So I just received a job offer from a small-to-mid sized company.

I signed the acceptance letter and accepted the background check, but checked a "No" for may we contact your current employer.

I lied a few months, adding 4 months to my current job and removing 4 months from my previous job (I pushed back my start date at my current employer by 4 months)

Will this be a big issue? I worked for about 1 year and 10 mos at my previous employer but only 5 months at my present employer, which raises flags if I'm leaving so early. It's just not a great job, but with the little experience at the current job I probably would have been passed up. Will this be a huge deal? Will they find out? Please advise, thanks! (I checked "No" for contacting current employer, but they can still contact my previous employer and see the difference in employment history.

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    It's a very big red flag. As a hiring manager, I immediately wonder what else are you hiding? – Jane S Sep 22 '15 at 23:43
  • They're using an external service for the background check, so it's not internal. That's probably worse since I know they wont be lazy about it since they are paying another company to do it. Aside from that my background is solid, just lied by 4 months – user42305 Sep 22 '15 at 23:46
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    "background is solid, just lied by 4 months" - If it's "just" 4 months, that raises the question of why lie in the first place. It's just means that you're in a bad situation now because of it. I guess it's possible that a 4 month difference might have been the tipping point between "no hire" and "hire", but just imagine what a lie will do to your credibility. – Brandin Sep 23 '15 at 7:56
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    Call them, tell them you noticed you made a copy-and-paste error, put it right. A little white lie to make up for the real lie. – RedSonja Sep 23 '15 at 8:05
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    @RedSonja If you want to do this, you don't have to make up more lies to cover for your previous lies. Just keep it factual without using the word "lie". Just begin by saying that you supplied incorrect information and want to correct the record. But be prepared to give an honest explanation if they ask the reason for the discrepancy (and don't claim it was a copy/paste error!). – Brandin Sep 23 '15 at 8:30

At this stage, if you want to minimise the damage, you need to come clean now.

The discrepancy will almost certainly be uncovered during the external service doing the background check, and if it comes through from them rather than directly from you then the chances of your retaining your offer sits at zero. As a hiring manager, I would be immediately wondering what else you are hiding. For example, do you really have the qualifications your claim?

Contact the organisation now. This very minute. Explain the discrepancy, apologise and hope. I would say that you have virtually no chance of keeping your offer, but it's still higher than if your prospective employer finds it out second hand.

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    Tax records will also tell the company exactly when you stopped which job and when you started the new job, unless you and your company didn't file any taxes, then you have other problems to worry about. – Nelson Sep 23 '15 at 5:27
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    This is honestly terrible advice. It's just moralising without any actual benefits to the OP. – Davor Sep 23 '15 at 8:23
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    @Davor OP made a mistake by lying. Now the situation will get hard for him when his soon-to-be employer finds out, and he will eventually find out. The advice puts emphasis on "don't lie next time" and "be honest" side, since that's what OP lacks in the first place. – MatthewRock Sep 23 '15 at 10:12
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    @Nelson, I used to run my own company (here in the US), and only submitted data to the IRS and state. I never received data back. Does your country provide any tax records (regarding prior employment) back to employers? – donjuedo Sep 23 '15 at 11:14
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    Let me play the devil's advocate here for a bit. Discrepancy detection does not automatically result in hitting the "No hire" button. For all it's worth the candidate might have made an honest mistake when submitting the application. Certainly if OP comes clean now, it minimizes the maximum amount of damage that can be inflicted upon him, but that does not necessarily minimize the overall damage that OP can receive. All in all OP should have been informed that not coming clean is more risky than not. I feel like you being a hiring manager has let some unintentional bias creep into your answer. – Ceiling Gecko Sep 23 '15 at 11:50

Simple fact: explaining why you are leaving a job after only five months is easier than explaining why you lied about how long you were at your previous jobs. (I'm also not sure that 1yr6mth + 9mth is any better than 1yr10mth + 5mth).

They will find out - when they talk to your previous employer and find out you worked there four months longer than you said you did (you only told them they couldn't talk to your current employer).

