Ah, the formative years. Those times between ages 13-16 – when you grow a little too fast, perspire a little too much, and aspire to be a little too “cool”; all while simultaneously making mountains out of any & all molehills. It’s an eye opening time for most – equal parts comedy and tragedy – with a respective sprinkling of drama mixed in.
During this time, you can also learn some lessons that will help guide you (and your career) in the years to come. One, poignantly, being: "tell the truth". Or more specifically – if you’re not telling the truth and there is going to be an opportunity for someone to find out that you’re not – "just fess up".
Yeah, it stings for a second; but it typically will save you some humiliation, embarrassment, – and concurrently – other people’s time.
That’s why I’m always astounded at the lengths some people (mature/grown adults that they are) will go to – & some of the BS they’ll make up – when trying to hide something during the hiring process! When they know full well that a drug screen, background check, credit check – or all 3 – will soon reveal whatever it is they’re trying to hide.
And I get it – times are tough! Candidates might exclude some stuff in an effort to get a new job – and what one of us hasn’t told a lil’ fib in the past to help better their situation? But c’mon, there’s a difference between saying you have 5 years of SAP Basis experience, when you only have 4 – and omitting the fact that you were fired from your last 5 jobs – not laid off.
Have some respect for other people’s time, energy, expense, etc – and just come clean! You mean to tell me that you don’t remember getting those 3 DUIs? What – you forgot to mention it? Where was this during our first conversation – when I asked specifically about any criminal background? Oh, you thought you told me. I see. Well, y’know that offer – the one for $55/hr? The long-term contract w/ ability to go direct? Yeah, nevermind.
It would actually be somewhat amusing - …if it wasn’t so frustrating. And sad. And counterproductive. And unprofessional. A couple of doozies from the past: (*bear in mind that ALL qualifications for each of the positions – including pre-hire screens – were divulged during the first conversation)
· One guy, insisted a dozen times, that he would have “no problems” meeting Height/Weight requirements to enter/exit a certain military vehicle (6’4 – 250lb limit). But after accepting the offer and going for pre-hire physical – this individual tipped the scales at 412 lbs. Maybe he had a few dozen celebratory donuts after accepting?
· There was the individual whom, after accepting a great opportunity with one of our automotive clients, had 3 straight diluted-urine tests during the drug screen. He wasn’t given a fourth. When the offer was pulled – he told me he wouldn’t be able to work there or accept anyway – because he’d just been arrested for possession. Shocker.
· We run credit checks on individuals as part of Security Clearance(s) and for any Accounting positions. Basically, the long n’ the short is, you just can’t have over $5k in collections. You can have $100,000 on your report in student/home/car loans – just as long as your current and don’t have past due stuff. I can’t count how many times people were “less than up-front” about their situations – but one specifically – always comes to mind. This individual, fully aware of the impending credit report, stated he was current on everything. Pulled report – and guess what? 2 bankruptcies filed 18 years apart, 1 foreclosed home, 2 cars repossessed, and a whopping $37,204 in collections. How does a person even have access to credit at that point?
· And then there’s always the “I got laid-off”/”headcount reduction” – that, upon reference check – turns into a “Fired”/”Walked-off”, etc.
Y’see? Lessons learned from adolescence can be beneficial to your job search – and to life in general.
So how did I – unfortunately – learn that honesty was the best policy? Well, to be honest, there were a few instances. But one, more than the others, usually comes to mind:
As a slightly awkward & gangly 15 year-old adolescent, socializing a little bit before soccer practice – (which in that context, mostly consisted of me and my fellow moron teammates/friends trying to show off in front of the girls walking to cheerleading practice) – my buddy Tony threw a challenge my way.
Lil’ backstory – a couple of times that season, I had celebrated a couple of goals by doing a front-flip. My reasoning for doing this was three-fold:
1) Because at 15, I could
2) Even though it made my coach furious – & I imagine, the other team as well – at the time I thought it was sweet! (Sportsmanship and all that be darned!)
3) When you’re 15, you do stupid stuff – like potentially injure yourself just to celebrate a goal
Now, the gauntlet that my friend Tony was so publicly throwing down, was that he bet I couldn’t do a back-flip.
“I can do a back-flip.” I so confidently lied.
Face down. On the grass. In front of the whole team.
So, job seekers – take it from me, or the afro ninja – just tell the truth. Saves everyone time – and might even save ya some embarrassment.