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I joined a company in India two months ago as my first job. I was pulled into my current project within a month. I am comfortable working as a shadow for the project.

Recently I - as well as others with 1-2 years of experience - were asked to prepare our resumes which were to be sent to clients for acquiring new projects. Even though it has been just 2 months, I was asked to showcase myself as a developer of 2 years of experience. I promptly said I cannot do that. They accepted it, but then submitted my resume to the client anyway, not only as a developer of 2 years of experience but also with fake projects that I had never worked on. They told me this is how other companies also work and there is nothing wrong in "pumping up" the resume.

I again went to the HR and said I can't be a part of this process, as my conscience does not allow me to do that. They were polite and accepted my reasons. But I could see that they are really not happy with what I did.

I have just started my career and am not sure what will be the consequence of my decision. I am willing to lose this job instead of faking my resume.

Has anyone been in this situation? How did things go when you refused to do such kind of unethical activities? Did you get punished indirectly? Is it a common practice in all companies?

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    Hi, and welcome to workplace.SE. I made some minor changes to your question for readability. Feel free to re-edit if anything is wrong. – sleske May 23 at 10:20
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    Hi Neil, in my profession (urban planning), where I have worked in S Asia and also Middle East, as a client we can tell often when there's clearly lies in the resumes. We rejected them, and I recommend you avail yourself of this company if you're comfortable doing so. – Mikey May 23 at 14:40
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    After looking at the questions listed as "Related", I think these may be the ones I was thinking of: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/103938/… workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/17052/… – Acccumulation May 23 at 18:26
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    Did you ask for a raise? After all, you got almost 2 years more experience since you've been hired. – Nyos May 23 at 21:21
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    I just wanna say: This sort of thing is super common worldwide for any consultancy company, be that a small shop or the bigger international ones. – cbll May 24 at 11:01
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TL;DR - Get out, soon.

Did anyone has been in this situation?

A very close friend of mine.

How things went by when you refused to do such kind of unethical activities? Did you get punished indirectly?

Things did not turn out to be good for him, he faced lots of internal push-back next, when he refused to take part in this unethical wrongdoing. Finally he chose to move on, where some others chose to be a part of the nuisance.

Today, my friend is happy and successful. The others whom he left behind, some of them had to drop their careers in IT/Software, and some are still struggling (yes, after 10+ years).

Is it a common practice in all companies?

Not at all. Apart from the aforesaid case, I've never heard of an organisation asking employees to fake resumes to showcase capabilities to client - it's unethical at best, illegal at worst.

Given the scenario above, it's a red-flag enough for you.

The worst thing that can happen to you is for you to choose not to leave and the company to choose to keep you - that will most likely lead you to the end of your career.

I repeat: get out, soon.

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    I disagree with "soon", but it depends on how you define it. Too soon and it will look like OP was dismissed, couldn't perform, or is a job-hopper. But otherwise, yes, another well written, advice laden answer. [In this case, I would suggest "soon" is 12-18 months as its a first(?) job]. – Justin May 23 at 7:55
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    @Justin Well, I won't advise that. This is clearly something wrong, and something that should not be tolerated. Actually, in can work in favor of you, if you can showcase the fact that you chose to take a step towards correct / ethical actions by leaving the job. – Sourav Ghosh May 23 at 8:03
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    @Justin: Staying that has risks of its own - what if the fraud is detected, and OP is caught up in the fallout? I would rather leave sooner. – sleske May 23 at 10:22
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    I would say at the very least start looking for jobs asap (and consider just leaving if you have the means). Changing one job after a short period isn't going to give you a reputation of being a "job hopper" (changing 4 or 5 in a short time might, but one is acceptable, there is always a chance that a job just isn't a good fit). Meanwhile, as Souvrash said elsewhere, try to document your opposition (if you have email evidence for instance, try to keep copies), that way if there is a fraud investigation, you can demonstrate your opposition to what they were doing. – delinear May 23 at 12:48
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    I'd have to disagree with the "red flag" comment. A red flag is simply a notification that something is not right. The OP's situation is way past that and into the "show stopper" category. A red flag was them lying about the resume. If they would have changed their game at that point, it would have just stayed a red flag. Jobs can have a couple red flags before they need to be left. Since they continued their path, it's time to get out now, as you said. Depending on the local laws, it might be worth reporting to the proper authorities. – computercarguy May 23 at 16:40
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This is definitely not a common practice for all companies.

