Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Liar. liar

Last week, a story ran on ABC News about companies that were providing fake references for job seekers, for a fee. HRGuru has picked up the thread and tried to interview one of the companies that would provide you with fake job details and they also provided a good analysis of whether lying on your resume was legal or not. According to an article from the Association for Business Communication, quoted in the HRGuru post, lying on your resume is not illegal--unless you are using a degree from a diploma mill on your resume and if there are laws in place in the state that you work in about falsifying information on a resume.

But why would people lie on a resume?
  1. They don't have the education that the position requires. Please don't lie about being a surgeon just because the salary looks enticing. I also do want to have sympathy for people who can't get into certain fields where the position is not protected or professionalized, but the excuse that I have a family, I have a house, I can't go back to school is a false one for me. I see many people who are in that situation--family, kids, dog, even single and struggling--and they make the sacrifice to go to school. Need the education: go get it.
  2. They don't feel that a previous employer, if contacted, will treat them fairly. If Kreskin retires, you should have his job. You have no idea what a person will say as a reference, unless they come out and say, I won't recommend you. In that case, there are other reasonable ways around that problem: ask a colleague to act as a reference, get some personal references, ask another supervisor. All of these will work. If you were really treated unfairly, get an advocate or a lawyer and get an appropriate written letter of recommendation that you can give to potential employers. Use the legal, appropriate options available to you, first. Don't lie.

    These options are open provided that you didn't screw up and deserve the bad reference. In that case, you need to do some penance, look for people who will assist you, and actually work to deserve some forgiveness.
And if you are actually in the position where you need the education to get to where you want to be, or you have truly screwed up and need to get right, there are many community resources available to you that will help you get back together. You can plead fear, overwork or laziness, but many other people have overcome those obstacles.

If you're a librarian teaching a resume skills class and get asked about "fudging" on a resume, be clear that it is not appropriate, and provide some local community resource referrals for career and education counseling. Especially if the obstacle is only in their minds like the poor, fired bank worker in the HRGuru article.

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