Personal Finance: Fudging the facts

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, December 16, 2010; 10:51 AM

With more job candidates than available positions, one Web site is telling little white employment lies on behalf of prospective hires.

As Baltimore Sun writer Eileen Ambrose reports, offers to act as a job seeker's past employer in order to provide a positive job reference.

"It's certainly a sign of desperation," an analyst told Ambrose. "It's a mistake to think that you can lie about something to get in the door and prove yourself."

It never ceases to amaze me what people will do to make money. I know unemployment is high and good jobs are hard to find, but surely people know the service this Web site is offering is a bad, bad way to land a job. Besides, employers are increasingly going to great lengths to check out job candidates, since many have been burned by false information on resumes.

Alas, I know people lie to get jobs. So here's this week's Color of Money Question: What lie have you or someone you know told to land a job? Send your responses to Put "Fudging the Facts" in the subject line. And given the nature of this question, this is one of the few times I'll allow you to remain anonymous. However, please still include your city and state.

The Tale of Two Christmases

Doesn't matter this year if you've been a good little girl or boy (or man or woman, for that matter). The lingering effects of the recession have created a larger gulf between the holiday haves and have nots.

Post reporter Ylan Q. Mui writes about this division between American households during the Christmas season.

Mui writes: "Though economists declared the recession officially over last summer, the pace of recovery has been uneven across income levels. The rebound in the stock market and record low mortgage interest rates have mostly benefited affluent households, buoying their confidence in the economy along with their ability - and their desire - to spend. Meanwhile, progress largely has bypassed poorer families who remain hamstrung by anemic wage growth and a higher unemployment rate."

Talk To Me

Today is my last live video and text chats until the New Year.

What a year 2010 has been. Major financial and credit card reform, the recession was declared over (as of last spring) and unemployment still at record highs. We have a lot to chat about. So join me live today. The video chat starts at 11:45 a.m. At noon ET I'll be online for the text chat.

It's just you and me today so send in your year-end money questions.

Also, I'm still looking for Debt Defeaters. They are people who have paid off large debts in a short period of time. Please send your story to Watch my live video chat today or later to learn about a free-giveaway starting in the New Year.

My Holiday Gift to You

As my Christmas gift to you, I'm giving away some leftover copies of several books I selected this year for my Color of Money Book Club.

If you are interested in receiving a book, send an email to and put "Holiday Book Club Gift" in the subject line. Be sure to include the title of the book you are interested in receiving. I will randomly select winners.

Here are the books:

--"Stop Acting Rich: And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire," by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D.

--"Regifting Revival: A Guide to Revising Gifts Graciously," by Jodi Newbern

--"Save Big," by Elisabeth Leamy

--"Live It, Love It, Earn It: A Woman's Guide to Financial Freedom," by Marianna Olszewki

--"Buy Close, Move In!: How to navigate the new world of real estate - Safe and Profitably- And end up with the Home of your Dreams," by Ilyce Glink

--"A Purse of Your Own," by Deborah Owens

--"Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace," by Carla A. Harris

--"Cliffnotes Graduation Debt: How to Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life," by Reyna Gobel

--"Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?: Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job," by Ellen Gordon Reeves

--"Throw Fifty Things Away: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life," by Gail Blanke

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Responses to 'Bickering with your Boss'

Redskin's football player Albert Haynesworth was recently suspended from the team for his disrespectful behavior towards his coach. Post writer Sally Jenkins characterized Haynesworth's behavior as "unmanageable."

For last week's Color of Money Question, I wanted to know: What's the worse case of insubordination you've seen in your workplace? Not surprisingly, Haynesworth is not alone in bad employee behavior:

"The worst example I've witnessed was a manager colleague who, in a staff meeting with other managers, told our managing director to 'go f**k yourself.' The managing director asked her to leave the meeting, she told him to 'p*ss off' and that he should leave the meeting himself. Not only did we lose all respect for the offending manager, we also lost a lot of respect for the managing director for tolerating the behavior and allowing it to continue within earshot of our direct reports," says Larry Hayes of Dublin, Ohio. "The ultimate outcome was nothing. The colleague wasn't fired. Reprimanded? Nada."

One reader said disrespect forced her to leave a part-time job.

"As a customer service supervisor, I managed over 50 cashiers. Depending on their hire status, most cashiers were entitled to one 15-minute break and one 30-minute lunch. One particular employee took a 25-minute break and a 90-minute lunch on several occasions. Other cashiers began to mimic his behavior since if one can do it, all can. Fed up, I suggested that he be terminated. He claimed that I was picking on him with a hint of discrimination. Upper management kept him. I quit since I have zero tolerance for unethical behavior and poor performance."

"Non-performers can severely damage morale in an organization," writes Jan of Vienna, Va. "The worst employees were those who persuaded their coworkers to do their job and then take credit for tasks they didn't work on at all. It took longer to root out these sneaky employees and their conspirators, but it was worth it in the long run for everyone in the organization."

Tia Lewis contributed to this e-letter.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

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