It's also a gigantic red flag for your future working conditions - if they're prepared to lie to their clients like that, then how can you trust anything they say to you?

This is an employer you should leave as soon as you can line up a new job, and never look back at. Don't get caught up in their lack of ethics, and don't let yourself become taught/tainted by them.

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    Yes - plan to leave, but on your terms. If you're uncomfortable with what they're doing now, you'll feel worse later. If you can stand it for 12-18 months, just use them to get experience and move on when you're ready. Try and work on as many different projects as possible so your CV "padding" is at least genuine. And as @nick012000 said in a comment, document everything. – Justin May 23 at 7:51
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    @Justin I think 12-18 months might be too long. The OP was able to spot that THIS is not a normal practice, but who knows how many other substandard practices might be harder to spot, and learned as normal by a fresh graduate. Write off the time there and leave as soon as possible IMO. Of course if it takes 12-18 months to actually find a new job to leave for then that's a different, unfortunate, story. – Player One May 23 at 7:56
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    @Justin You have written the same advice as a comment on both the current answers. Please write it as an a separate answer so that the community can vote as to whether it is a good answer or not. – Martin Bonner supports Monica May 23 at 14:53
  • @Justin if you feel that's the correct answer, please post it as an answer instead of comments on multiple answers – Kat May 23 at 19:14
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I 100% agree with the other answers that you need to seek another job immediately and distance yourself from this employer. Additionally, make sure that you have a paper trail for your conduct in this matter. If you haven't already, email HR and your boss with a follow-up email about your refusal to lie on your resume, and print this conversation and any following conversations to keep at home.

The reason this is so important is that if this company gets caught in their lies, it is very likely that they will try to put the blame on you and claim that they "had no idea" that you had lied on your resume. You need hard evidence within your control that you had nothing to do with this and that you were against this from the start.

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    I agree that a paper trail is needed, though it could be tricky. Since they've shown that they are extremely unethical (and willing to potentially commit crimes), it's not hard to imagine that they might try to make OP a scape-goat, and could even turn attempts at OP's self-protection around on OP. Basically I wouldn't show my hand too early; you want to be ready to leave immediately before doing anything that makes them feel at risk for being reported to authorities for fraud or they might throw you under the bus before you have a chance to do anything to avoid it. So use extreme caution – bob May 23 at 18:28
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The practice may be what they plan to do but you should not. Get Out As Soon as Possible.

I had an interview with a principle client along with a member of my new consulting company. Before meeting the consulting employee handed me the resume they were submitting. It would certainly get the job but was most inaccurate about my background and abilities. I spoke to them very sharply about putting me in this position, in the next few minutes, and told them if they did not make corrections in the meeting I would not hesitate doing so. They made apologetic noises but did not want to spoil the possible contract. They kept lying all through the meeting eventually getting me an offer I had to turn down.

The company's job is to get you work. They cannot do that by lying or cheating or else you will be in an impossible position. You must find and move to another job without delay. If you stay you will still be depending on their dishonest methods of staying in business.

I once ended up briefly in a job where it was clear I was not qualified and did not belong. I can tell you with certainty that you must avoid this at all costs. It leaves you with time on your resume that is not useful as a description of your career. Your patience in being in the wrong place is not a virtue. Make plans to leave.

8

Welcome to the industry Neil. I am glad that you care about ethics.

