Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Actions & Consequences

Poker players nearly always lie: it is the essence of the game.   

At the Bellagio late one night I was playing at a table with a wise old Vegas local I know well and who is a preacher at his local church.  I asked him how he could justify the lies, even in a game.  He looked at me, sighed deeply and said slowly with a mischievous glint in his eye, ‘Always tell the truth son, even if you have to make it up’....

Away from the poker table we all lie sometimes, don’t we?  However insignificant the lie may appear and however noble the reasons for doing so, is it always wrong ?

Just this week I got caught out telling a small fib: well,  in reality it wasn’t even telling a lie, it was just not clarifying a situation which then gave the perception that I was not telling the truth.   Friends and business colleagues know that the very essence of my work is integrity and without it I have no credibility, especially in my sectors.   However, perception is reality - especially for people who don’t know you well – and due to my omission it looks like I am going to lose a potentially important friendship.

For jobseekers the parallels are obvious as numerous studies have shown that the primary job seeking tool – the CV - usually fails to reflect the whole truth.  When I am specifically asked about lying on CV’s my advice is always to exaggerate the positives but never lie.  In an area such as Computer Forensics you usually will be checked out fully by potential employers (even if the role doesn’t require SC vetting or similar) and if there are any discrepancies the job offer will be withdrawn.  

If you think that in reality this never happens then think again.  I have personally seen this occur maybe twenty times in the last ten years and the situation is exacerbated further by the offer usually being withdrawn after the jobseeker has already resigned from their current role.  Three of the most recent examples of offers being withdrawn are as follows:

  • The CV stated that the jobseeker had obtained A’level grades (eight years ago) of BBB.  The reality was BCB.  The A’level grades weren’t necessary for the role but it was just the lie that lead to the offer being withdrawn.
  • The jobseeker altered dates to show that they had worked for an employer for an extra three months when in reality they had resigned and been unemployed.  Like the previous  example, the period in question was a few years ago and would have had no effect on them being offered a position.
  • The most recent case was a little more extreme.  The jobseeker had been sacked from a position and when asked for a reference contact actually supplied the details of a friend who had never worked at the company.   Unsurprisingly in such a tight sector as forensics, this did not prove to be a successful strategy!

In summary  the situation is exactly the same for jobseekers as in the rest of life.  If you do choose to lie (or omit key information) go ahead....but be very aware of the consequences of following this course of action.

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