Monday, February 26, 2007

Fudging on Job Application

I have been offered a position through a letter and have taken the job. However, they have now sent me a job application -- a little backwards in my opinion. The issue is that between the last couple of jobs there were a few months of gaps that I did not show on my resume.

On the application I showed ending a job one month actually after ending it and starting the next job one month before I actually started it. In fact, I had been consulting off the books during those times and had gone back for some continuing education classes.

I did not tell my prospective employer about this and I was wondering if HR actually contacts the last two jobs, and if the time differences will make or break the deal. I have already been offered the position.

by Marc Effron, VP, Talent Management, Avon Products

There is both a practical and an ethical issue to your question but I assume you want to focus on the practical.

It’s likely the job application has a place for your signature where you swear that your statements are true and that the company can terminate you if anything you’ve stated on your application is false. You have a clear choice:

- You can list the same dates that you did on your resume and be ready with a really good excuse for lying when (not if) they verify your dates of employment.
- You can list the correct dates and be ready to explain the gaps if they are questioned. Employers understand gaps in employment – lots of people have them. You have a chance to correct your original mistake by telling the truth on the form.

If your employer asks about the gaps, have a clear explanation for them and why you fudged on your application. And most important, apologize for doing that and acknowledge that it was the wrong choice to make and that it doesn’t reflect your values.

Hope that helps!

Marc Effron is Vice President, Talent Management for Avon Products. He has co-authored two books (including Leading the Way) and numerous articles about leadership. He is a frequent speaker at industry events.

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
I agree with Marc on this. On a job application, you must list the months and years of your employment and you need to list them accurately. Lies on your resume or application can be grounds for termination at any point during your employment with that organization.

Hopefully your sincerity will shine through at the interview and your “slip of the pen” will be forgiven. In fact, I suggest you ask if you can fill out a new application with the accurate information so there will be no false statements in your personnel file once you are hired.

On the lighter side, take a look at Guy Kawasaki’s series of Top Lies by lots of professionals including CEOs, engineers, entrepreneurs, and marketers.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email ( it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.


Mary-Louise Boyd said...

I work for Guy Kawasaki, and I would like to thank you for your comment and link to Guy's blog posting!

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