A reader writes:
If an applicant is hired and later it is discovered that the applicant did not include information about a past job on the resume that I used in deciding to hire the applicant, is that considered lying on a resume? I’m asking because I called the newly discovered former employer who my employee neglected to list and discovered that many of the problems I’m having now with this employee were the same problems his former employer had and fired him for.
Are you talking about what the candidate put on his resume, or what he put on a job application form that you have candidates fill out? If the candidate just didn’t put a particular job on his resume, that’s in no way considered lying. Resumes aren’t required to be exhaustive; they’re a marketing document designed to present the candidate in the strongest possible light.
However, if you’re talking about an application form that all your candidates fill out, you need to consult the form to see if there’s language on there attesting that the employment history is full and complete. If your form doesn’t require that the job history be comprehensive, then once again, this isn’t lying.
But more to the point: If you’re having problems with this employee, you need to address those problems head-on. It sounds like you’re looking for an “easy out” to fire him and are hoping that lying on the application will be it. But you shouldn’t need an easy out; unless you’re in a highly bureaucratic environment that makes it near-impossible for you to fire someone (like the government or, often, a unionized company), you should handle this the exact same way that you’d handle it if the job history issue had never come up.
Specifically, start managing him: Explain in clear terms what he needs to do differently in order to keep his job, be explicit about the fact that his job will be in jeopardy if he doesn’t immediately begin meeting that bar, and then replace him if he hasn’t had a turnaround within a few weeks.
By the way, as a side note, are you saying that you called the newly-discovered past employer for a reference after this person was already working for you? Unless the past employer was someone you happened to know, that’s … really weird. Once you’ve hired someone, there’s no real point in checking references; at that point, the responsibility for managing (and, if needed, firing) the person is all yours.