Lying and Proud of It

Quite some time ago I was invited to attend an event where I would have the opportunity to network with job seekers.  As a career counselor, it was a perfect forum for me to answer any questions and to help provide direction to persons at various stages of their careers and job searches.

What was remarkable was not the Q & A of which I was a part, but the keynote speaker.  The organizers had asked a struggling job seeker to address the group.  She had not yet gotten her dream job, but was working at it.  In fact, for close to two years she had volunteered in order to get the practical experience she needed to start applying for “real” jobs.  Financially, she could afford to take the “volunteer route.”  I was impressed.  And then she blew it!

She was changing careers and was constantly having to deal with the fact that for every job she found in her new chosen career there was a minimum requirement of at least one or two years of actual experience.  Finally, in desperation when, about a year earlier, she secured an interview for an unpaid job that would give her the practical experience she needed, when asked if she had experience in one very important aspect of the job she said, “Yes!  Absolutely!”  Then, looking at the scores of job seekers in the room she added, “And do you think I did?  No!  Absolutely not!  But I GOT THE JOB!”

Well, it was not a “job” job, it was a volunteer position by an employer who basically was looking for an intern.  He was knowledgeable enough, I am assuming, to know that if he had called the “job” an “internship,” he might have had to actually pay her minimum wage because she was doing real work and not just getting coffee and making photocopies.  So it wasn’t a “job” but rather more of a “favor I’m doing for her to help her out” job.  Or so he would have told the IRS…

In any event, if it had been a real job, the employer would have asked for references.  He would have wanted to speak with someone who could have confirmed the experience she had told him that she had.  He didn’t.  And while he was not doing what a real employer would have been doing, she was reading up to gain the academic knowledge of the task she would be required to complete.  And, apparently, she got away with it.

But here’s the thing:  Don’t follow her example.  First, don’t lie in a job interview.  If you lie and get caught you will be fired for cause.  Second, don’t tell other people to lie.  That’s the message she sent.  She told scores of job seekers that the way to land a job is to lie in an interview.  Bad advice.  And third, don’t admit to lying when there is a recruiter in the room.  If tomorrow I had an executive recruiting client, an employer, looking to hire someone in her profession, I could never submit her.  I would be held accountable and liable if, because of my actions, the client hired a person who I knew was a liar and she had caused him harm.

So listen to your mother and always tell the truth!