Don't Embellish or Lie During the Application Process
It may help you get the job, but you could pay for it later.
Many applicants try to increase their chances of landing a job by embellishing -- or downright lying about -- their experience or credentials. Although this may help them get the job, it is a risky strategy for a number of reasons.
Employees Who Lied Can Be Fired
Most obviously, if the employer ever finds out about the falsehoods, the employer can fire the offending individual immediately. And that person might have a more difficult time landing the next job with the black mark of a termination on his or her record.
Employees Who Lied Can't Sue Their Employers
There is another, more sinister consequence: If the employer ever treats an employee unlawfully and the employee sues, the employer may be able to escape liability or reduce the amount of money damages it owes to the mistreated employee by pointing to the lies and embellishments and saying that the individual never should have been hired in the first place. Courts have agreed, reasoning that employees who lied to get a job cannot later come to court and claim the employer did them wrong.
To do this, the employer can use a legal tactic called the "after-acquired evidence" theory to argue that negative information the employer discovered after the employee was hired should limit the employee's ability to make claims against the employer. Conduct by an employee that has been held sufficiently serious to be admitted as after-acquired evidence has included:
- failing to list a previous employer on a resumé
- failing to admit being terminated for cheating on timecards
- failing to reveal a prior conviction for a felony
- lying about education and experience on a job application, and
- fabricating a college degree during an interview.
(In addition to lying on an application, things an employee did after being hired and while working for an employer can also be considered after-acquired evidence that the employer uses against the employee in a lawsuit -- for example, falsifying company records or removing and copying the company's confidential financial statements.)
If you did lie on your job application or resumé, you may not be completely out of luck. Your employer can use the misinformation as a defense to a claim you make against the employer only if it was truly related to your job duties or performance. The employer must be able to show that you would have been fired -- or not hired in the first place -- if he or she had known the truth. Proving this type of second-guessing may not be easy.