Recruiters, Candidates, and Lies

Much has been written about people lying in their resumes. However, a question in Quora yesterday was the first time I’ve seen someone publicly advocate lying about their salary to recruiters.

Specifically, the question was around whether his* last salary should be stated as lower than it actually was because he was at the high end in his previous position, and recruiters were “scared” by his last salary. In order to move forward, should he intentionally misstate his previous salary?

Now, he did ask a question but he took exception to my answer and went on the defensive. In fact, he said this … “If you believe lying won’t help someone achieve their career goals under any circumstances, then you are either a moralist or you intend to defend the rights of corporations against individuals at all costs.”

I don’t know if I’m a moralist, but I do hold very high values around honesty and integrity.

“Wrong is wrong even if everybody does it.
Right is right even if nobody does it.” ~ Unknown

My answer is an unequivocal NO. Lying, exaggerating, enhancing anywhere in the search and/or hiring process serves no useful purpose in the long run. It might move a candidate one step further initially, but when the lie is found out the consequences can be devastating.

I reached out to fellow Career Thought Leader and Recruiter Wayne Mitchell on this issue, and here’s what he had to say …

“I would never encourage an executive to misstate his/her previous compensation, especially with an executive recruiter.  Compensation is a relatively easy item for a recruiter to verify by simply asking a candidate to provide copies of his/her W2’s for the last three years.

The relationship between the recruiter and the executive is predicated on trust between the two.  Since common values are foundational to an individual’s fit with clients, I would certainly question a candidate’s integrity (usually the most basic client requirement) if I discovered that they intentionally misled me in any way.”

A relationship built on a little white lie or a great big lie is a relationship ultimately doomed to fail. Given the viral nature of social media, the fallout to a career could be disastrous.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know if this person is a “he” or “she” (or even an executive) since his posts are anonymous. The use of the masculine pronoun means nothing in the context of the story except I chose to use the masculine.

Share and enjoy

Leave a Comment