Published On: Fri, Mar 25th, 2016

Envy can turn job-seekers into liars

Unemployed job-seekers can be motivated to embellish their resumes when they are envious of peers, researchers suggest.

“Job search envy has the potential to produce negative or positive reactions,” says Brian Dineen, associate professor of management at Purdue University. “We propose the envious reactions of job-seekers can be negative in the form of resume fraud, but can also be positive in the form of greater job search effort.”

“Can envy be more painful when jobs seem available?”

For the first part of a new study, published in the Academy of Management Journal, researchers surveyed 335 unemployed job-seekers. When job-seekers compared their search efforts to those of peers, they expressed greater likelihood to commit resume fraud—intentionally embellishing or fabricating information—to keep up.

“Envy resulted in resume fraud to a greater extent after a longer search, while it resulted in greater job search effort during a shorter search,” Dineen says.

resume cheater

For the second part of the study, 49 graduate students were surveyed. Envy led to greater resume fraud during the job search phase, with greater effort more likely during the less critical internship-seeking stage.

The studies also showed that both groups—the unemployed job-seekers and the graduate students—responded to envy with resume fraud to a greater extent when job markets were strong.

“Can envy be more painful when jobs seem available? It was a surprising finding,” Dineen says.

Researchers say the study could provide professional recruiters insights into job-seekers’ motivation, allowing them to screen applicants more closely or provide counsel on managing envy. Future research could offer qualitative insights into job search methods available to job-seekers to help lessen comparisons to peers.


This text is published here under a Creative Commons License.
Author: John Hughey-Purdue University
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