Misrepresentation and the Ethical Decision to “Embellish”
Applying for a job is one of the most challenging processes most adults have to undertake. It generally requires an individual to display his or her best qualities in order to create a lasting impression that would make an employer convinced that he or she is right and qualified for the desired job. However, there are times when people get desperate for a job, its high-paying salary, and benefits that misrepresentation in job applications takes place. This is a common practice experienced by employers.
This act of false presentation of the self through resumes and personal interviews can theoretically be explained by the psychological idea of establishing a social identity. This social identity that an individual creates is bound to represent him or her in front of the social environment where he or she belongs. In this process of building a social identity or social “self,” an individual creates a concept of a “front” which Erving Goffman describes as one’s representation of performance that can be judged by others depending on the how pleasant and how well-represented the front is (cited in Barnhart, 1994).
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It may include writing falsely about one’s personal job experience (writing better ones even though the person did really have such experiences), about awards and honors, and even about one’s personal identity. One can easily understand the logic behind the practice of misrepresenting oneself with made-up experiences, achievements, and identity—people do this in order to present themselves in the best way possible and obtain their dream job.
However, this act of embellishing one’s resume or profile to make it more appealing to the eyes of the employer also involves several risks. Aside from the possibility that one might get caught immediately and lose the chance of being interviewed, embellishing resumes can also cause him or her to lose his or her job during the time when the person is already working and loving his or her job. In addition to this, misrepresenting oneself may also lead to a damaged reputation (Safani, 2008).
Credibility and honesty are two of the most important values an employer always seeks from job applicants. These values do not just build trust but also assures the employers and the company that their members and staff do not have any tendencies of committing fraudulent acts which can possibly involve the company in the future. Thus, the building of trust and confidence between an employer and a future employee starts in the process of application.
An applicant’s credibility shall be first tested at that moment when the application requirements have been passed and the employer checks on the requirements to know about the applicant. Hence, this is the crucial time to build up one’s self in a legal, truthful way to be able to develop and maintain that confidence and reputation. In turn, this will enhance a person’s employment history which can further help him or her in future job applications