Applying for a Job: Don’t Lie to Me

It’s not surprising to hear about job applicants deliberately writing down wrong information in CVs or resumes — couple of cases have been referred by corporate retainer clients involving application details that were later discovered as serious “errors.” What’s surprising is the fact that prospective employees still take the risk of peddling lies in job applications.

The most common lie in CVs, according to a recent Forbes article (Most Employers Have Caught A Resume Lie–Here Are Some Of The Worst), are amplified skill sets and responsibilities, “but many applicants go so far as to fudge job titles, dates of employment, and companies worked for.” What’s the problem with lies in job applications?

HR practitioners will say that dishonesty, including lying in CVs or resumes, is a negative trait that heavily weighs against the decision to hire a job applicant (with some exceptions, perhaps like The Wolf of Wall Street?). Competence is only one of the important criteria during applicant screening. Labor lawyers (just to avoid any confusion, I’m referring to counsels specializing in labor law, not those who are about to give birth), on the other hand, will say that dishonesty can get employees fired.

The more interesting HR cases referred to us involve “serious errors” in CVs or resumes discovered AFTER the employee was hired. In one referral, we rendered an opinion that the CV error is not sufficient to justify a dismissal of the employee involved. In at least one other case, our legal opinion was that the employee’s past misrepresentation in the job application was material and serious enough to justify the employee’s termination from work. The moral of the story? Put the best foot forward, but don’t lie.

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