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Dear Uncle Bert and Auntie Gert: I think I got a job by mistake

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I've been in my new job for a few weeks but I'm beginning to think that they hired me by mistake. My boss keeps making reference to my previous experience and work history but they are those I know to be the experience and work history of another candidate.

I feel guilty that I've taken someone else's job and I am nervous that, if the mistake comes to light later I might get into trouble.

Now I'm in a dilemma: should I tell my boss that there seems to be a confusion or keep quiet and pretend I hadn't noticed?

Uncle Bert says

Let's take this step by step.

If you obtain a job by lying about your experience, that's "obtaining a monetary advantage by deception" which is the classic (arguably classical) definition of fraud and then you can be in big trouble.

But you didn't do that. You submitted your C.V. with your own accurate details. So you did nothing wrong in getting the job.

Are you right to keep the job?

This is not like finding an extra thousand pounds in your bank account and quickly spending it before the bank finds out that it put the money in the wrong account. In that case, you would be liable for the amount you'd spent.

If the offer letter made specific reference to experience which you do not have, then making that clear, at the time, would have been the proper course of action. Offer letters rarely explain the reason someone is engaged so unless yours was different to the norm, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Can you do the job? Are you doing it to the satisfaction of your employer? If so, it seems to me that you are doing nothing wrong by remaining in post. If your conscience remains unhappy you could wait a few months, until you've proved your worth, then when your boss make reference to, for example, a previous employer, say something like "that wasn't me! I've never worked there!"

But should you do something precipitate, like arranging a meeting with your boss and telling him outright that you think a mistake was made?

I really don't think so.

Auntie Gert says

The biggest problems you will face if you create a formal situation to tell your boss that you think he made a mistake in employing you are these:

1. "you made a mistake in giving me this job" "Really? I'd better sack you, then."

2. "you gave the job to me when you meant to give it to someone else." "What? Are you telling me I'm stupid? Get out of here."

Do you honestly think he's going to say "thanks for bringing that to my attention. Let's have lunch" ?

Get over it. You've got a job you wanted and I assume are good at. Perform well and be happy.

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