Four common lies employers tell job candidates

You’re not going to be 100% honest during the job search process and the interview. Oh, you won’t lie about the big things, like faking experience, but about little things, like how much you enjoyed working with everyone at your previous job, even though they were all monsters. It’s how the game is played.

And employers sometimes lie too, and it isn’t always about harmless things. Sometimes they don’t really have other options and are just playing by the rules themselves. Again, it’s how the game is played.

Here are four of the more common lies employers might be telling you.

“Of course there are opportunities for advancement!” The reality is that the majority of organizations are more likely to hire externally than promote internally, and according to research I conducted with a colleague a few years ago, more than 80% of workers have to leave their current company in order to move up the ladder. But if you ask during the interview whether there are opportunities for advancement, the hiring manager is going to tell you that there are, even if there aren’t. Because they know nobody is going to want a job with no growth opportunity.

“It’s a great workplace culture.” It might be great. Some places truly are. But it’s probably just like any other workplace culture, with some cool people and some not so cool people, where they host the odd barbecue or ping pong tournament and make you participate in quarterly team building exercises and town halls when you’d rather be home with your kids or hanging out with your friends. But they have to tell candidates it’s super awesome, especially if you ask because hiring is all about employer branding and “culture.” They can’t say anything negative about their employer, like “This place is sucking the life out of me, and the senior management team are all vampires. Please help me…”

 “We’ll keep your resume on file for future positions.” No, they won’t. If you don’t get the job, you’ll be pretty much out of sight out of mind. Employers tell you this to soften the blow of rejection, so you won’t get mad at them. When it comes time to hire for a new role, they’re not going to go looking at old applications. They’re going to solicit new ones. When was the last time an employer called you a year after you submitted an application and said, “Hey, remember me? I interviewed you for a job last year and you didn’t get it. Well, a new job has just come up that I think you’re perfect for. You want it?” Never? I thought so.

“We’ll let you know either way.” Why they even bother with this one is a mystery, since we all know it isn’t always true. They may intend to get back to you. Their intentions are probably good. But haven’t we all been left hanging by more employers then we’ve actually heard from after the interview? You’re still waiting for a call three weeks later, meanwhile, the company already has someone else all set up at a desk and hasn’t bothered to let you know. Of course, they probably meant to follow up with you, and they just don’t get around to it. People are busy. But it’s still annoying. (It’s equally as annoying, by the way, when applicants ghost employers, which is becoming increasingly common). Unfortunately, if you don’t get the job you probably won’t hear from them ever again.

Of course, there are also those employers out there who do follow up with candidates and are 100% straight with you throughout the hiring process. Let’s hope you encounter one of those.

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