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I had my first job at a manufacturing company when I was fresh out of university, and worked there for 2 months. I then left due to health reasons and didn't look for work for another 3 months, as I was reviewing my engineering certification examination.

I started a second job in January of this year at a different manufacturing company. However, as I was desperate to land the role, I didn't declare my past experience when I applied, and told them that I never had experience before and was basically just a fresh graduate. Unfortunately, I was busted by an old colleague and the company found out, and as a result of my lie I was forced to resign in May.

I've been looking for another job since then but I am having a very hard time landing one. I am considering omitting one of these two jobs, more specifically the very first one, as I didn't receive any certificate of employment during my leave there and I was only there for two months.

My question is, is it possible to omit this on the job application form? Will this ever be found out under normal circumstances? (I believe the previous case is an outlier)?

I am also thinking of completely wiping out my work history and describe myself as fresh graduate again. I only have a total of 6 and a half months for these two roles. What's the best course of action to get back into work?

  • 3
    I was forced to resign because of the fact that I lied. I told them it was an irrelevant experience to begin with. However, I honestly think that this is an isolated case(they mentioned something that whatever I wrote in the job application form will be the only things to be investigated and not the ones I didn't wrote. – Momo chan Jul 12 at 2:08
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    Are you located on India? The wording on "I didn't receive any certificate of employment " seems to indicate so and it might be relevant to give an answer that fits the local employment culture – llrs Jul 12 at 7:47
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    What according to you is downside of actually mentioning those experiences anyway? What harm it can do? Are you worried you worked at the wrong places or worked for too less time? – PagMax Jul 12 at 9:13
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    No I'm not from India. I'm from the Philippines by the way, and certificate of employment is kind of important here. I'm trying to hide these fact because like I said, by the time employers found out that I have stints in my resume it's always a dead end no matter how good I perform during an interview. I didnt do anything bad at all to my previous employers aside from the fact that I was forced to resigned. And actually admitting that makes no sense to me since in the first place, I was given the chance to remove that record by forced resigning. – Momo chan Jul 12 at 11:51
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    I've been looking for another job since then but I am having a very hard time landing one. Throughout the question and all your comments, you seem to take it for granted that your difficulty in landing another job is specifically, and narrowly, because of these two other jobs. Do you know that for a fact? What caused you to believe that? Have you eliminated or addressed all other possible reasons why you're not getting hired? You mentioned getting calls about jobs that end when the caller finds out about your employment history. How exactly do those conversations go? – dwizum Jul 12 at 19:39
148

There are two things here:

  1. Not listing an employment on the resume. As Twyx said, depending on the wording, this may not be an issue at all.
  2. Saying on your application letter and in interviews that you have never had any experience after college. This is the big one, because this is an actual lie.

If you do choose to omit one or more employers, that's one thing. But you can't lie to your employer. If it should come up, tell them honestly that you did have a job but since you only stayed a couple of months you didn't feel that you gained enough experience for it to be worth mentioning.

Again, not mentioning a job on a resumé is not lying. But outright stating that you had never worked after college, when you actually had, that is a lie.

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    OP doesn't seem to be bothered by lying, so it sounds like it might need to be explicitly stated: Stop lying about your work history! Omit entries when asked for a list if you want, but don't actually say "I never worked for that company!" – Aaron Jul 11 at 19:43
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    @Momochan Omitting things from your resume is normal. I don't put my experience as a library page on my resume, because it isn't relevant. But if someone asks me if I've ever worked at a library, I will say yes, and that the job isn't on my resume because I didn't think it was relevant. It's vitally important to not lie to your employer during an interview. If you don't think your experience is relevant, then you can say "I've done a few months of work in this field, but not enough to get any real experience" and be fine. You should expect to get caught again if you keep lying about your jobs. – DuckTapeAl Jul 12 at 2:25
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    @Momochan Do you understand why you were fired from the second job? Was it for lying, or because of some non-compete clause from your contract? If the issue is that you had short jobs, then not mentioning your experiences on your resume will probably at least get the conversation started. If the problem is something like non-compete, then the companies will likely find it in their background check, and even if they don't, you could find yourself in trouble for entering a company you weren't allowed to – Mars Jul 12 at 5:20
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    @Momochan Employers are usually fine with accepting mistakes you made in the past, as long as you've learned your lesson. It's seems you didn't, since you're talking as if you didn't even understand why lying to your potential employer is a problem. There are many reasons why the employer may need to know your previous employment (e.g. non-compete clauses); and "we found out you're lying" is never going to work out in your favour. This is not just bragging to your friends about something that isn't true - it's a serious deal, and might even mean you're committing an outright crime. – Luaan Jul 12 at 9:33
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    @Momochan In you question you wrote that you "told them that I never had experience before and was basically just a fresh graduate". That is the lie. – Jenny D Jul 12 at 14:29
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This depends on how the job application is worded. If it says Relevant experience or skills then you could potentially leave it out if you wish to have less working experience in your application.

