Would you lie on your Resume? – Reflections prompted by Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

News Item:  Justified (the program on FX) just won a Peabody Award

The entertainment programs selected included The Good Wife, a CBS dramatic series about a political spouse’s life after her husband’s scandalous downfall, and Justified, FX’s modern-day Western set in the wild, wild hills and hollows of Appalachia.

People distort reality.  (Out of 1,000 resumés, there were substantial misstatements on more than 40 percent).
Jeffrey Pfeffer:  Power:  Why Some People Have it – and Others Don’t


So here’s the ethical question of the day.  Would you lie on your resume?  4 out of 10 do.  Would you?

My answer is, “of course not.”  I think it would totally undermine all credibility – and until we get that number down to about 1 out of 1,000, our society is going to continue to have scandals and crises like the 2008 financial meltdown.

But, then again… maybe…  it’s not that simple.

Deputy U. S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant)

I am a big fan of Justified.  I record every episode, and miss none of them.  There is something about the earthiness of the Harlan, Kentucky modern-day Western feel that just sweeps me in.  I have liked Timothy Olyphant in Live Free or Die Hard, and Hitman.  (I’ve never seen Deadwood, his other hit show).  So I was excited to hear Timothy Olyphant interviewed by Terry Gross.  (Who is better than Terry Gross? – audio and transcript, here).  So – here is a lengthy excerpt…  Read it carefully, and I’ll get back to you with my question at the end.

From the transcript:

Mr. OLYPHANT: No, this was my first job of any kind outside of lifeguarding. You know, I moved to New York, I studied acting. My resume had a bunch of things I made up. You know, scenes I did in class and said that I’ve done in some regional theaters or something. And I went in a read for the late Phyllis Huffman, who cast all of Clint Eastwood’s movies and I got the job. It was for the WB network – their first season. Warner Brothers was starting this new network. Clint had – as I understood the story – Clint, you know, his relationship with Warner Brothers is legendary, so he was going to produce this show and I was going to be the kind of the Edd “Kookie” Byrnes-type character.

It was a tribute to the show. It wasn’t a remake. Some guy – Jim Caviezal was the star. He was the guy who moved out to L.A. and started a detective agency and named it after his father’s favorite television show, “77 Sunset Strip.”

GROSS: Oh, I get it.

Mr. OLYPHANT: Maria Bello was in it.

GROSS: Uh-huh.

Mr. OLYPHANT: So, I flew out to L.A. to shoot. We sat down at the table read. I was looking for Clint everywhere. He’s nowhere to be seen. So when we finished the reading I asked, where’s Clint, you know. They said he quit. Apparently, you know, about three-four days of television network executives he pretty much decided, ah, you guys go ahead without me. And so, that was it. But the pilot -the show didn’t get picked up.

GROSS: Let me back up a couple of steps here. You said you made up things on your resume.

(Soundbite of laughter)


GROSS: You took things you did in your acting class and made class and made it seem like you’ve did them on stage in regional theater. Was there a little voice in your head thinking, maybe that’s unethical, but maybe it’ll get me a job?

Mr. OLYPHANT: Are you kidding? Where am I supposed to – hand in a resume that just says, Timothy Olyphant, actor. Experience, none. I mean, I was like, come on. I was 20-something years old, I’m looking for work. People aren’t – you know, you got to make them feel a little comfortable. I’ve done something.

GROSS: Were you afraid that someone would know, like, the New York theater scene and the regional theater scene so well, and they’d look at your resume and say, no, you didn’t?

Mr. OLYPHANT: If I’m not mistaken, I have a – now I know I’m not mistaken, ’cause I have the book at home. My first play of any kind was an off-Broadway production of a play called “The Monogamist,” and every year this Theater World magazine in New York gives awards for outstanding debut performances, for Off-Broadway and Broadway. And I was given an award for my performance in “The Monogamist.” And in the book – they issue a book every year with the people who won the awards that year and all the previous years for on and on and on. The names are amazing. I mean it’s I’ve gone, I’ve looked at them. It’s just incredible company of people that have been given these awards. And in there is – it says a bunch of plays that I had been in previously that I’ve never been in in my life, in the book.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. OLYPHANT: But you know, that’s – I mean, I don’t know what they’re doing these days, but that’s what people did, you just, you know, you’ve got to put something on there.

So, you are an aspiring young actor, and you get no auditions if you have no experience, and you have no experience except drama classes.

Now, would you lie on you resume?

{and, for those who wonder is there ever a time for “situation ethics” – do you remember the stories of the brave young men ready to fight in World War II who lied about their age to go to war?  Were they right or wrong?}

I think it is wrong to lie on your resume.  Don’t you?  And in practically every instance, it is truly inexcusable.

But… maybe… there are times when it is a little more understandable than other times.

Life can be complicated.

2 thoughts on “Would you lie on your Resume? – Reflections prompted by Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *