The Danger of Employment Embellishment

handshake_moneyAs the managing partner of an executive search firm in Miami Beach, my experience has taught me there are six major factors that candidates seek when considering a career change. None of these factors necessarily rank more important than the other, but are merely personal and circumstantial preferences for each individual job seeker:

  1. New challenge
  2. Better location
  3. Career advancement
  4. Desire to make more money
  5. Better quality of coworkers
  6. Job security

For this post, I’ll focus on one particular motivational factor: MONEY! It’s surely not the heaviest item, but it can definitely carry a lot of weight, and sometimes can lead job seekers astray.

Say you’ve located a great candidate, who has been through various interviews and finally accepted by your client for a long-term assignment — or permanent placement position. Most companies will make any job offer contingent on the candidate’s background check clearing, any applicable drug screen results, and the employee verification clearing. Employee verification allows your potential employer to reach out to you past employer(s) and obtain the following information:

  • Did you work there?
  • For how long did you work there?
  • What was your job title?
  • What was your salary?

But your candidate had inflated his prior salary when completing his Pre-Employment form. Candidates feel the need to embellish this number for 1 of 2 reasons.

  1. Candidates assume that fabricating a higher number here will justify the larger salary they are inline to receive or negotiate for.
  2. Candidates are looking to push the offered salary to a higher number and strategize that “claiming” they make more money than they do will be the catalyst in pushing that number up.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Rating sources of free salary and wage information

It’s a fairly common psychology, but (for the most part), it’s WRONG. And candidates need to understand why:

  1. Companies have a budget for open roles and most likely they are going to stick closely to it (yes, there are exceptions, but I’m speaking generally). It’s rare to see exceptions for LARGE amounts of money.
  2. Earning less money doesn’t correlate with you being worth less money. Your resume and interviews do the talking for you. If you’re worth the money and it’s in the budget, they will offer the salary (regardless of where you are coming from).

But making such a claim comes at a cost. Self-sabotage, as I refer to it. You both lose immediate credibility when the first step forward you take is one of mistrust. I’ve seen multiple job offers yanked off the table after uncovering candidates aren’t telling the truth about their former salary.

So encourage your candidates to be themselves, be confident in the work experience they bring to the potential employer, and most important, be honest. They are worth that much!

MORE: The fastest-growing, good-paying temp jobs in 2014


Michael Eisenstadt

Michael Eisenstadt
Michael Eisenstadt, managing partner and founder of Michael Greg Search Group Inc., is based in Miami Beach, FL.

Michael Eisenstadt

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