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Summary: I lied on a job application, saying I've worked at last job for a year when I worked there for a month. I would like to correct that in order to avoid bad background check. What is the professional way to fix this?


I've been struggling to find employment since Jan. 2023, and with some financial worries, I've become desperate to find something, so I made the poor decision of lying that I've been at my last job all the way until the present when I was only there for a little more than a month. I also worded too much in my only final round interview I had for this one prospective job (one that I honestly maybe have a chance with) that I'm still there. It is the only lie on my resume, and I wrongfully convinced myself that getting an interview or two with this would improve my chances. I understand it's wrong. I'm going through a lot right now and did something to dig myself in a hole.

I've been reading as much as I can about background checks and the posts here. It's clear I just need to be honest about my employment history as early as possible long before they even check me and accept that I'm probably losing that place and everyone there probably will hate the image I presented. And also to be honest on my resume. I am looking for help on two things.

  1. How to word such a miserable email to, say, the recruiter? I also maybe can find the email of the main director I spoke to. Should I apologize heavily or pretend it was a mistake (which probably is not defensible at all)? A few of the people said I had really good skills and it just breaks my heart to think I ruined one of my best chances.
  2. Advice and maybe some encouragement to keep going, as this has completely destroyed all the confidence I have in myself?
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    What is your actual situation now, did you pass the final interview? Did they ask, or said they will want to do background checks? Or is that still all up in the air.
    – Aida Paul
    Jan 5 at 5:41
  • I had the final interview on Monday. They said it would be 1 or 2 weeks to hear back. I have no idea if I passed I just felt really good about it and their feedback... and it really hurts me to think about ruining what I had. I'm sorry it wasn't clear. I posted in part because I was really scared I might need to admit really early, but it's probably hopeless Jan 5 at 5:54
  • And did they say there will be a background or reference check?
    – Aida Paul
    Jan 5 at 5:56
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    @AidaPaul: this IMO is terrible advice. If OP is lucky they don't find out now. But this will keep hanging over the OP forever (which is NOT helping with anxiety). It they find out later the OP will be fired for cause, blacklisted, and ends up with a tarnished reputation. This will make it MUCH harder to find another job in the future. Fessing up now is the best option: Even if it kills this opportunity, OP has much cleaner and easier path going forward.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 5 at 14:49
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    @embarassed-throwaway: here is a cautionary tale where lying on the resume destroyed a successful career 28 year later: thecrimson.com/article/2007/4/26/… . Don't do it. You don't want to live with that sword over your head for the rest of your professional life. Fess up and clean it up now.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 5 at 14:50

3 Answers 3

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How to word such a miserable email to, say, the recruiter? I also maybe can find the email of the main director I spoke to. Should I apologize heavily or pretend it was a mistake (which probably is not defensible at all)? A few of the people said I had really good skills and it just breaks my heart to think I ruined one of my best chances.

Simply let the recruiter know that the dates you provided were incorrect.

Something like "In looking over my application I realize that I provided an incorrect end date for my last job. That job actually ended on XXXX" should suffice. No need to expand on that.

Advice and maybe some encouragement to keep going, as this has completely destroyed all the confidence I have in myself?

You know that obtaining a job will go a long way in bolstering your confidence. Keep going.

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so I made the poor decision of lying that I've been at my last job all the way until the present when I was only there for a little more than a month

If you get caught in the background check you will most likely be fired but you should feel zero remorse over this because it's well-known that companies are consistently unenthical towards their employees. At this moment thousands of engineers with decades of doing the right thing and advancing in the ratrace were sacked.

What you did is not unethical and I'm willing to argue against anyone that thinks that it is.

  1. How to word such a miserable email to, say, the recruiter? I also maybe can find the email of the main director I spoke to. Should I apologize heavily or pretend it was a mistake (which probably is not defensible at all)? A few of the people said I had really good skills and it just breaks my heart to think I ruined one of my best chance

Don't, this is unfixable let the background check out you. Don't out yourself because of paranoia.

  1. Advice and maybe some encouragement to keep going, as this has completely destroyed all the confidence I have in myself?

You did nothing wrong. I wish I had done what you did but I was honest and good and now have a big gap in my resume.

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  • Hey man, this looks more like a rant over you being fired and not being able to get a job. It's ok life is hard. Just don't rant in places where you are not supposed to rant.Edit the question to change its tone a little.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Jan 11 at 12:23
  • It's not a rant it's an answer, read it again. @Or4ng3h4t He raised question if it's ethical or not to behave in this way. Jan 11 at 13:59
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    "You did nothing wrong. I wish I had done what you did, but I was honest and good and now have a big gap in my resume." - @CupOfGreenTea How does this not sound like a rant to you ? It seems more like something you regret not doing and are bitter about due to your situation rather than you actual impartial opinion.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Jan 11 at 14:07
  • @Or4ng3h4t It's my subjective experience which is clearly biased as is everyone else's. You may not like my answer but it doesn't mean it's a rant. Jan 11 at 17:19
  • Two wrongs don't make a right... integrity is worth it. If the OP is ok with always wondering if they'll lose the job over the lie, then fine. Take the chance that the employer won't check. My mother (whom I loved) was successful in the 70's building a profession on the foundation of lies and was OK with it. I prefer truth when I look in the mirror. I'd fire someone who lied on their application; how could I trust anything from them?
    – pdtcaskey
    Jan 16 at 14:40
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Go stand in front of the mirror and say "I suffer from anxiety."
Go stand in front of the mirror and say "I suffer from anxiety. It's that bad that it limits my daily life."
Go stand in front of the mirror and say "I suffer from anxiety. It's that bad that it limits my daily life. It goes even that far that I lied during our job interview in order to increase my chances of being hired."
Go stand in front of the mirror and say "I suffer from anxiety. It's that bad that it limits my daily life. It goes even that far that I lied during our job interview in order to increase my chances of being hired. I admit that it was wrong, and I'm giving you the choice: either both accept I lied and we just move on, or you decide to fire me for it, by which all experience I gained here will be lost. Do you want that?"
(You might need to do that several times, learning to cope with the situation that what comes out of your mouth can be different than what you aim to say, due to your anxiety.)

Once you more or less master this, you can decide whether or not to actually say this. (The fact that you trained this is in no way an obligation to do it.)

Oh: if ever you feel you must say this, let me give you this example: when doing a previous job interview, I needed to explain ten abbreviations and there were six I didn't know. The recruiter (the boss of the company) left me alone for some minutes, I looked up two abbreviations on my smartphone and got the job. I never told this to that boss and I'm still proud having managed getting a job in a naughty way :-)

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  • Can anybody explain me what's wrong with helping someone to overcome his or her anxiety issues?
    – Dominique
    Jan 9 at 7:02
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    Why you got downvoted: Your answer has little to do with the question - it's entirely related to a side note in the question (anxiety). Personally, I also find the approach questionable, but if it works for you, great
    – bytepusher
    Jan 10 at 20:24
  • @bytepusher: is the anxiety just a side note? I personally have (had) an anxiety disorder and the situation, described by the author, is very similar to mine. In case of such a situation, first you need to tackle that, and only when this is done, you can move on doing job interviews, ...
    – Dominique
    Jan 11 at 8:57
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    The headline states "help me deal with the anxiety", so it is definitely more than a side note which this answer does address Jan 12 at 10:20
  • @DavidLindon: thanks. At least one person who seems to understand the seriousness of such a disorder. I guess you're the one who has upvoted my answer?
    – Dominique
    Jan 12 at 10:24

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