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What Happens When You Tell Lies to Gain a Competitive Advantage?

We are living in uncertainty times and no one knows what the new normal is going to look like after this pandemic. No where is there more angst than in the job market. Many people have been laid-off or furloughed, and some of those who are still employed are nervous about their future. And with the unemployment rate at an all-time high, it is tempting to fudge credentials when applying for jobs. BUT, lying on your resume can hurt your professional reputation.

In a blog post titled Resume Fraud and the Law, the writer from Zelikman Law, states, “It is not uncommon to embellish one’s credentials in the course of an interview or through a resume in order to “get one’s foot in the door.” To a certain degree, most people are guilty of some form of self-aggrandizement when employment is within reach.” 

It has become a common practice over the years for some job seekers to do exactly that – deliberately lie on their resume – and it runs the gamut from entry level candidates to executives.

Some of these individuals have been caught fabricating their accomplishments and churning out information that is incorrect. Some have been rewarded with job opportunities by misrepresenting facts. A former Blue Jays manager also lied on his resume and had to resign. Here’s a list of more recent ones:

A former deputy assistant secretary in the US State Department had to resign from her job for allegedly lying on her resume. It appears she had built a career out of faking her accomplishments and inflating her educational achievements. She even created a fake Times Magazine cover. Why would she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

A former admissions director at MIT was forced to resign after 28 years because it was discovered she lied on her resume when she applied for the job.  She claimed she had had three degrees when she only had one. Why did she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

An article by Business Insider lists several successful executives who also lied on their resumes. It includes the former CEO of Yahoo, Herbalife, MGM Mirage, Bausch & Lamb, and others. Why did these CEOs do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

In some countries you can get jail time for lying on your resume.

One Australian woman pretended to be actress Kate Upton, and got a government job as Chief Information Officer (CIO). She is serving a 25-month sentence in jail for this act. Why did she do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

Back in 2002, the former CEO of a television station in New Zealand, Canadian John Davy, was sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to one charge of using a document — his resume — “to obtain a benefit or privilege”. He stated he had an MBA from Denver State University, but the degree was a counterfeit credential sold online. He said he had worked with the BC Securities Commission in Canada. That wasn’t true either. The Commission didn’t have any record of him working there. Why did he do that? To gain a competitive advantage!

HireRight’s 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark reported 87% of survey respondents believe that some percentage of candidates misrepresent themselves on applications and or resumes.

The Georgetown Professor Who Falsely Claimed She was Black

The biggest lie of them all is what Jessica Krug did. For years she pretended to be Black when she knew otherwise. She also created a new identity as Jess La Bombalera an AfroLatina activist from the Bronx. The twist here is that Jessica Krug aka Jess La Bombalera is an associate professor at Georgetown University.

In Krug’s own words on Medium, “To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness. I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring. People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love.”

Krug, as mentioned above, is a Professor at George Washington University where she has taught African history and African diaspora courses since 2012. Her book, Fugitive Modernities, about slavery, was published in 2018 by Duke University Press, and was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize, named after two Black American icons.

Why do people lie on their resumes and embellish their credentials? To gain a competitive advantage! But what would drive someone to pass herself off as Black and assume an added identity, as an Afro Latina? She has said it’s because of mental health issues she has battled since childhood. I am not going to second-guess her; that’s for the medical experts to do. Did she receive grants, fellowships, scholarships? If so, then it would appear she benefited from spaces and resources that could possibly have gone to Black and Latino professionals. This could be considered cultural appropriation.

Lying on your resume is bad; seriously lying for years about your identity and misrepresenting your lived experience is worse. Whether you are looking for a job or a position in academia, do not embellish the truth. If you do, your integrity and reputation will be adversely affected. Your deception will be uncovered, and the consequences could be severe. You will either have to repay your employer or spend some time in jail. As for Ms. Krug, Georgetown University is investigating, and no one knows what the penalty, if any, will be.

As a job seeker, you may be quite desperate to find a job, but now is not the time to participate in such unethical job search practices. The responsibility is on you to carefully consider what you list on your resume. As the Zelikman blog post states “…when applying for a job, the best advice is the simplest: be honest.”

Sources:

NPR – White Professor invented her Black identity

Forbes – Jessica Krug admits she falsely claimed Black identity 

 

Google Will Reject You With These Resume Mistakes

 

Resume2_Rejected

Google will reject you with these resume mistakes! That’s the the essence of what Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, and a LinkedIn Influencer, wrote recently. He said that “in a fiercely competitive labour market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.” It’s not just Google, but so will the majority of employers.

A number of recruiters and human resource professionals often say the same thing. Some report that too many job seekers submit resumes that have poor formatting, spelling and grammar errors, and are longer than three pages.