And as Jane points out in her comment - once they find out about that discrepancy they will start to wondering what else you misrepresented. Again, your best chance is to come clean before they complete their checks - but I think you may have already muddied your reputation with this prospective employer.

Make sure you learn from it, and remember to always be honest in the future.

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    nope you just made a mistake, learn from it, good luck – Kilisi Sep 23 '15 at 0:38

Whether they find out or not will depend on whether the background check involves verifying prior employment. If they do a basic check of your prior employment, they'll notice the discrepancy. If that happens, it will be a much bigger deal than a 5 month vs. a 9 month stay at your current job.

Hiring managers generally consider it a very big deal when a candidate lies to them. Lots of them would immediately revoke an offer if they believe the candidate lied-- if they can't trust your resume, they can't trust any explanation you'd offer. Those that don't revoke the offer will assume that you are trying to cover up something really substantial.

It's really silly to lie about this because it means so little. I am hard pressed to imagine many situation where a candidate whose last two jobs lasted 22 months and 5 months would be at a serious disadvantage to one whose last two jobs lasted 18 months and 9 months. If anything, I'd tend to expect the first to be slightly advantageous-- everyone can sympathize with a new job that just didn't work out like you had hoped. The latter makes it look much more like you're a job hopper that isn't going to stick around much past a year.

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Apply for other jobs, and tell the truth, lying is both unprofessional and dangerous. Any company that would take a liar on board is not worth working for. Purely my opinion though, since others are talking about damage control, while I believe it's just throwing mud over something worse.

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Continue to lie. Cross your fingers and hope you haven't messed up your life too badly.

Any organisation that would keep you on after this is not somewhere you would want to work.

If you confess, your chance of keeping this job offer is 0%, if you keep lying, you probably have a 1% chance of getting to start the job.

Of course, chances are it will come up later, and you will be fired in your first year at this job once it is found out, but hey, if that happens you can just lie about it on your resume for your next job so it's no big deal.

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  • "Any organisation that would keep you on after this is not somewhere you would want to work." Really? I expect that there are at least some organizations that 1. Care more about actual ability than what the resume says and 2. Appreciate honesty. – jamesdlin Sep 23 '15 at 8:16
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    I really hope this answer is sarcastic. Trouble is, sarcasm doesn't come over very well in writing. – Andrew Leach Sep 23 '15 at 10:08
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    Wow, that's one of the worst answers I could imagine. "Go on, get a job, and then get fired with no chance of the of the employer recommending you, but hey, it happens, just lie more so they fire you again"... – MatthewRock Sep 23 '15 at 10:15
  • The question is country, culture and industry dependent. Morality aside for a moment, there's a fair chance that the employer won't pick up on the discrepancy. It's dishonest, but this is a valid answer. – Prinsig Sep 23 '15 at 10:38
  • So my answrer is not sarcastic in any way at all. I have come to the conclusion that the original post was totally ok with acting immorally and had no conscience, so of course, this question should probably be closed as too specific - the advice here is unlikely to help anyone else. @Jamesdlin, I love how you describe lying, and then only coming clean when you are about to get caught as 'honesty'. Would you really hire someone who lies for personal advantage, and only tells the truth if they get caught by their lie? – Scott Sep 23 '15 at 22:08

As explained by others, you messed up when you lied about your employment dates. This is going to come up in the background check. So, like what Jane S wrote, you need to come clean.

You might be able to save face by, as suggested by RedSonja in the comments to the question, call them up and explain that you made an honest mistake. A white lie isn't ideal, and the company may or may not rescind their offer, but contacting them yourself and pointing out an error is a lot less damaging than them finding out and then starting to ask questions about it.

It's better if they think that you made an honest copy-and-paste or similar error, than that they think that you deliberately tried to pass off something that wasn't true.

And of course, if they come across this question, chances are they will be able to put two and two together and figure out exactly who you are. Which only strengthens the case for whichever way you do it, you need to take action now, before they ask questions.

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