A Legal Document

Career counselors harp on the necessity of providing accurate information in a job application. Some clients take it seriously while others feel a little fudge here and there isn’t necessarily a big deal. Many people lie on their resume, too. The difference between a resume and a job application is that only the job application is considered a legal document. A job application is signed at the bottom by the job applicant and there is usually a certifying statement to the affect that all information is accurate, blah, blah, blah. Lying on either document can and will get you in trouble, but lying on the application can have more serious consequences.

I was watching the Judge Samuel Alito confirmation hearing today and was amazed at the attention some of the senators were drawing to his affiliation with a group that he listed on his job application in 1985. That was twenty years ago! Job applications and resumes have amazing shelf-lives. Want something to haunt you? Lie on your resume or job application. Want minutia to follow you for the rest of your life? Put it on a job application and then go into public service.

Another aspect of the hearings that I have enjoyed is watching the word-fencing that is going on. No one pays more attention to words and their subtle meanings than lawyers. As a writer, listening to Judge Alito parry inane questions from overblown bureaucrats with the turn of a synonym has been pure pleasure. Listening to senators try to get an answer from a master legalist to the same question asked over and over and over (using the same words) is sheer hilarity.

The confirmation hearing might seem dry to the average person but career professionals relish it. It’s the ultimate job interview broadcast live to the nation! We watch body language, questioning, dress, etc. and try to take away tidbits that might help us help our clients. The preparation that has been done on both sides of the desk is amazing. The fact that Judge Alito can pull cases from fifteen years ago out of his head amazes me. He has really done his homework. He keeps his answers relevant, answers the questions simply, and doesn’t try to overstate his actions. He is a great interviewer. How great a Supreme Court Justice he will be is still to be determined.

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