If the application states something along the lines of "List all previous jobs", then you must list previous jobs just to avoid what happened in your second job. It's not worth lying then getting fired further down the line.

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    In the second case you may still have the out of listing certain jobs and explicitly adding (in writing) that you listed all relevant jobs. -- Especially when you get more senior it is reasonable to leave out the time you were flipping burgers, so this addition may not trigger them too much. – Dennis Jaheruddin Jul 12 at 7:55
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    "... List all previous jobs, then you must list..." If it is for a background check, then sure. Otherwise, you need to take the question in context. Any reasonable person can rightly assume the purpose is to make sure you meet minimum experience requirements, so you can just add enough that you think your entry meets such requirements. If you give me a form like that when I apply to your place and I omit my previous job, even if it's relevant, then I have not lied - to state otherwise is merely your opinion, not a fact. If I outright deny that job, that's a different matter. – Aaron Jul 12 at 16:51
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You should select those experiences that best demonstrate your capabilities on your resume - it's okay to leave some jobs or roles out.

However, be sure your employment history is continuous - employers want to see that you've been constantly employed or in school, with perhaps small (<3mo) breaks between jobs. Long stretches of (apparent) unemployment are a red flag and need to be explained.

As an alternative to omitting a job on your resume, you can:

  1. Lump several roles into one, even if at different companies. E.g., "Machinist, Company A, Company B, Company C, 2010-2015".
  2. Don't offer a reference for a past job that you don't want prospective employers to contact.
  3. Provide explanation in a cover letter. Your cover letter is for anything that you feel the recruiter and hiring manager should know about your application - it's the right place to describe why a job was very brief or you have a gap in employment.

Good luck with the job search!

  • I mean, that's my problem though. I still get calls even with my trash resume. However, the moment they knew I had these two stints they leave me off. Sticking with the truth seems like it won't help me in any way either since that what I've been doing for the past 2 months. – Momo chan Jul 12 at 3:55
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    @Momochan Then you need to find a way to turn those stints to something positive, showing that you have learned from them. Sticking with the truth is the right thing to do, but you have probably done it "wrong". – rasan076 Jul 12 at 9:42
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    Long stretches of (apparent) unemployment are a red flag and need to be explained - Please remember that not all long stretches of unemployed are necessarily bad. "I sat on my ass watching Netflix & crunching chips", yea, not good. However: "Went on a back-packing trip around Aussie and through NZ", good. Time spend getting a life back together after a break-up, family events, etc etc, all good. Time spend learning/doing a course, also good. Even if spend not-productively (e.g. "semi-holiday"), that time can be "getting back into a positive frame of mind". It's all in the phrasing. – rkeet Jul 12 at 12:08
  • @rkeet, agreed - my assertion is that unemployment needs to be explained. I agree that an interesting trip is a valid reason to take time away from work, but that reason needs to be very well communicated to a recruiter. – Jay Jul 12 at 12:52
  • @rkeet "I sat on my ass watching Netflix & crunching chips - yea, not good" But remember even that is subjective. If I were hiring someone who said that to me honestly but otherwise looked good, I would not give it a second thought. – Aaron Jul 12 at 16:56
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You suffered the fallacy of "nondisclosure vs. lying".

There's a fundamental difference between not actively volunteering a fact, and lying about the fact when asked. And by the way, this difference gets people banned from countries or charged with obstruction of justice.

You decided not to disclose the earlier work experience -- and decided that very rigidly, with no flexibility. So when you found yourself backed into a corner of "disclose, or lie", you doubled down on "lie" probably because you thought you had been lying all along, so what's the difference?

Well, you hadn't. There is nothing wrong with nondisclosure. You don't need to make a full and complete accounting of yourself to everyone, in fact, they don't wanna hear it. You get to be strategic about disclosures and there's nothing wrong with this. So you were not lying before.

Of course, people know perfectly well that others sometimes non-disclose, and so they press for more information. For instance, they pressed because they saw a date gap and they wanted to know what the story was. In that case you are obliged to deflect the question, tell them you decline to answer, tell them the truth, or flat-out lie.

I would guess that they discovered the non-disclosure behind the scenes, and had already ascertained the true answer before they even asked you the question. Which means the question was a trap. They wanted to see if you would lie about it.

So, don't disclose what you don't want to, but don't lie.

3

IF you have done different works that are totally unrelated with the position one is seeking it's normal to omit them, especially if they were done for a short period. If a software developer had to work in a McDonald for six months between software related work, or a cook had to work in a warehouse for three months, these aren't useful work experience for the main one. I think recruiters aren't actually not interested to know all the experiences one has done, and if asked in an interview one could explain that had a short and unrelated work while waiting a better opportunity.

