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I lied to get my job

A letter writer never had any intention of sticking around in his job after the summer — so what should he tell his employer when he goes to college?

Cut yourself some slack, says our elder, and stretch the truth just a little.

Dear EWC

I just graduated high school and am attending college next year in the fall. My move in date is August 15. I got a job working in a small town oil changing place. This job is unlike any other job and they take stuff very seriously. I got this job in May and I needed a job really bad to pay for my car insurance, so when the owner asked me if this was just a summertime job I lied and said no, I plan on working here in college — otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten the job. My college is about 45 minutes away and I am playing college soccer so I will be super busy. So because I leave August 15 I am in a time crunch to figure out what to do with this job. I don’t want to upset them. So should I lie and say I have another job already lined up that pays better? Or something else? Thank you.

Lloyd replies

Your letter struck a chord with me as I remembered the somewhat strange job I had the summer between high school and college, like you, to make some much-needed money. First of all, let me commend you on hustling to find work over this summer and doing your best to be financially independent. I can tell from your letter that you are motivated to be successful and also concerned about how to be a good person in the process.

I’m sure you expect to hear that honesty is the best policy and lying is not a good habit to start. In the future, lying on job applications could have very serious consequences. That’s all true, but I also want to cut you some slack — as you found, it can be difficult to find temporary employment and you’re not the first or last person to tell a story that is more acceptable to a potential employer. So the question is where to go from here.

I think the most considerate path would be to have a conversation with your employer ASAP so they can look for the resources they need when you go off to college. My approach would be to gently back out of your lie with only a minor stretching of your truth. Say that the closer it gets to start of school the more you worry that distance and the need to focus on your academics and other school activities means that you won’t be able to continue with the job. That way you’re not adding new lies, just shifting the timeline of your realization a bit.

Apologize for not realizing this sooner, thank them for the opportunity and if possible keep the door open for the future. Only if you think this is possible, tell them that you would be open to working shifts during school breaks and coming back next summer.

If you have been a valued employee, and I’m guessing you have, you might be surprised at your employer’s response. They know that there are a lot of moving parts for people your age and I doubt that they are expecting lifetime commitments.

I wish you all the best in your college career. I think you have the work ethic and a sense of morality that will serve you well over the next few years. And have some fun. I hope you consider writing in the future with any question.

Letter #: 425050
Category: Career

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