In Defense of Lying on Job Applications


Bob’s Dylan’s lyric, "To live outside the law you must be honest" have long served as my moral inspiration. I am thereby forced to admit that I’m not buying the idea that Merilee Jones, the woman who was the Dean of Admissions at MIT, should be made to run the gauntlet with the likes of Henry Kissinger and Paul Wolfowitz because she lied on her resume thirty years ago when she applied for the job. Maybe I just don’t have the proper amount of respect for our vaunted institutions like MIT in the first place. I don’t consider universities that further the advancement of our beloved State which devotes itself to the continuation of war respectable. But hey, that’s just me.

I thought everybody lied on job applications and resumes at one time or another. Sometimes it makes the difference between putting bread on the table rather than some suicidal moralistic impulse that one must never lie even if you starve. I decided to ask around about the subject.

"Have you ever lied on a job application or resume?" I asked a cab driver friend of mine. "Yes, I have," the Brandeis dropout replied. "Thirty years ago when I applied for a job at the Hilton as a busboy I put down on the resume that I had worked as a waiter at Mr. Steak in Boston. It was a complete fabrication." In what seemed to me a non-sequitur he ended the conversation by saying that he doubted if a restaurant with the name "Mr. Steak" would have survived very long anyway. Although this could have been an oblique reference to his recent conversion to vegetarianism.

I asked a jazz musician friend of mine who hasn’t had a straight gig in forty years if he ever lied on a job application. "I did have one straight job when I was eighteen, as an exterminator," he said, acting kind of proud about it. "But I was lying when I wrote on the job application that I had a high school degree."

Out at the urban tennis courts I asked the tennis coach if he ever lied on a resume. "Never about tennis," he asserted loudly. Some mothers of the little kiddies he was instructing were sitting nearby on the bench and heard my question. Then we moved aside. "But I have lied on my pizza delivery jobs," he revealed. "I had to compress dates. It doesn’t look good to put on a resume that your pizza delivery work has been stop-and-start. I had to say I delivered pizzas for five years consistently."

I was thinking that maybe I should put the question to a more elevated crowd. I remembered my mother-in-law telling me a story years ago that when her husband was filling out his application for medical school in the 1940’s and he was asked to state what profession his father had been in, he wrote down, "Professor, University of Moscow, Russia." "University of Moscow?" I said dubiously. "I know," she admitted, "there was no University of Moscow." Then she thundered, "What was he supposed to say, that his father had been a horse trader in some schmutz town in Russia?"

Trying to keep things current I called around to some of my fancier friends, some even college professors. "Have you ever lied on a resume?" "Never!" they responded. "Never?" I asked. "Not even when you did like, odd jobs before college or something?" They all said they never lied. Why do I not believe these folks, they with their credentials and their tenured positions? Call it a hunch.

The last and final job I will ever work I put down on the resume that I had no college degrees at all. I was lying. I just thought I’d be overqualified and wouldn’t get the job. I mean, I needed dough in a hurry. Later when I was talking about graduate school to one of my coworkers, a local gangbanger who I was encouraging to get out of the ghetto, the manager who overheard me said, "I didn’t know you went to college." I told him I was sorry I lied on my resume. "That’s silly," he said. "You didn’t need to lie on your job application. We hire anybody."

I have a feeling Marilee Jones was a risk taker and pushed her luck a bit. She had a good run, thirty years isn’t bad to be the Dean of Admissions at one of America’s most revered institutions. I just can’t be moral about her lies because there is nothing moral about these institutions. They are knowledge factories that turn out little war makers, little business profiteers. They are not sanctuaries of humanity or decency, not any more. And that cannot be laid at the feet of Marilee Jones. I just wonder how she’ll fill out her next job application.

EVA LIDDELL lives in the Pacific Northwest.


Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?