My practice manager lied on her resume

Why it’s so important to check your employees’ work history and references

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A veterinary practice owner writes:

I had a fantastic practice manager working with me for many years. She went on maternity leave and decided to stay at home with her kids for longer than anticipated, so I had to replace her.

I was very worried that I wouldn’t find anyone to fill her shoes, but I got lucky with one of the applicants just a few weeks after I advertised the role. Let’s call her Sarah She was perfect — she had worked as a practice manager for almost 10 years, the past two of which she was at a large hospital on the other side of the country. She said she wanted to move back closer to her family, and was looking for opportunities around our area.

Sarah started working with us 6 months ago, and everything was going very well. That was until I went to a conference recently and was bragging to a colleague about what an asset to our team Sarah was, and how happy I am to have found her. My colleague — let’s call him Jim — put two-and-two together; turns out he used to work with Sarah briefly in her previous role.

Jim made a comment along the lines of “Yeah, I heard she was fired from there.”

I was shocked to hear this, because I remember Sarah saying during her interview process that she wanted to leave her position to be closer to her family.

Sarah’s resume said that she was still employed at the other hospital when she interviewed with us, not that she had been fired!

I don’t know what to do now, how do I bring this up with her? Do I terminate her position because she lied on her resume?

I think you may be jumping to conclusions here.

Did you conduct a reference check directly with the employer where Jim and Sarah worked together? Did they confirm her dates of employment and why her employment was terminated? That’s another topic, but if you didn’t, this example illustrates of one the many reasons why it’s so important to check references before taking on a new hire.

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OK, let’s assume you didn’t conduct a formal reference check with her previous employer. There’s nothing you can do about that now. Where does this leave you? Well, I’d argue, respectfully, that Jim may not know what he’s talking about! He said, “I heard she was fired from there.” So he wasn’t her employer, the person who actually fired her? You said “he worked with her briefly,” so he may not even have been employed there at the time she was supposedly fired, and this is all hearsay?

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Jim is correct in saying Sarah was fired. Is it possible that she was fired AFTER she applied for a position at your hospital? At the time she wrote and submitted her resume, maybe she was still employed there. This would mean that she didn’t lie on her resume at all. She omitted telling you, at some later point during the interview process, that she lost her job.

If Sarah had been fired from that hospital many months or a year prior to applying for a position with you — yes, that’s a problem — she clearly lied on her resume. But you don’t know that. All you have now is hearsay, and a fantastic employee who has exceeded your expectations in the six months that she has been with you, so I certainly wouldn’t be thinking about terminating her before you know all the facts.

How do you bring this up with Sarah? I don’t know if you should bring it up with her at all — not before you get all the facts. Good people get fired from bad positions. If you want to investigate this further, start by contacting her previous employer and confirming her dates of employment and if and why she was let go. You’ll have a much better sense of what you’re dealing with. If at that point you are still concerned, ask her to explain the circumstances and dates of her departure. Her response will guide your actions beyond that, but it’s too soon to do anything now.

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