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I was sending out job applications and I found my dream job. I have been called in for a third interview at one of the world's biggest companies in my field.

However, while applying for the job, I was advised by a recruitment agent to lie about my qualifications and previous work history, which I stupidly did!

  • The first big lie is about my A Level results. I said that I got significantly better results than I actually did. I have a university degree, which I included, but I'm worried that they will check my A Level results.

  • Also, I listed my last job as an internship when it wasn't. I only worked at the company for 6 weeks, and they terminated my contract as they felt that I wasn't the right fit for the job, but they offered to give me a great reference.

I don't want to ruin my reputation and destroy my career because of this stupid mistake.

I want to be honest with them, as I didn't realise how much was untrue on my CV as the recruitment agent wrote it for me, but I know that I need to take responsibility for this.

I feel like the best option for me at this time is to withdraw my application now, before anything goes any further and they begin background checks. However, I really want this job and I don't want to miss out on a big opportunity. Is there any way for me to be honest with them, or resolve the situation without being knocked out of consideration for the job?

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    I was in the middle of writing some advice based on the original version. The new version is too broad, so I am going to vote to close. Note that people with a high enough reputation can read edit history. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 11 '19 at 0:10
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    I'm pretty sure OP is having second thoughts about posting the original question here, and the edit is an attempt to hide it. – ig-dev Dec 11 '19 at 0:10
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  • Even if this question is edited (or maybe it already has been) so that it is not too broad, there are at least six or seven other "I lied on my resume" questions that should have been suggested while the OP was writing this one. – shoover Dec 11 '19 at 17:52
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    FWIW, I've always found with education that only the highest qualification is relevant. My GCSE results became irrelevant after I gained my A-levels. Likewise my A-level results became irrelevant after I gained my BSc. – fubar Dec 11 '19 at 23:04
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If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. There is no ethical way out of the situation except withdrawing the application, or providing a corrected CV with explanation - since you are objectively at fault here. If your explanation and apology is sincere, the employer may even give you a chance and decide to proceed. Any other solution involves more lying, and/or passing on the blame, with continued risk for yourself.

What you did is no longer in the realm of "favorable self-representation", it's in the realm of fraud. There are other parties affected, like the employers, competing applicants, and the agency. It would not be right to support an effort to gain unmerited advantage at the cost of others.

One lie leads to the next, and you always have the truth against you, as you are experiencing right now. Say, for example, you provide a corrected resume and pretend it's the Agency's fault. That there is a discrepancy is now obvious, even without background checks. If followed up, the agency can then demonstrate that you provided false information, in defense of their own reputation.

In the "best" case, you get away with everything, get the job, and build a fantastic carrier - all knowing that it's founded on an initial lie, not your actual accomplishments, and that you might even be found out.

You might not get the job after providing deliberate false information, which is a fair price to pay for this lesson. Better luck next time, stay honest!

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Is there any way for me to be honest with them, or resolve the situation without being knocked out of consideration for the job?

There's an easy way to be honest with them.

Write your own CV, using only truthful information. Give it to the interviewers. If asked, explain the discrepancies. If asked, don't make excuses, admit that it was a stupid mistake, explain that you don't want to ruin your reputation and destroy your career.

Whether that will knock you out of consideration for the job depends on your background, your other attributes, the needs of the hiring company, and the feelings of the interviewers.

What you hopefully have learned from this:

  • Don't lie
  • Don't continue to work with a recruitment agent who advises that you lie
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    "admit that it was a stupid mistake" and "explain that you don't want to ruin your reputation and destroy your career" have quite opposite effects in my opinion. I wouldn't say the latter... – Ring Ø Dec 11 '19 at 2:33
  • @JoeStrazzere you've already ruined your reputation by submitting a fraudulent resume. It's too late now to claim not to want to ruin that reputation... – jwenting Dec 12 '19 at 7:18
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You completely edited your question, which was about a recruitement agency doctoring your CV. Note that anybody who has given a good number of useful answers here can see the original. My advise is to restore it as it was. Note that many people here, including me, could restore your question, but it's better for your reputation to do it yourself.

In this situation, there is nothing that is guaranteed to work. There are things that you can try and hope for the best.

If the CV that arrived at the company was written by the recruitement agency, then one thing that you can do is to write up a CV yourself. In the exact same style as the recruitement agency did, but with all the facts correct (correct while showing you in the best possible light obviously). Then when you get an interview, you hand them your version of your CV when the interview is over, just to make sure that all the facts are correct. If you are confronted with false facts of the recruitement agency's version, you are very surprised and show the true facts in your version of the CV. Be aware that you are throwing the recruitement agency under the bus, and a bit of acting skills may be required.

Or you can just tell them that you cheated in your CV. They will likely say "good that he is honest now, but we don't want a cheater". Not a good strategy. Or you can hope that they don't find out. A-levels might never be checked, and if you hand over a reference from the previous employer, they don't have a reason to mistrust that. It's a strategy that might work. And of course there's the possibility to withdraw your application.

  • Sorry, I reverted the question before I saw that you had edited your answer to suggest that the original poster revert the changes themselves. – Justin Cave Dec 11 '19 at 0:29
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    Passing on the blame to the agency is neither ethical in respect to the employer, competing applicants, or the agency, nor safe. That there is a discrepancy is now obvious, even without background checks, and if followed up, the Agency can demonstrate that OP provided false information. – ig-dev Dec 11 '19 at 1:01
  • @ig-dev I'd say that depends on the circumstance. There's a range of stories that could be described like this. On the one side, a recruiter edited a CV for someone I interviewed and sent it to us, his first notice was when he read an extra copy of the CV because someone printed out one for all interviewers and I already had one. On the other side, you have the guy told to make a few specific edits which he did, then printed it out on his own printer, & volunteered the lie in an interview before they read the CV. The OP sounds like they're somewhere in the gray area between these, but where? – Ed Grimm Dec 11 '19 at 5:23
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    @EdGrimm I lied on my CV ... I was advised by a recruitment agent to lieputs the lying and blame fair and square on OP, don't you think? Who advised you doesn't matter much. I have also been advised by many people to lie about this or that, but if I do or not remains my own responsibility. – ig-dev Dec 11 '19 at 5:30
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    @EdGrimm if a recruiter asked me to lie on my resume I'd tell him I no longer want him to represent me. – jwenting Dec 12 '19 at 7:20
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There is no clear way out of this situation

The internship where you were terminated is something you could have gotten away with because the company was willing to help you there.

The grades you will only get away with if they don’t not check. And frankly, if the recruiter advised you to lie about them, there is a decent chance that they won’t. A guy I met at a conference encouraged me embellish my resume (he would get a referral bonus) since he knew that certain companies didn’t check those elements. Recruiters might know too. On the other hand, they might be fine rolling the dice with your future.

Basically your choices are to withdraw or hope for the best.

If you do get this job, don’t get promoted in the company. Background checks of greater depth often trigger on promotion. You probably want to jump to a new job soon with an honest resume.

Let this be a lesson

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    I agree with the first bit, but I've never heard of an internal promotion needing more background checks? Maybe if you were a politician or CEO, but not for most of us. – Rup Dec 11 '19 at 10:18
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    The last company said they would give him "a great reference" they didn't say "we'll just pretend that this was an internship so that you can explain a 6 week employment period to a future employer." – Brandin Dec 11 '19 at 10:27

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