This Just In: Americans Routinely Lie on Their Resumes

"Americans Are Unethical in Getting Jobs" is the straightforward name and thesis of a new newsletter by Bradford Smart, Ph.D., president of Chicago-area-based hiring consultancy firm Smart & Associates Inc. Judging from 65,000 case studies on how people got jobs, Smart says that outplacement firms and job-seeking books almost all recommend lying on one's resume and in interviews. He adds that the prevailing advice goes beyond hyping the positives and toning down admission of negatives; the prevalence of the practice suggests the nation is in need of an "ethical transplant," he says.

Smart notes that outplacement counselors and authors of job-hunting books know that companies prohibit their managers from giving out reference information or opinions for fear of a lawsuit and thus recommend that people list only references who will sing their praises--neighbors and golfing buddies, if those will be the most positive. Realizing they probably won't be caught in lies, and convinced they'll have a better chance of getting the job if they are deceptive, job candidates let their ethics wane, Smart says, adding that the rampant deception is costing American employers in both time and money.

Going against the grain of such practices, Smart developed the "Topgrading" method of hiring and retaining employees, and his Web site, www.SmartTopgrading.com, is offering a free, 50-page eBook titled "Avoid Costly Mis-Hires" that outlines his ideas. Among the strategies Smart has for employers, for example, is to tell job candidates upfront that they will have to arrange reference calls with their former employers. "That motivates poor candidates to drop out, but the good ones want you to talk with their former bosses," says Smart, "and candidates, knowing you'll talk with bosses, are very honest in interviews."

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