taking the conversation any further.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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