Being Honest On A Job Application Cost Me My Chance
Should I have told a white lie just to get my application through the system?
This isn’t a job application, so I’ll be honest: I don’t have three years’ marketing experience. I barely have the year and six months that is on my résumé; I worked as a Marketing Assistant, but I didn’t actually do much marketing. Mostly I emailed people that the company already had established relationships with, filled out spreadsheets, and sent files. Still, I had the title and I did the work, so it’s on my résumé.
But 18 months isn’t 36, so it’s just not enough.
It all started when two positions came open at that company, and I think I only got the email because I’m on my previous boss Marina’s mass email list. So I sent her a message to ask if she thought I would actually be well suited for either one of them, and when she recommended one, I submitted an application.
The problem is, the company is part of the University of Houston, so the application actually went to UH’s Human Resources department, and presumably, from there it would have been forwarded to Marina so she could evaluate the candidates. My application never made it past HR.
The first question was, point-blank, check-yes-or-no, do you have three years of marketing experience?
I don’t. So I checked no.
All the advice I could find says not to lie on a job application, and that just seemed like common sense. I believed what my father had told me before: “They’ll train the right person.” As far as I know he’s been out of the job market for the entirety of my life, so times have changed since then — so maybe I shouldn’t have placed so much faith in this advice. Or, you know, maybe he’s right — and I just wasn’t the right person. But my application never crossed the desk of the one person who should’ve been able to decide whether or not I was right for the job.
After I submitted the application, I emailed Marina to let her know, and I told her about how I’d honestly stated that I don’t have the required three years of experience. I also attached my résumé and cover letter so that she’d have copies whether or not HR forwarded my application.
“You have plenty of experience and shouldn’t play it down,” she replied, and I naively assumed that if the one person who should be able to decide thinks I have plenty of experience, then I should still have a shot.
After several attempts at following up with her, I learned that Human Resources decided I don’t qualify because I don’t have the experience.
Human Resources didn’t look at the fact that the experience I do have came from that company. Human Resources didn’t read the cover letter I wrote, which detailed not only why I believed I’d be suited to the position but also the reasons why I wanted to return to the company: because I believed in their mission and how important it is, and wanted to be a part of that. Human Resources doesn’t care about whether or not you care about the company, which any employee can tell you does affect job performance; they only cared about whether or not I had all the experience. (Never mind that you really can’t get experience unless someone hires you.)
To Marina, I was an employee that she would have liked to have back, because she knew me and she knew what I’m capable of. To HR, I was nothing but another generic application to shuffle through their system.
Do I regret checking the truthful box? I did.*
If I had claimed to have the right amount of experience, maybe HR would have looked more closely at my information and determined for themselves whether or not I do — and while my résumé only lists the year and a half as a “marketing assistant,” my other title of “member services representative” could, perhaps, be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Maybe they would have forwarded my application to Marina, and then she would’ve been able to decide.
Fudging the truth might have gotten me in the door, because the person who would have hired me or not already knew all that she needed to know. And if I was deemed to be the right person, I know she would’ve trained me, because she did when she took me on as an intern.
Yes. It might, and that’s why I told the truth on a job application.
It still cost me.
*I regretted it when I wrote this five days ago. Today, I’m not really regretting it because maybe that closed a door to open one to something even better.