I am a middle-aged (40+) male and have never worked anything but retail jobs in the distant past. I have been on government benefits for the past 15 years with no work history, but I desperately want to achieve a career and make something of myself.

I know that most of you are going to say go find something entry level but I am way out of college and there is no way I can fool somebody into thinking I am a kid.

I had an idea of filling in work experience on my resume and backing that up with answering services that route to a real phone number that is answered by me or a friend.

How likely would I be caught?

BTW - I have a technical background in engineering, math, computers etc.

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    In many countries claiming to be an engineer, without a degree and/or certifications from a national body is illegal. Because A. engineers messing up can kill people, and B. Engineers are often explicitly mentioned in the laws (Eg certain buildings must be inspected by an engineer, or engineers being allowed to work with mains power without further permit under certain circumstances, etc) – Lyndon White Jul 4 '17 at 2:54
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    They will only check your references after you have been successful in the interview process. When they ask you about the projects you worked on for previous employers, what are you going to say? This is not likely to end well. Entry level does not mean you have to be a kid. Stick with those and see how it goes. – Laconic Droid Jul 4 '17 at 2:56
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    You have a background in engineering, math and computers but you hate intangible tech? Somehow I feel some of the "background" is BS already. And I haven't even interviewed you to get to this conclusion. By the way, any background check will fail at the point where none of the companies you supposedly worked for exists. Yes, you can check registers if they do. – skymningen Jul 4 '17 at 6:23
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    What makes you think "entry level" is for kids? "Entry level" is not about age, it's about skill and experience. If you have entry level skills, then apply for entry level jobs. – nvoigt Jul 4 '17 at 8:03
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    This seems unwise. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Jul 4 '17 at 10:17

you desperately want to achieve a career and make something of yourself

Commendable! Lying on your résumé is not going to help you achieve that, unfortunately.

there is no way I can fool somebody into thinking I am a kid

You won't, true. Luckily you don't need to. "Entry level" doesn't mean the jobs are for young people; they are for anyone entering an industry/field…including people, for instance, in their forties who want to start a new career.

I had an idea…how likely would I be caught?

Super likely. But more importantly, are your aspirations for a career actually going to be fulfilled that way?

Look, you aren't going to just short-circuit the job market and walk into a senior-level job and "make something of yourself." If you want to feel like you are doing something with your life, find something you like to do—maybe it is engineering, maybe not—and try to find a job or internship where you can practice up and learn from people with experience. Go to industry meet-ups and meet people who work in the kinds of jobs you want to have. Be honest about your aspirations and ask good questions. Before you know it, you are networking! And at the very least, you could probably get some good advice about what your next steps should be.

IMHO the last thing you want to do right now is assume you know more than you do and try to "fake it till you make it." That is just going to slow you down and discourage or overwhelm you. Be humble, ask questions, and respect the experience and time of people who have been working in your field for a while. They have a lot of wisdom to share! And nobody's looking down on you, unless you show them disrespect by trying to fool them.

Good luck!

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You can't BS in a technical interview, what you have in your resume doesn't matter. Anybody who knows the field can easily test your knowledge in the first 10-minute of the interview.

If you don't have the skills to even consider for an entry job, you will need to consider other alternatives. Jobs that require less technical skills such as truck driving.

Sorry, that's life.

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So you "desperately want to achieve a career and make something of yourself" which is commendable but if you go through with your proposed plan all you will be "making of yourself" is a liar and a fraud and any "career" you manage to obatin for yourself could come tumbling down at any moment, I couldn't put a figure on how likely you are to get caught (although my gut says pretty likely) but you will be constantly watching over your shoulder worrying about getting caught out and you need to ask yourself if that is really how you want to live?

Instead of looking for ways to pretend you are something you aren't you should be focusing on the positives you have - your age can be a positive for an employer as in theory you'll be more mature/reliable than a "kid" applying for an entry level position. Normally one of the major downsides of hiring someone older for that sort of position is that they often come with a higher salary demand having things like families and mortgages to pay for. If you've been surviving on retail jobs and benefits it sounds like you don't have that sort of higher expectation so they can pay you a normal "kid" wage for an an entry level position but get your maturity and life experience for "free"! So don't be thinking that you need to "fool" anyone into thinking you're a kid, instead play to the fact that you aren't as a strength.

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  • Quite so. In short, the age thing is a total non-issue. Many employers want that stability when hiring for, say, a basic IT-data-esque job. – Fattie Jul 4 '17 at 15:12

How likely are you to get away with it? Hard to say. Mostly it depends on whether you can actually do the job if you get hired. And how skilled you are at pulling off the fraud.

But the big catch is this: If you lie on your resume, and you get caught, you will almost surely be fired immediately. In some cases you could even face criminal charges. If other employers hear about the stunt, there's no way they will hire you. You are taking a huge risk.

You might get away with a small lie on a resume by claiming it was a mistake. But listing a fake company and having a friend pretend to be your former boss? That's very obviously not a careless mistake, but deliberate fraud.

And for what? I doubt many companies will say, "We want to hire a recent college graduate, not someone in his 40s." Companies hire new grads because they're cheaper. Older people are usually considered more settled and responsible. If you're thinking this is a way to get in to a higher paying position than you could get with your real credentials, even if the company doesn't figure out you lied on your resume, they're going to quickly figure out that you're not qualified for the job.

Try the truth. In the long run, it usually works better. Some people get away with bold lies, but not that many.

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  • Look the truth is that there is alot of bold face lying going on all the the time. the stories you hear about some executive being canned for his lies are barely the tip of the iceberg compared to fake stuff that gets passed on. The real deal is that 80% of the workforce is actually redundant and only kept on be because they fit well in a team. i would like you to ask your HR manager if hey have ever caught a liar and fired him. the answer will probably shock you. – john magee Jul 5 '17 at 15:27
  • (shrug) If you've decided you're going to attempt this scam and neither warnings of negative consequences nor moral considerations will dissuade you, I'm not sure why you posted the question. But whatever, I've said my piece. – Jay Jul 5 '17 at 20:34

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