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I fudged the end date of my last job by six weeks. What now?
September 30, 2011 12:00 PM   Subscribe

On my resume, I fudged the end date for my last job by six weeks, to cover up a bad situation where I was not at fault. A new company has given me an offer, checked my references, and sent me all the new hire paperwork. I'm supposed to start in two weeks. Only problem? I had to consent to a background check. Now I'm concerned that my lie will be uncovered. What do I do?

I worked at Widgets, Inc for two years. I left that job to work for Foobar, LLC. Upon starting at Foobar, LLC., I quickly learned that I had been lied to about the job description. Furthermore, my manager was verbally abusive and berated me a number of times when I had done nothing wrong. The situation was unbearable, and so I quit without giving notice. I worked there for a total of 5 weeks.

According to my resume, I am still working at Widgets, Inc., when in reality, I quit working there about 6 weeks ago. My new prospective employer uses a background checking service that promises to "contact former empoloyers to verify work history and reasons for leaving". According to the offer letter, the offer is contingent upon successfully completing the background check. However, they asked that I turn in the background check consent form (along with the other new hire paperwork) on my first day of work. So if they found out about my lie, it would be some time after I started work.

Questions :
A) What's the likelihood someone will notice that I fudged my end date at Widgets, Inc. by 6 weeks?
B) If they do notice, what will happen?
C) Why in the world didn't they do the background check BEFORE they offered me the job?
D) Is there any way they can find out about my time at Foobar, LLC? None of my employment history shows up on my credit reports (I pulled all three last night).
E) And finally, what the heck do I do? Make up some excuse as to why I can't take the job? Or start work in two weeks and hope they don't uncover my lie? And what if I take the job and they do uncover the lie? What do I to then?

Some more details :
* I left Widgets, Inc. on good terms, and I'm pretty sure my former manager would be a positive reference If I were to ask him. However, Widgets, Inc. has a phone line for employee verification, and I believe all they tell you is start and end dates.
* I found the new job through a 3rd party recruiter, who I imagine is probably paid a hefty commission.
* I have near-perfect credit, and no criminal history.
posted by Sloop John B to Work & Money (20 answers total)
 
Did you see this post from yesterday? Seems relevant.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2011


Does your resume say XXX Date-Present? If so, just say it's an older copy, and "Present" was the time you wrote it.
posted by xingcat at 12:03 PM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Could you say you accidentally sent an older copy of your resume that you wrote when you still worked at Widgets? Did you actually discuss the Widgets end date with the new employer?
posted by cranberrymonger at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2011


Yes I did, but the situations are different. In my case, if they check start and end dates, they'll see that I lied. Also, my former manager would give me a good recommendation if asked.
posted by Sloop John B at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2011


Could you say you accidentally sent an older copy of your resume that you wrote when you still worked at Widgets? Did you actually discuss the Widgets end date with the new employer?

I don't think we ever discussed it directly. However, I was definitely asked the question, "Why are you leaving Widgets, Inc.?", and I didn't mention that I'd already left. So I don't know if that robs me of the opportunity to say that I accidentally sent an old copy of the resume.
posted by Sloop John B at 12:07 PM on September 30, 2011


(sorry, this comment was a response to Admiral Haddock's comment at the top)
posted by Sloop John B at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2011


Does your resume say XXX Date-Present?

Yes it does.

(sorry for all the updates, folks)
posted by Sloop John B at 12:15 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


At this point, just sit tight and hope that nothing comes up. And even if it does, so what? They aren't hiring you because you spent an extra six weeks as whatever. They're hiring you because of your skills, your fit with their org, and your future potential.

In short, let sleeping dogs lie.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:21 PM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine that anyone will notice or care.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:30 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


They most likely won't care. If they do bring it up, why not just say the date was a typo on your resume? And if it ever comes up that you worked at Foobar, just say, "Oh, I was just there for a few weeks, it wasn't enough to put on my resume."
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:38 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't give a shit personally. The question "Why are you leaving Widgets, Inc." attempts to suss out two things: whether you were fired for cause, and what kind of alternative offers are in the works. And maybe dig up some dirt on Widgets Inc.
posted by pwnguin at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


People -

Companies will do background checks. Period. Why do you hide the truth? STOP IT.

If you had come to the hive back then, I would have suggested leaving your resume intact (saying xx- present). When asked specifically about leaving, that's when you should have said "that copy of the resume is actually slightly dated.. I left Widgets for xx reasons. The new company turned out to have grossly misrepresented the position, so after giving it a chance, I voluntarily left. It was only a matter of weeks, and was not the position I had interviewed for, so I don't think it's right to include it."

Also, the new fad in resumes is just to give years of employment (98-2001, 2001-2004) instead of specific months.

Now, on to your actual concern;

A) What's the likelihood someone will notice that I fudged my end date at Widgets, Inc. by 6 weeks?
Most times, the checks ask if the person was employed, and if they were terminated with cause. Sometimes they'll ask specific date. So, depends on the HR person doing the check. Either they'll assume the 6 weeks was because you left just ahead of the interview process starting, they'll flag it as unsual but not noteworthy given everything else matches up, or they'll flag it because that's the kind of detail-oriented person they are.