Below are the five mistakes that you, or other job seekers, are making with their resumes, along with suggestions on how to correct them:

Typos. As much as you might be a good fit for the position, if there are typos in your resume, it gives the impression you are not as detail-oriented as you claim. It is easy for employers to reject your resume with the smallest of errors because there is a talent pool of good candidates from which they can choose.

Suggestion: To ensure your resume is error-free, read it in reverse order – from bottom to top, or ask someone else to proofread it for you.

Length. While the length of one’s resume is debatable, an eight-pager is way too much. Laszlo suggests having a one page resume for every ten years of work experience.

Suggestion: The more common rule is one to two pages, but if your accomplishments seep with value, making it a three-pager won’t hurt. Keep in mind, though, that the sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, not to tell your life story.

Formatting. For obvious reasons you want your resume to stand out in a sea of other resumes to quickly grab attention. But, you could easily go overboard with the formatting and your content gets lost.

Suggestion: Laszlo noted that if you are a designer or artist, you can be fairly creative with your formatting. His opinion is that the others of us should stick to white paper with black ink, consistent line spacing, and at least a ten-point font. The resume should also be clean and legible, with name and contact information on every page. He further advised that you view your resume in Google Docs and Word, attach it to an email, then open it in preview mode. This extra work is important as documents sometimes get garbled when moving across platforms. If in doubt, save the resume as a PDF.

Confidential Information. Many job seekers have inadvertently placed confidential information in their resumes. It is great to showcase your accomplishments, but not at the expense of appearing disloyal to one employer, and a potential risk to another. An employer will not hire anyone who shares trade secrets with their competitors.

Suggestion: Think it through carefully. Is the information already in the public domain? Will it breach your confidentiality agreement? If you are not sure, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not disclose the information.

Lies. This one is a no-no. As much as you may be tempted, never, ever, put lies on your resume. You will be discovered, even if it’s one week down the road, or 28 years afterwards. In 2007, the former dean of admissions at an Ivey League university, who was in the job for 28 years, had to resign after she it was discovered she lied about her academic credentials. And, more recently, a few CEOs have lost their jobs because they falsified their resumes.

Suggestion: Honesty is the best policy. Don’t inflate your sales results, your GPA, the number of people on your team, or the degree(s) you have. If you were one credit shy of obtaining the degree, be honest about it. Don’t give the impression you completed the full program when you did not.

You might not agree on all the points. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a great job opportunity just because there are mistakes in your resume.  Do whatever it takes to be included on the employer’s list of people to contact, rather than be excluded. Review your resume for mistakes and correct them.

When a Résumé Looks too Good to be True…

…It probably is! Some time ago I wrote an article titled “Lying on Resumes Alarmingly Common”, where I referenced a newspaper article with the heading “Official Résumé Wrong”! Fast forward to 2011, and it appears the topic of ‘lying on résumés’ has reared it’s head again. As a matter of fact, one month ago, I was reviewing the résumé of a young man and when I questioned him about his most recent experience, he admitted he had fabricated it because “others were doing it.” As a career coach and professional résumé writer, I owe it to my clients and myself to make sure that the information is correct.

Officeteam recently conducted a survey and it reveals, once again, that most job seekers stretch the truth on their résumés, particularly when it comes to their job duties and education. The job market may be tough right now, but job seekers should refrain from embellishing their résumés as they will be found out, sooner or later.

Here are some tips that Officeteam has offered to employers on how they can verify information on résumés. Job seekers should take note:

1. Watch for ambiguity. When reviewing resumes, question vague descriptions of skills (e.g., “familiar with,” “involved in”) which may be signs that a professional is trying to hide a lack of relevant work experience.
2. Ask once, ask twice. Pose interview questions that relate to specific skills needed. For example, if a candidate must know a particular software program, ask how he or she has used the technology in previous roles. If an applicant’s response is ambiguous, don’t be afraid to rephrase the question.
3. Get the facts. Ask references to confirm basic information such as the candidate’s employment history, job titles, responsibilities and salary. If they’re willing to talk further, delve into their thoughts on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal skills, and ability to work on a team.
4. Branch out. Inquire if references know of others you can speak to about promising candidates. Also, tap your own network to find mutual acquaintances who might be able to shed light on the prospective hire’s background and character.
6.  Put them to the test. To get a true sense of a candidate’s abilities, consider hiring the person on a temporary basis before extending a full-time offer. This allows both parties to assess whether the position is a fit.

How about you? Do you embellish, or have you lied on your résumé? Do you know anyone who does? Add your voice here!

Source: Officeteam

Related post: Lying on Résumés Alarmingly Common