Confessions Of A Former Recruiter: How Lying About Your Salary At A Job Interview Can Get You Blacklisted

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Yesterday, the women’s finance site Daily Worth sent around a newsletter lauding a woman who lied about her current salary in order to negotiate for a better salary at a new job. We've been reading about it all day: first in the New York Times, then on Gawker, and now it's about time for us to weigh in. Here's what I think:

…For serious?

If there’s one thing I learned at my time working at a recruiting firm, it’s never to lie to your prospective employer. Did the woman in the Daily Worth anecdote succeed in getting an extra $5,000 bump in her salary at the new place because she lied? She sure did. But, if she had gotten caught, she not only would have had to relinquish the extra salary kickback but would have also certainly LOST the job she just received an offer for. …And that’s the best case scenario. Worst case scenario? She’d be blacklisted not just at that firm but also at other firms in her same industry. ’Cause hey, people talk.

Of course, it would have been optimal if this woman didn’t feel the need to lie because she knew her own worth and could argue based on her own merits rather than through deceit, but that’s not even my bone to pick. Ethical concerns aside, recruiting is a pretty utilitarian business, so the reason we told candidates never to lie  was because it was in their own interest.

Will you be found out the majority of the time? Probably not. But if you are, you’ll rue the day!

Here’s what I mean: We once had a candidate who had an interview set up. The morning of his interview, he called to say that he wasn’t going to be able to make it because he was on a business trip in Spain. He had expected to land in time for the interview, but his plane had just been delayed. He asked to reschedule.

So, we called our client to say that our candidate needed to reschedule. Our client said sure, hung up, and then called us back ten minutes later. “Do you know what airport he’s flying out of?” the client asked. We didn’t. “Well,” our guy’s interviewer said, “I checked, and there aren’t any delayed flights today from Spain to New York. I checked all the international airports in Spain, just in case.”

“Oh,” we replied, feet in mouth.

“Late night drinking, perhaps?” our client continued.

We didn’t know what to say.

“Well, don’t tell him that we’re on to him,” the interviewer said. “I’d rather surprise him in the interview, when he finally comes in, and see what he says. It’ll show us how he acts under pressure. Kinda fun to put him on the spot.”

“Umm.”

Suffice it to say, the candidate—a strong one, too—didn’t get the job. We never submitted him to any of our clients after that, either.

I don’t know what that guy is doing nowadays, but I sure hope he had a fun night on the town.

Please also see the response from Lauren Lyons-Cole, LearnVest's financial planner in residence: Ask And Ye May Very Well Receive.

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