Honesty the best policy in resumes
An ambitious man who recently got a top job in a Sydney department store chain was sacked on his very first day when he was alleged to have lied on his resume. He wasn’t the first. Surveys have found one person in three admits to lying, stretching the truth or telling little fibs on their resume. And these are the honest liars. Another survey of graduates found 70 per cent said they would lie on a resume to get the job they want.
The most common fibs involved hiding employment gaps, bogus education qualifications, embellishing experience, claiming higher salary in last job and exaggerating skills.
It’s not unusual to stretch the truth on CVs and resumes. A bit of polish and embellishment is even expected. But beware of going too far. In the US there are businesses that will pretend to be your past employer and give you glowing fake references, even answer the phone pretending to be your old boss.
So where does the law stand on lying on resumes? It could be viewed as fraud, and an employer might consider legal action if they have been put to cost and embarrassment after they publicly gloated they had hired a hot shot. Questions could be asked whether lies were told to recruitment interviewers.
However privacy laws could help a resume stretcher. Recruiters are obliged only to contact the references listed by the job seeker. If the recruiter wants to dig deeper they would need to let the applicant know they are going outside the listed references. If the recruiter is told something adverse to the job seeker they would need to let the job seeker know.
No matter how good you might be for the job, if you are found to have lied on your resume you are more than likely to be quickly shown the door. Employees can be fired in the first six months in a new job with no right to bring a claim of unfair dismissal. In small business this situation lasts 12 months.
Rather than fib about job or academic achievements, a survey of employers of university graduates suggests it may be better to build up your social skills. Graduate Careers Australia found employers rate personal communications skills and enthusiasm for the job higher than academic results. Commitment, drive and passion for the work rated highly in what employers want. So the best way to get the job is to study the firm you want to join and prove to them how much you want to be there and be part of their team.