The Importance of Being Ernest
On two occasions this January I have had conversations where candidates openly admitted to providing me with misleading accounts of their work experience.
In one instance a candidate had left their most recent role off their CV. It was a contract role… They had not updated their CV with this experience, instead indicating that they were still working at their former employer. The contract role had been an 18-month senior level position at a reputable firm.
The second instance involved a candidate who had conflicting records of their career on LinkedIn compared to their CV. The candidate had spent a year travelling the world, however their LinkedIn profile suggested they had been employed throughout this time. When I enquired about why, they told me that their LinkedIn profile was ‘fabricated’ as it looked cleaner for marketing purposes. They went on to insist that the CV ‘showed their true career history as it was very important that they were honest’… I was almost lost for words at this statement.
When discussing the decisions the candidates had made to exclude these pieces of information it was clear there were two main reasons. Firstly, that they had been given some very bad advice at some stage. And secondly, they felt that presenting their experience in this way would give them some kind of advantage in their career.
Of course, I may be wrong about this, but I really don’t think I am. I certainly live by the theory that honesty is the best policy. Both instances resulted in the candidates being discounted from recruitment processes immediately. Arguably this is enough of an example that lying about your experience will more likely hinder your career than it will progress it. It’s certainly the opinion of all the clients that I have discussed this with.
So, what should you do if you have concerns about how to position your experience and background in the best possible way? Well, speaking to a trusted recruiter can be a great step. After all they can help to put a positive spin on most things! In fact that is the least that you should expect. It’s definitely best to be honest about your experience. So simply talking through how best to explain things may alone give you the confidence required in your interview process, or search for your next position.
Recruiters with strong client relationships will add huge value in these instances. They can explain your career history to a client on your behalf and bury all fear of a career mishap becoming a hinderance in an interview process. Making the wrong decision in joining a business which results in you leaving a role after a year is common and prospective employers will happily forgive you for it. Businesses go bust, hire when they shouldn’t, merge, sell, and make radical changes at short notice. Another business owner or Director will likely have experienced this themselves so it’s best to be transparent. Offer detail to explain the situation to reassure a prospective employer that there is nothing more to it than this.
Hiring companies and hiring managers will always question several short-term career moves. It’s simply part of their due diligence and should not be seen as an aggressive or confrontational line of questioning. Being open and transparent about an unforeseen or negative work situation will show that you had done everything that you could, and that an unforeseen and uncontrollable decision left you in the situation that you ended up in.
We’ve all heard stories about how someone lied about their salary and got themselves a big bump at some point. Or someone who talked their way into a role that they weren’t qualified for. The chances are that the business they went to work for knew full well what they were doing and saw enough potential to nurture and develop that candidate’s qualities. Maybe though, just maybe, that person was exaggerating about the role they had taken.
Either way, throughout and at the end of a career it is unlikely that the decision to lie/mislead/be dishonest will be looked back upon with much self-respect.
If someone ‘advises’ you to add in or take out information about your career history, then do not listen to them. It will result in you being discounted from recruitment processes, your reputation being brought into question, and in many cases your contract being terminated within your probation period when your references come in.
Good advice would be – don’t lie, it’s really not worth it.