You should treat potential employers like prey. That was the comment the other day from the reader of a New York Times story on long-term unemployment and the lengths people will go to for work these days. In this case, this man said he lied about his background to get a job he knew he could do. He says he is glad he did, because four years later he is rising through the ranks and happily employed. The end justifies the means. Is this adversarial relationship the new norm between employers and potential employees?
There is a sea change going on in the workplace. Due to a number of oft-mentioned factors, such as technology, automation, robotics, immigration, outsourcing, skills gaps and so on, the total number of employed people is shrinking and many jobs are going away that most likely will never return.
With long-term joblessness a new reality for millions of Americans, it stands to reason the bar for getting a job gets higher and higher. This also naturally increases the chances candidates will literally do - or say - anything to get hired.
While numbers show there are about as many people unemployed for short periods today as in pre-recession times, they also show long-term joblessness is up 213% since 2007.
American workers are deeply pessimistic.
Research last year from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that five years after the country's economic downturn started, 60% of U.S. residents think the nation's economy has undergone a permanent change, and nearly a third of those surveyed believe we will never again see the employment levels reached before the recession.
American workers are deeply pessimistic, says Rutgers professor of public policy Carl Van Horn, and Director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.
Against this backdrop of pessimism, should employers expect a certain level of dishonesty from job seekers?
This study from Accu-Screen, Inc., ADP, and The Society of Human Resource Managers, found 53% of those surveyed have falsified a resume or job application, or provided some form of deceptive past employment information.
53% of those surveyed have falsified a resume or job application.
It's not likely to get any better. Almost three-quarters of the college students surveyed said they would "lie on a resume to get the job they want."
You no doubt know there are websites that charge a fee to have their employees pose as past employers for job seekers, and give glowing - and phony - references for jobs that never existed.
Desperate times and desperate measures and all that, but long term unemployment often comes with dire consequences such as poor health, higher rates of suicide, strained family relations, etc. So it stands to reason people will do what they can, whatever they can, to avoid it, or emerge from it.
There are consequences for the country, too, in terms of increased social welfare spending, decreased tax revenue, etc.
Is the plight of the long term unemployed a cultural issue?
One New York Times reader, who works as a senior business analyst at Wells Fargo Securities in St. Louis, asks if the plight of the long term unemployed may in fact be a cultural issue.
"Perhaps we don't offer jobs to the long term unemployed for the same reason we, as a culture, resist extending the social safety net. Because we believe those who suffer misfortune deserve their fate."
That's an interesting question to ponder, but in the meantime, with the situation continuing to worsen for so many un- and under-employed, it's likely reasonable to expect a broadening - and deepening - disconnect between those with jobs to offer and people who desperately want and need work.