Truth or Consequences

Posted on 27 July 2009

Truth or Consequences

In today’s business world, truth is not a commodity in great supply.  As our economy tanks despite massive infusions of public capital, evidence surfaces that those with whom many, great and small alike, have entrusted savings, retirements, and other monies have defrauded them.  Bernard Madoff, convicted of masterminding the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, and R. Allen Stanford, whose case is yet to be adjudicated, are but two of the more prominent examples of the sordidness and outright criminality of American greed.


In comparison, the job seeker who misstates the duration of his employment tenure or covers a gap in career history with a fictitious position seems almost innocent.  Make no mistake, however, falsification of information on resumes and employment applications has significant consequences for both employers and job seekers.


To job applicants who are unemployed or facing the prospect of unemployment, it may seem expedient and profitable to cover omissions and falsify information.  The rationale is that if one appears better on paper (or more commonly, on an electronic resume), one will improve his competitiveness in a field of highly qualified candidates for employment.  Almost invariably, this ill-conceived strategy will backfire.


In the aftermath of 9/11, employers have begun to scrutinize prospective employees much more closely. As business has suffered from the credit crunch and downward-spiraling economic conditions, the job pool shrunk, and the talent pool widened, prospective employers and recruiters have sought to stem risk at every turn.  The results of a survey conducted recently by Sure Payroll, an online payroll service, illustrates why.  Forty-eight percent of the corporations polled reported that “bad hires” had cost them an average of $1,000; nine percent indicated that their related losses were in excess of $10,000.


According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 96% of all employers conduct background investigations on every individual who hopes to join their ranks.  A simple Google search will uncover a vast amount of information, including social, political, and business-oriented Internet sites on which applicants not only post but may also be referenced via blogs or articles.  Once a candidate finds himself in the running, he must provide the potential employer with his social security number, thus opening an avenue for a wealth of information, including credit standing, past employers, dates of tenure, and income data.  Thus, lies and half-truths are easily detected.


If your background contains a liability – as is the case with most job candidates, how can you reduce your own risk while simultaneously optimizing your marketability?  The answer lies in creation of resumes, cover letters, and other marketing materials that focus on accomplishments and skills (transferrable if you are seeking a career change).  By trumpeting your positives, you can minimize – to the greatest extent possible – any prospective liabilities that your resume may reveal.  By employing this simple, yet powerful approach, you enhance your chances of being hired and retained on the basis of truth, rather than self-serving lies. 

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7 Responses to “Truth or Consequences”

  1. Kenneth Q. says:

    A very informative article and one that seems accurate. However, it also irks me and that is an understatement. Here’s why. People like Madoff and once-respected institutions such as Chase Bank can commit acts — essentially against the consumer/job hunter — that plunge our economy further into the toilet. At the same time, desperate job seekers who are essentially decent people must reveal every little detail of their backgrounds in the hope of landing a job that will enable them to eat, keep the roof over their heads, and allow their families to survive.

  2. Sarah Smile says:

    Thank you for this enlightening article. I am, thankfully, gainfully employed but I know too many people who are not, through no fault of their own. I will tell them about this article.

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