You may think filling out a job application is just a formality and not very important. After all, you’ve already sent in your resume, right?

Wrong. Filling out a job application—honestly—is an important step in getting a job offer. Why?

Your resume isn’t a legal document, so  have no way of knowing if everything you wrote in it is true. So they use job applications as the basis for running background checks.

So, what if you’ve fudged your resume a little bit?

First, when you sign a job application, you’re attesting to the truth of what you’ve written. If you’re  different facts on the application than you wrote on your resume, the employer will know you lied—or are careless—and will immediately  you from the candidate pool. What  on your job application  to  what  on your resume.

Second, some employers will run a background check and call your references to see whether you’ve been honest about your education, your past work experience and your criminal background. It’s easy enough for them to confirm that you graduated from the program and college you claim, and they can find out from your references if you exaggerated your past job titles, responsibilities or salary.

But What If I…?

Maybe you think you have a good reason for stretching the truth on an application (or resume). But the truth will come out eventually, and it’s better if it comes from you. For example:

  • If you have gaps in your employment history – Just explain what happened, as briefly as possible. If you want to leave a particular job off your job application and resume, you do have that option. Just don’t misrepresent the employment dates of your other jobs to cover this newly created employment history gap.
  • If you didn’t graduate from college – Don’t say you did. This is one of the easiest facts to check, and an employer will most likely rescind an offer if they find out you were dishonest. If you attended but didn’t graduate, you can include how many semesters you attended, or how many credits you earned, and list any classes that may be relevant to the position you’re applying for.
  • If you have a criminal record – If you have ever been convicted of a crime (misdemeanor or felony), which includes DUI, be the one to tell the employer about it. You could still get hired if you disclose it; if you don’t, you’ll probably be bypassed just for lying on your application.
  • If your most recent salary was much less than you’d like to be making – While you might be tempted to tell a prospective employer that your salary was higher than it actually was, don’t. Instead, give a total compensation number. That will help give you the negotiating power you need. But be prepared to break your compensation down to the details if asked.

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to finding a new job, especially when it comes to putting things in writing. Some companies even have their applications state that reporting false information is grounds for being fired from the company. And if you think about it—a job is a relationship, and you don’t want to start any relationship based on a lie.

At Smith Hanley, we’re always honest about what we can do for you and your career. If you’re looking for just the right position, call or contact us any time!


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