True lies

True Lies Image ahmed-saffu-201120-2

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I have been in recruitment for going on sixteen years and I have always lived by the axiom that ’I believe what you tell me’. Fortunately, for the most part, I have dealt with straight up, honest people with a strong sense of self. However, there have been some incidences where I have been bowled over by the lengths someone will go to twist, hide or otherwise misrepresent the truth during the hiring process. This just does not affect recruiters but anyone involved in the hiring of staff.

Everyone lies. Fact.

I am not talking about those little white lies that people tell every day but more so the lies regarding…

  • Work experience
  • Salary
  • Job responsibilities
  • Educational credentials
  • Reason for leaving a company/role


Let me preface this by saying that this is in no way a diatribe that condemns lying on moralistic grounds, rather a heartfelt plea to candidates that the truth is the truth and is always the best approach. If the truth costs you an opportunity then so be it. You cannot, no matter how hard you try, change the truth. It is – like gravity – undisputable. Some will tell you that truth is perception but when we are talking about hard facts that are a non-starter.

I recently experienced one of the worst examples of this I have ever seen. This candidate lied about everything. I wanted to believe them because they were charming, polished with a great resume and had top-notch education, and at first, I did, but as the offer got closer things started to unravel. The time invested by our firm, the client and indeed the candidate was significant. And at the end, it amounted to a complete waste of time. Not to mention the mild resentment of being duped.

As mentioned above, there are several areas that we see the most frequent occurrences of misrepresentation:

  1. CompensationAs recruiters, we are responsible for representing a candidate in a transparent way. We will look to secure you the best offer we can. It helps to know the facts. There are some things that are more evasive like asking for T4s or a sales report. I will not, as a rule, do that. Generally, compensation is dependent on experience, internal equity, budget, and market value. If what you are looking for meets those criteria, it is reasonable. We get it, sometimes a candidate is underpaid. As experts, recruiters should be able to assess this. Your transparency in this area will help.
  2. Education /DesignationsIn is a common belief that if the job description calls for a certain degree and or designation only candidates with these will be considered. That is sometimes the case, but not always. Experience and skills can trump education.   There are certain roles that require a specific educational designation or certification. For example, a P.ENG is required for signing document and stamping drawings. Not having the appropriate designation can be potentially embarrassing for the employer as a best-case scenario or a criminal investigation as a worst-case scenario.
  3. ResponsibilitiesThere is a big difference between being responsible for the creation and management of a departmental budget and assisting in its creation and management. Being honest about ones responsibilities will ensure that the expectations of your experience going in are reasonable.
  4. Reasons for leaving a companyThis is a tough one. There are times when one’s departure is under less than auspicious circumstances for various reasons. This can be a complex issue and it is imperative that your recruiter understands the circumstances around your departure for each of your roles. They can then assist you in formulating our response in a professional manner.

I do not want to live in a world where we fact check everything a candidate tells us but as good custodians of our reputation and the well-being of our client companies, we must.

Often recruiters pride themselves on being able to sniff out inconsistencies and half-truths but there is no substitute for checking the facts.

Be sure to fact check the 3 following areas in the initial hiring process: 

  1. Make sure your references are thorough and that you a speaking to the right people.
  2. Check educational backgrounds.
  3. Ask about compensation several times in several different ways.

This is not just reserved for recruiters but for anyone in a position to hire.

Better to unearth a lie early than have it impact your business or that of your client in a negative way. Misrepresentation of experience, educational background or salary is never worth the potential fallout or loss of trust. Let’s just own our reality and go from there.


Sibby Dunlop
Director, Buildings Solutions

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