The job market is, unfortunately, full of lying and liars. In our previous incarnations as executive recruiters and head-hunters, we have come across every possible type of lying. Let’s not beat around the bush here: not little white lies, minor exaggerations or fibs. Downright lies.
Here are few examples:
Towards the end of the final interview, John is asked what his current salary package is. Pretty standard procedure in the recruitment process. John says $150k plus benefits, as that is what he thinks he is worth - though right now he is actually on $120k plus benefits. That fits with the employer’s range and John is offered the job at $160k plus benefits subject to references.
Fred was always embarrassed about that job he took 3 years ago. It didn’t work out and he got fired after only three months. He has 15 years of solid success in his career, so he just left that job off his resume and avoided talking about it at the interview. The interviews went well, the new employer liked him and he was offered the job subject to references.
Jane has been very successful to date in her marketing career but has hit a bit of a bump. The last two or three product launches have not gone well: she is over budget and getting a lot of pressure from her boss. She is selected for interview for another firm. The employer likes her and offers her the job subject to references. The recent problems were not mentioned in the interviews.
Ruth is in her forties and in a senior management position with a city firm. For over fifteen years, she has had a false qualification claim on her resume. Everyone else had a degree, so in her late twenties she just added one to her resume. Nobody seemed to notice and she got away with it. Her head-hunt for a CEO role has gone well and she has just learned that she is being offered the job subject to references.
All of those examples are real and from my recruiting career.
All four were rejected for the jobs they thought they had in the bag because their lies or omissions came out in reference checking.
I can assure you that a good recruiter or hiring manager will speak to your current employer and ask:
“What was their most recent salary package?”
“Do you know why they left their last job to join you?”
“How has their performance been over the last year?”
These are probing questions used by reference-takers to ask follow-on questions to learn more. They will also sound out your prior career history and check your qualifications. They will spot any gaps or false claims.
All four of the people mentioned above would have got the jobs if they had been honest – I checked with the employers. It was not the original problems that prevented the successful hires – it was the unease from the employer at hiring someone who had lied to them.