Here’s How To Damage Your Career Telling These 4 Lies

Cartoon of interviewer asking man, Everything on your resume is true right?, apparently not since his nose has grown long.

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Cartoon of interviewer asking man, Everything on your resume is true right?, apparently not since his nose has grown long.

cartoon resource; Bigstock

Believe it or not, most of us are guilty of not telling the whole truth — beginning from our job search and carrying over into the workplace — but lying to your current or a potential employer is a risky road to go down.

You might find a job opening that fits the definition of your ‘dream job’, only to discover that you’re not even close to qualified. Or you’ll decide to lie to your boss about being sick because you’re afraid they’ll decline your reason to take the day off. Regardless of the situation, being caught in these lies can really hurt your career.

Here are four situations when job seekers and employees most commonly lie, why you should avoid them and how they can damage your career:

Calling in “sick”

The truth is, many people make up lies about why they’re not in the office. But the majority of companies give their employees a set amount of paid time off that they may use as they please. In spite of this benefit, a survey from CareerBuilder found that 27 percent of employees surveyed still feel they need to make an excuse for calling into work.

Just be honest. If you want the day off to go to a concert, just say so. It’s not going to look good when you tell your boss that you’re home sick for the day, and then your co-worker sees a picture of you on facebook and rats you out. The worst that could happen by telling the truth is that your manager denies your PTO request.

Lying for no reason creates unnecessary conflict in the workplace. And the next time you’re actually sick, people might have a hard time believing you.

Exaggerating your job experience

Job descriptions usually list a set of desired skills that employers are looking for when considering qualified candidates. There’s just one little problem. The job description says that SEO skills are required. You know the general concept of search engine optimization, but only took one class before graduating college — and that was over two years ago. So, you exaggerate your skills to secure the position. And you’re not the only one.

In fact, a new CareerBuilder Survey of hiring and human resource managers conducted in May and June found that 62 percent of hiring professionals surveyed by CareerBuilder said they commonly saw embellished skill sets on resumes.

What do you think is going to happen if you get the job and realize a large part of your position focuses on improving the company’s SEO techniques? You have no clue what that means — let alone what advancements have been made since you took the class two years ago.

You will have to fess up and admit that you lied on your resume, and your reputation will be marred. Don’t be guilty of committing this common resume crime; instead be honest with yourself and the hiring manager from the start. Avoid damaging your career with white lies, by only applying for jobs that you are qualified for.

Pretending to like your job

You keep telling yourself that you don’t make enough money, your boss is horrible or this is the only job you can do, and if you just stick it out a little longer, things will get better. And you’ve put a lot of time into convincing yourself this is true for you. Stop lying to yourself and start pursuing a different job opportunity that will get you closer to reaching your goals — and happiness.

It seems like common knowledge, but start by weighing the pros and cons of your current job. Is it really the work that is making you unhappy or something else in life holding you back?

Too often, people stay stuck in jobs they are not satisfied with because they are afraid to take a risk. But career happiness doesn’t come from coping with a bad situation or lying to yourself about what makes you happy. It comes from being honest.

Who knows what other opportunities you could be missing out on?

Avoiding honest feedback to coworkers

There are not many people who enjoy giving feedback to their colleagues. Depending on your relationship with the person, this can be a challenging and sensitive situation.

Be timely and don’t wait too long to talk over a particular incident. If you do, your comment could lose its impact and neither of you may remember what happened as clearly as when the incident occurred — in which case, you most likely will convince yourself that there is no sense in having the conversation. And now you’re back to square one.

Avoiding hard talks does nothing to improve communication in the office and lying to yourself or coworkers about troubling issues only damages workplace relationships.

Focus the conversation on a particular action or behavioral pattern that has been problematic, rather than character or personality differences. Let the person know what they do well, in addition to what actions need improvement. And open the conversation up for them to be honest with you. This way, you both leave the conversation confident in your ability to change and improve, rather than feeling defeated.

What are some other lies that could damage your career?  

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.