lying on resume

Question: My employer was abusive and downright unethical. They made so many promises when hiring and then defaulted on all of them. They would ask me to do stuff that I had not signed up for.  It became intolerable and I quit two months ago. Even though they were unethical – I did serve my side of responsibilities including 2 weeks’ notice and closing all open jobs.

While I was searching for the job, I did not disclose the fact that I have already left the job. I have recently interviewed for a great opportunity and now I am worried that they may find out that I lied on my resume. When they asked me the reason for change in job – I told them in all honesty what a jerk of a work culture I was in.  

My questions are twofold:  Will my prospective employer call my previous employer? and what if they find that I left 2 months ago and lied about it?  Also, should I have not bitched about my current employer?  Please tell me so that I can at least be prepared for other opportunities.

JIB: How can I be sure that you were not fired but voluntarily left the company?  My point here is not to make your situation more complex but that is the question/doubt that will trigger in prospective employer’s mind when they find things about otherwise promising candidates.

True story – I mentioned this story in another section of our site but it needs reiteration here.  When I was working in a big multinational firm in India – I had the privilege of watching a young dynamic individual ace through the busy season with 26+ praising accolades within 2 months. That is about 1 praise every other day for his outstanding work. Everyone thought this guy was on fast track and our head of department had no doubt about that.

Few days after the busy season – he got called into Vice-President’s office, HR was already in there. For everyone outside, this was a sure sign that he is going to get an early promotion. Unfortunately, He walked out of the VPs office, HR accompanying him, taking his badge and escorting him out the door. Everyone on the floor were shocked. After days of silence, our HR told us what had happened. This star of an employee had lied about 3 months gap on his resume (similar to your situation) and this was discovered during the HR background check. Even though our Vice-President tried to save his job, as it fell into the ‘ethical’ aspect, he was asked to stay out of it by the HR. Powerful are these ethical misdemeanors.

Of course, not all situations will be this dramatic but on the other hand, it is a true story.

For the opportunity in hand – our recommendation would be that you call the prospective employer and come out clean that you forgot to delete the end date of your employment. If you are lucky and you sent in resume while you were still in employment, you can say it was true as of the date you sent the resume but not true anymore. Be ready to spill out the reasons though (I doubt he/she will ask you for any since you already ‘bitched’ (your words not mine) about your company).

What to do for future job interviews?

Be honest on your resume. It may take a while to find job but when you do – you will not have to watch your back.

Find reasons for leaving the employment before finding a new job. Here are few ideas:
1. Enhancing skills for next job:  “I realized the job was not ideal for me and that I had to acquire skills to get into my kind of ideal job (for example the one you are interviewing for) so I quit and enrolled into this ‘course’.”  Be sure to have a certificate to back it up.  You can enroll and complete online courses at an expedited phase.  If your prospective employer has any brains – he will see you as a go-getter.

2. Family member (or yourself) to take care of:  My mom (or you) was sick and with my brother gone to war in Iraq the responsibility to take care of her fell on my shoulders. I had asked for a temporary leave of absence and they denied my request.  I couldn’t choose job over my mother.  [sob sob, just kidding.]  On a serious note, there are plenty of situations where people feel that they do not get enough support (morally) from their employer when they need it the most.  Use that situation and exaggerate abit. You are not lying, mind you, you are highlighting, exaggeratedly, the situation that prompted you to leave your previous employer.

3. I am looking for a career not a job: “I realized that my previous employer was a great provider of job but I am looking for a place that can provide me career.  I was giving myself time to see if my job was going to leeway into a career but having worked for 2 years and having learned all I can, it proved that the growth opportunities were very limited.  It was hard for me to search for a new career while I was putting in 12-14 hours a day and that prompted me to leave the job and start searching full time.”  If you read this paragraph again – you will notice that I bitched and bitched a lot but without pointing fingers at a person.  I managed to show the positive aspects (12-14 hours, looking for career, not being hasty by waiting 2 years, learning all I could etc) and at the same time subtly hint what I was looking for.

You can come up with a way to convey your own situation in a more polite and diplomatic way.  Always frame your situation in a way that showcases your ‘progressive’ thinking and not ‘defensive reaction’.  If you need help with ideas on framing your situation into progressive frame – shoot us a note.

Never bitch about your previous employer:  I have said this hundred times before and am saying this again – never bitch about your previous employer.  You may have been tortured to the core, made to work 80 hour weeks, had to survive the most snobbish boss in your life, I understand and empathize.  For your own sake, leave these negative experiences outside the prospective employer’s office.  When asked for ‘why are you leaving (or thinking to leave)’, you have to come up with more constructive reasons than my boss is an idiot.  We have written a complete article about ‘why are you looking for a change’.


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