I was in a meeting the other day during which we were asked to introduce ourselves. One person opened his introduction by stating his academic qualifications. He claimed an interesting degree from a top university – a degree I had never heard of before.
Something just didn’t sound right, so I did some on-line research. Instead of a degree program what I found was a self-study class for which one receives a certificate. It is offered through the well-know university. But no qualifications, beyond the ability to pay, are necessary for enrollment. This person obviously misrepresented his qualifications – but why?
We all want to show ourselves in the best light. After all, being well thought of by others is important in both our personal lives and in business if we are to succeed. However, when the desire to impress crosses the line into misleading others, you lose more than you could ever win.
Sometimes the misrepresentation is small, just a white lie. Perhaps you inflated a previous title, salary or claimed responsibilities or experience that more rightly belonged to others. Sometimes the lie is much larger. You allege a degree that you never received or worse, buy a fraudulent degree. Changing resume dates to cover a laps in employment can, and very likely will, come back to bite you. You may not be found out immediately, but the chances are high that the lie will be discovered at some point.
HR departments, hiring managers and clients are becoming savvier in confirming the claims made by potential employees, consultants and contractors. The Internet offers a massive amount of information that can be accessed with minimal effort. In addition, firms that specialize in pre-employment investigations are expert at bringing resume and other lies to light.
The obvious solution to all of this is to tell the truth. If you are not happy with your qualifications do the work to earn better ones. If you want to claim certain experience, go out and get it. Until then, stick to the truth, the whole truth and . . . you get the message.