By Alison Green / Ask a Manager
September 16, 2015
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Should I pay a company to create a false work history for my resume? I have been unemployed for nine months now. I am scared that I’ll easily hit the one-year mark, and the financial stress is adding to the psychological pressure, emotional toll, and mental fixation.

I heard there is this company that “closes” your employment gap for a small fee. Basically, you’d be working for a fictitious company in a fictitious location with a fictitious title. I have contacted them and they are legit. Based on my judgment, they are nice and caring and discreet and reliable and professional. Their mission is to help put people back into work. They indicated that during the past few years and since they’ve been in business, they have never been caught even once.

What would you do if you were me?

A: Don’t do that.

Do you want to be the person who falsifies important documents about yourself?

You do not.

And aside from the obvious integrity issues, do you want to spend months or years with the fear hanging over you that it might come out somehow (which would almost certainly result in you losing your job, even if you were good at it, and do pretty serious long-term harm to your reputation)? Do you want to spend years being scared every time your manager or an HR person asks you to meet with them without telling you why?

And there are so, so many ways this could come out. You’re right that most employers won’t insist on getting a reference from your current employer — but what if one of your other references (from your real past jobs) inadvertently outs you by saying something like, “I know he’s been looking for a while now”? Or what if the reference-checker asks one of your real references about your current work and it comes out that way?

That service says they’ve never been caught; I’m skeptical of that claim. And unfortunately, we can’t just take them at their word, because they’re in the business of lying. They are literally professional liars. (And I’m going to disagree with you that they are “nice and caring.” Nice and caring people do not lure you into doing something with such a high risk to yourself and make it seem like it’s no big deal, and they don’t actively work to defraud the people who may be your future coworkers.)

Look, long job searches suck. I know that. But you do not want it to turn you into someone who lies and cheats your way into a job (which, keep in mind, you would be getting at the expense of other candidates who applied honestly), and you don’t want a decision like this to haunt you for years after you find employment again.

Q: Did this company blacklist me? I am a contractor and am in the market every six months or so. I was once at a company where I couldn’t get along with the manager, to the point that we wouldn’t say hello to each other. She didn’t extend my contract and I was out. After that, whenever I applied for an opening in that company, I never got called for an interview. Is it possible that she blacklisted me in th HR database or something?

A: Yes. It’s pretty normal, in fact, to mark people as ineligible for rehire if there are issues with them — and having a poor enough relationship with a manager that you refused to even say hello could definitely qualify as that (even if she was just as much to blame as you).

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

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