Fabricating credentials on a resume is not uncommon — Careerbuilder reports 58 percent of employers have caught a lie on a resume. While 52 percent of those would reject the candidate, 7 percent would overlook the situation if they liked the person.
But exaggerations or outright lies on a resume can damage an organization. Consider the case of my associate. Her credentials and experience seemed solid. She displayed the maturity to handle the ever-changing aspects of the job. Fast-forward to red flags shooting like fireworks as her behavior prompted further investigation. She boasted she had landed a major account for the firm — not true — and had performed the majority of the campaign’s work. She asked a client whether he was “really OK” with a proposal.
After one co-worker noticed another relying on a cane and asked about it, the appreciative cane user happily explained the situation. The new employee resented the conversation, refused to talk to the inquiring person and turned her back on her during a luncheon. She questioned media representatives, my appointment schedule, and finally announced that she really didn’t like people or interacting with co-workers.
Checking with her former employers resulted in one company revealing problems she had caused and another’s human resources representative asking, “Who? I’ve never heard of her.” A relative of a co-worker employed by that organization also refuted the associate’s alleged role. With other jobs, she mentioned she was an employee rather than an intern, and a staff member when she was actually a freelancer. Some references were imaginary. Only one job was true.
As a character in the “Cool Hand Luke” movie said, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate … some (men) you just can’t reach.” A bad hire can lower office morale and damage your brand and your reputation with clients. To avoid this situation:
- Start digging. Look into the person’s background when you start having second thoughts. There is a difference between being receptive to learning new tools and stating in an interview you’ve mastered them.
- Address lack of trust. Privately express your opposition to it happening again. Provide proof.
- Document conversations. Involve your human resources representative or legal counsel and present clear evidence.
- Be positive to counteract negativity. Allow the person to explain what may really be going on. If there isn’t an underlying concern — a medical or domestic matter — you have an unwarranted issue.
- Be calm. When someone is glaring at you, be calm to diffuse the situation.
- Keep in touch with your staff. Regularly communicate your expectations. Employees have probably already noticed an outlier, and they expect you to do something. Associates do not need to be best friends forever, but they must be cordial to each other.
- Use specifics, presenting facts rather than leading with fault. Someone may have a bad attitude, but refusal to pitch stories to media is an actionable item.
When employees tell tall tales, it halts their career growth. Decide when to say goodbye for the sake of your staff, clients and brand. Instead of making lemonade out of lemons, aim higher with smooth limoncello. Offer a toast to restoring a tranquil workplace upon the departure of your own problem employee.
Michele Cuthbert is CEO and creator at Baker Creative