B) If they do notice, what will happen?
Depends, again. 6 weeks is not as big of a deal as say 6 months or a year or more. Again, it may just be written off as not consequential.

C) Why in the world didn't they do the background check BEFORE they offered me the job?
Because there is no reason to go through it until you accept the offer. They can still come back a few weeks to months to years in and term you for cause. My friend indicated he completed a degree when he was 3 credits short. 5 years later, someone uncovered it and he was gone that day.

D) Is there any way they can find out about my time at Foobar, LLC? None of my employment history shows up on my credit reports (I pulled all three last night).
Yes - everyone is doing social networking searches now. Is it relevant? Probably not, given the short term. And if it is brought up, answer above should suffice.

E) And finally, what the heck do I do? Make up some excuse as to why I can't take the job? Or start work in two weeks and hope they don't uncover my lie? And what if I take the job and they do uncover the lie? What do I to then?

Start work. You can't do anything until it comes up. When it comes up, don't lie, but don't say you lied. Answer above should suffice - you didn't update your resume, and the 6 weeks you didn't consider relevant, given the circumstances. Do not talk about the boss berating you. Stick to the job not being what they said and be somewhat specific. I.E. they hired me to be a webmonkey then had me doing excel spreadsheets without any web related work at all.

Delivery is important. If you act guilty like you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar, it'll be bad. If you are 'oh, that.. it was 6 weeks, and didn't believe it would be relevant given the circumstances,' then less of an issue.
posted by rich at 1:08 PM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've got some experience initiating background checks (albeit there are different processes) and this is not the kind of information that was reported out (nor is it the kind of information my company was looking for). I think you're fine; stop worrying and enjoy your new job.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:19 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you have an option to turn in your background check consent now, you can do that and not consent to the agency (doing the background check) contacting your current employer. This is not uncommon. Most people wont want their prospective employers contacting their current employers.

As others mentioned, You can obviously send a revised version of the resume' saying the earlier version is older. That is obviously the honest approach. But there is a fairly large difference between already-employed looking-for-work and unemployed looking-for-work. But if you already have the offer, it shouldn't matter I guess ...

The other thing to consider - the recruiter may not have access to the form that you submit to the agency (that is doing the background check). S/he would typically see the result of the check (i.e. Mr X worked for this and this employer, no criminal history etc.) and may not see the gap you are thinking about or even care about it. We may be over thinking this ...
posted by justlooking at 1:54 PM on September 30, 2011


Thinkpiece better articulated what I was trying to say in the last paragraph.
posted by justlooking at 1:56 PM on September 30, 2011


I thought employers would not release the reasons for a job ending to protect themselves in any and all cases against action by past employees. My firm gives out only dates of employment and final salary.
posted by Freedomboy at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2011


I thought employers would not release the reasons for a job ending to protect themselves in any and all cases against action by past employees.

There seems to be this growing conception that this is a general rule, it is certainly a policy with some employers but it is by no means a policy with all employers.
posted by nanojath at 7:25 PM on September 30, 2011


Whenever I was contacted by a background check company (not an HR person doing references, but a company that specifically does background checks) they ALL wanted three pieces of information.

1. Dates (month & year at LEAST, some asked for the day)
2. Salary (usually just ending, sometimes starting as well)
3. Reason for leaving

Will the employer find out about the 6 week discrepancy? Yes, date discrepancy will show up on the report, I've never seen a background report that didn't include the given dates and the confirmed dates. Will they care about a 6 week discrepancy? Who knows, maybe, maybe not.

Your best bet is to go through with it and see what happens. The worst that is going to happen is you don't get the job but there is still a good chance you will. If you withdraw now you definitely won't so what's the harm?

And finally: People, stop lying about stupid shit. We don't care about stupid shit, we care about lying.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


However, I was definitely asked the question, "Why are you leaving Widgets, Inc.?", and I didn't mention that I'd already left.

What did you say in answer to that question? Because anything other than "I already left" was flat out lying to them in person, and yeah that will make them rescind the job offer. The CV thing may have been able to be fudged over but not a lie in the interview.

There's not much you can do about it now. Coming clean will most likely lose you the job (because of the lying, not because you left your job or whatever) so you pretty much just have to sit tight and hope they don't find out. If you're asked again a direct question relating to the whole thing don't lie again though, because that's just going to make it worse in the long run.

People, stop lying about stupid shit. We don't care about stupid shit, we care about lying.

Quoted for emphasis. Knowingly submitting an incorrect CV is just always always a stupid thing to do because lying during the hiring process is up around the top of the list of things that will stop you getting, or keeping, a job.
posted by shelleycat at 1:40 AM on October 1, 2011


Hey all, thanks for the good advice. I definitely wish I'd put the correct end date for Widgets, Inc. on my resume. Won't be making the same mistake again.

I guess all there is to do now is wait it out.
posted by Sloop John B at 10:21 AM on October 3, 2011


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