Who says honesty is the best policy?

I DO! 

As a Recruiter with Technical Connections, I talk to and meet a lot of candidates. And I hear all kinds of stories, and see more flip flopping than in a Presidential campaign. Speaking for everyone in our profession (recruiters, account managers, hiring managers, etc), who has ever had to start the interview/hiring process all over again because a candidate was not forthcoming, I plead with all candidates to be up front and honest with us. It will only help you land the job that you want.

We understand why a candidate may not be completely truthful with key information during a job search. In today’s job market, it is understandable that you, the candidate, are seeking the best possible opportunity.  And in turn, a prospective employer is looking for the candidate who is the total package.  It’s hard enough to bring the two together successfully, so why complicate the process (and your chances of getting the job) by being less than honest?

When I talk about being honest, I’m not only referring to compensation expectations and what you have earned in your previous roles.   I’m talking about everything from your skills, to experience, to your commute preferences, company culture, and yes, even compensation. Misleading a recruiter or a client is the quickest way to ruin your chances. Also keep in mind that when conducting a background check, potential employers will have access to a lot of information that can verify your claims.  If you bend the truth, there goes your credibility and possibly the offer!!!

There are a lot of things that you can fudge: Whether or not you are currently working, dates of employment, qualifications, obtained degrees, and whether you were fired from your last job and why.  Even if a background check is not performed, don’t forget that the IT industry is a small world, and word can and will get around. For example, if you mislead us about why you left your last job (or were terminated), and we find out (through a formal reference, a mutual contact, or even a background check), we then cannot trust almost anything you have said. However, chances are if you have a good explanation for leaving your last employer, a new prospective employer will understand.  If they don’t then it’s probably not going to be the best place for you to work anyway.

A difficult subject for recruiters and candidates alike is discussing an issue that may come up in a background check. Many companies require criminal, credit and DMV background checks along with education and employment verification. When we ask candidates if such a check would turn anything up, they are faced with a possible make or break moment. If you are not truthful, and an issue arises during the check, you can pretty much forget an offer. But if you are up front with us, we can do the same with our client and often work out any concerns while still securing an offer.

Perhaps the most typical example is the salary flip flop. During the initial stages of your screening, the subject of compensation will come up. As a candidate, you say one number, but after successfully navigating the interview process and an offer is being discussed, your desired number suddenly jumps $10-20k annually (or the equivalent on an hourly rate). This is a sure fire way to lose your credibility, AND the job offer. Yes, the client may really want you and yes, your skills may be in high demand. And yes, a client may back down and agree to the change. But none of that will do anything to help your professional reputation in the short and long term.

Clearly, most of this is pretty much Interviewing 1O1 and covered in every book and blog posting on how to interview.  Nevertheless, it never hurts to be reminded that for anyone involved in the hiring process, the most important traits are honesty and integrity. These traits, along with a strong sense of ethics and morals not only will serve you well in your job search and professional career, but in your life as well.

-Lynn Bailey – Recruiter @ TCI

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