Unfortunately, there are many service companies that do this. Not just in India but also in the US. Sad but true. Clients often don't care either though they are most likely aware.

If you are into software/CS, consider joining a product development company or startup. It looks like you are in India. There are many engineering companies/young startups doing exciting stuff in Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai. There are also many companies that are into finance/business that hire engineers in the Mumbai/Delhi NCR area.

Do consider one of the above.

All the best.

6

I am in Indian IT for 10+ years and this answer is based on that experience.

Is it a common practice in all companies?

Yes to some extent. Some consulting (not all) companies and developers working at those companies are pumping up resumes either by the employee themselves or as per the demand from managers. But this is limited to below.

  • Adding some more relevant technologies in which you have some idea about or have the basic confidence like 'I/He can deliver in this technology' or ' I/He can manage'.

  • Actually have working experience in X version of the technology and mention in resume as X+1 version of the same technology.

  • Actually he working in that technology for X years, but mention as X+1 or X+2 years.

I never heard of below.

  • Pumping up number of years of overall experience by the employer.
  • Mentioning a technology which is completely new / not aware of..

How things went by when you refused to do such kind of unethical activities? Did you get punished indirectly?

You will be punished indirectly,

  • by giving lower ratings in year end appraisals

  • refuse/delay benefits such as promotion, onsite etc.

I would suggest to run away from this company as fast as you can.

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I have heard that they do this quite frequently at consultancies, in fact a friend of mine works for PWC and the resumes managers sent to clients were definitely overselling to the point of them being basically works of fiction.

My biggest conflict in this situation would be how it makes you feel – if you feel too pressured or even completely out of your depth, then that is bad. If however you are confident you can ramp up and deliver then it's just an ethical question.

As a closing thought, think about all the superfluous requirements most job listings have.

1

I have faced this twice. The company was a horrible place, a bodyshop, and it ended up all badly. But there was no HR etc to report to. The whole company was in the game and I couldn't get out because of a bond. The first client interview ended in a rejection. The second time they asked me to fake it at an interview, the situation was a bit different. To keep it short: I was already "removed" from the company. I wasn't allowed to enter the office. I wasn't getting a salary, and they gave me "study material" via a colleague who dropped in at my house. I refused to go and my manager gave me a long talk about "seizing the opportunity". Finally, he thought that I was going because he wasn't ready to listen to me. I just shut off my phone at the appointed day and sat in a friend's room the whole day. They were livid that I didn't go for the interview. In short, the job ended without any notice pay, and I didn't get my experience letter. I was jobless for 1.5 years and had to start again at a near-fresher's salary despite 4 years experience. Do I regret doing it? No. I felt like a slave who had been liberated. The mental agony of being jobless for so long was another matter. I had my parents to fall back on for sustenance. Do you?

Fact is, most Indian outsourcers do this, even the big ones who make a big act about not tolerating unethical practices. The management will give you all these ethics trainings but the middle management is under pressure to get more billings. Nobody will give you anything in writing. Upper management knows it may be happening but looks the other way but if caught they will react with indignation. Even the manager who tells you to fake it will blame you. Finally you will be the fall guy. I have no answer for you. Only sympathy.

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    "not tolerating ethical practices" ... surely you mean the other thing ;-) – smci May 26 at 11:54
  • @smci. Thanks for pointing it out. :-) – DPD May 31 at 3:37
  • Then again, maybe you were right first time round... – smci May 31 at 10:16
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You didn't send the resumes, the company did. That's not your business, nothing you will need to do.

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    Given that it's got his name on it, and could get passed around, how is it not the OP's business? If someone is lying about you, that's always your business. – Curt J. Sampson May 26 at 6:57
  • @CurtJ.Sampson: While I get what you're saying, SmallChess also has a point somewhat: The company could send out a falsified resume as part of a proposal and you wouldn't even know about it. – GreenMatt Jul 14 at 21:19

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