Would You Lie to Get Your Dream Job?

Would You Lie to Get Your Dream Job? All’s Fair in Love and War… and Job-Hunting?

All’s Fair in Love and War… and Job-Hunting?

A story popped up on my LinkedIn feed about a guy who impersonated a Postmates food delivery person to get his resume in front of executives at a bunch of tech firms in San Francisco. The article had lots of positive comments: “Good for him! He’s got guts! He sure knows about marketing!” Even the CEO of Postmates tweeted his approval.

As for me, I read that story and cringed. Part of it has to do with my background in commercial real estate in Washington, DC – where my colleagues faced security issues like computer thefts, aggressive protesters, and, once, an obviously unhinged shooter on a building rooftop. The idea of someone sneaking into an office building with hidden intentions could be a recipe for disaster.

Security concerns aside, something about this job-seeker’s story still gives me the heebie-jeebies. Here it is: he had to lie to get his resume in front of these tech honchos. Is that okay? Is that what a job search is supposed to be about?

The Point of No Return

General opinion seems to be that what the donut-toting job-hunter did falls into the “little white lie” category. And goodness knows, we are all guilty of fibbing from time to time. So I’ll refrain from passing judgment there.

But it brings up some interesting questions:

Do we expect people to be perfectly honest during the job-hunting process?

What about once we hire them?

No Lying Allowed

In general, lying is considered a no-no in the job application process. Google “fired for falsifying resume” and you’ll find scads of stories about executives, such as Yahoo’s former CEO Scott Thompson, and other high-ranking people who got the boot for fibbing on their CVs.

Or is it?

Recruiting is intended to be a fact-finding process, for both the hiring company and the potential employee. But it’s also a negotiation, in which each side may use confusion or misdirection to push the other side closer to the desired outcome. Turning again to our trusty Google, you’ll find even more stories about “salary negotiation tricks” than about disgraced resume-padding CEOs. Tips like, “Don’t reveal how much salary you’ll accept!” and “Use psychological tricks to make the employer feel like they’re winning!”

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View from the Top

Here’s the thing: I’m all for rewarding people for good ideas. But, as a hiring manager, I have to consider the message I’m sending. If I look the other way on donut shenanigans, am I implying that I’ll also tolerate unethical behavior once the candidate is hired?

This article from the Harvard Business Review says the answer is yes. It identifies five factors that lead to horrifying corporate scandals (like the Wells Fargo bogus account debacle), including failure by the leadership team to insist on ethical behavior.

You can call me a party pooper. But if I busted a candidate lying, I’d pass on hiring him or her. I can’t afford to have my team believing it’s okay with me if they behave unethically.

So… what actually happened to the Postmates impostor? As of early February 2017, his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles say he’s still looking for a job in marketing…

What do you think – would you try the Postmates trick? Would you want to hire someone who did?

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