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    I'm not sure why this was downvoted, but unrelated work should be left off a resume, as a resume is supposed to show why you would be good for the company you are applying for, not just a list of everything you've ever done for anyone. An interviewer will almost definitely ask why there's a gap, which is a good time to explain "needed to pay bills so worked X job". Some of us work contracts and some work in volatile positions/industries, so gaps are sometimes expected and understood. – computercarguy Jul 11 at 20:10
  • Note that in some cases and some industries, some recruiters will assume gaps are likely to mean "incarcerated" or "unemployed and unable to get a job due to poor qualifications" and be less likely to give that candidate a callback compared to another candidate without resume gaps. – WBT Jul 12 at 15:24
  • @computercarguy, what you say is technically true, but bear in mind that only certain cultures use the resumé. Others use the curriculum vitae, which is supposed to be comprehensive. – Peter Taylor Jul 12 at 18:06
  • @PeterTaylor, then I'm glad the US uses a resume instead of a CV. I had to pare down my resume from 6 pages to 4 just last year. With all the day labor jobs and 1-6 month contracts I've had, my CV would probably be 20+ pages. Of course, as a software dev, 90% of that would be worthless info. As it is, I've left 15 years of computer repair tech on my resume to show that I've written scripts during my repair days. If we ever switch to a CV, I'd automatically be lying, since I can't remember all of that stuff anymore from 15+ years ago. – computercarguy Jul 12 at 18:15
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As mentioned by others: in general you can only list relevant jobs, just make sure you are not actually lying about it.

Often this can be avoided with wording, by slipping in things like 'relevant' at the right time.

However, one thing to keep in mind, is that omitting a job will be seen as a lie of omission IF it actually matters for the current job.

Just some examples of when this may happen:

  • The company that you are omitting is somehow related to your new company (e.g. resulting in contractual obligations for the new company, like giving you a fixed contract sooner)
  • The company that you are omitting has active constraints on you (e.g. a noncompete agreement)
  • The company that you are joining requires full disclosure (e.g. for a background/security clearance check)

So in short, do what you can to present yourself favorably, but DO NOT LIE.

1

It is quite unusual to be fired for not disclosing a past work experience. There is a very thin line between "I've never had any work experience" (which is a lie) and "I've never had any significant work experience", which would be a perfectly fine thing to say. Either the people who interviewed you have a perfect memory, or perhaps you have reiterated your claim about having no work experience whatsoever when confronted, or maybe the colleague who "busted" you had something negative to say about you and your lie (even if only technically so) was a good pretext to fire you without disclosing real reasons.

Of course, you have the right to omit any information you want from your resume if you think that information doesn't make your application stronger. There are things you have to tell about (like criminal record when applying to sensitive roles), but in such cases you will be asked do disclose such information directly.

Next time lean to be elusive without resorting to plain lies. I would expect that the next recruiter you meet will ask you about your previous jobs when they see none in your CV, since there was clearly enough time to find a job since your graduation. You have to find an answer to that question which doesn't volunteer the information you'd rather not disclose, but which is nevertheless truthful. Note that there are direct questions where you can only tell the truth or lie (e.g. "who was your last employer?" or "did you work for X?"), to which you have to answer truthfully.

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    Yes, I think you made a good point. I remember now, that I clearly told them that I am a fresh grad and that would be my first job. I think that made the case stronger than it should. So in conclusion, I can get out of saying that experience isn't relevant if the case wasn't asked clearly. – Momo chan Jul 12 at 12:28
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is it possible to omit this on the job application form?

Yes it is possible to omit without lying depending on questions asked and how you word it. Other answers have covered this well.

Will this ever be found out under normal circumstances? (I believe the previous case is an outlier)?

I do not know why you consider previous case as outlier. In this digital age, people are more connected than ever and there are several ways they can find it out however "normal" circumstances are.

In your comment you mentioned you do not want to put these experiences based on some anonymous advice that bad jobs should not be "worn around the neck". This may be true to some extent but I do not completely agree with this especially if I have been caught and fired lying once before for exactly same reason.

Just try to throw a positive spin to this and mention all the learnings (good and bad) from your experience. Explain why you have left early and how you have become more wiser in selection of companies after one bad experience. Everyone makes mistakes. (If at all this can be called as a 'mistake'). Instead of hiding your mistake, show them you own it and have learnt from it.

  • It is an outlier because it just happened out of the blue. It was unintentional, it's just that I happen to bump in with one of my workmate before at my first job and he'd seen me wearing my uniform. He happen to ask about my whereabouts and ended up learning about my new job. That guy probably told my former colleagues and to my luck one of those colleagues happen to know someone from my current job who is in the HR department. Then a short conversation happen between them and the rest is history. See the odds of it happening again right there? – Momo chan Jul 12 at 12:33
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    @Momochan Yes I very much see the odd of happening that again. If not in the exact same way, in some other way. World is too small and too connected. And even if the odds are low, I just don't see a valid reason to take that risk. – PagMax Jul 12 at 12:40
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    @Momochan You now have two past jobs, so you have basically doubled the chance of it happening again. Also, if you are continuing to look in the same industry, it sounds as though people are pretty connected. So it seems like the odds of it happening again are high. You really should think about what your recovery strategy would be if someone found out--and it will be much easier if you have been upfront from the beginning. (It also really seems like someone at your first job does think you hurt them in some way. You should figure that out...) – user3067860 Jul 12 at 20:28

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