Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lying on Resumes

Most people are forced to lie on their resumes

Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson is being hounded for lying on his resume and saying he had a degree in computer science when he didn’t. One of Yahoo’s largest shareholders wants the guy fired by noon on Monday for the lie.

My reaction is, so he lied on his resume?. Big deal. Who doesn’t?

Truth is, in this insanely credential crazed society, people feel forced to lie about their experience and credentials. And especially now, when computers, and not human beings, are reviewing resumes. Put the wrong qualification down, or fail to mention one that the computer is programmed to flag, and you’ll never get an interview.

At least when humans looked at these things they could get a feel for the person behind the words on the paper. No more.

And, as employers demand super-human employees who can do everything, job seekers are inflating their skills and experience to meet those idiotic expectations.

So, if you even once helped a co-worker learn a new skill, even if it was just for a day, you are now a “mentor who trained colleagues to master new skills critical to the company’s core mission.”

It’s as big a lie as saying you have a degree when you don’t. But it sounds good, and recruiters and interviewers love it. No, they demand it. Try shrugging in an interview and saying, “Yeah, I took a couple hours one day and showed Ed how to use Excel. It was no big deal after he got used to it.”

They’ll throw you out the door for failing to be a mentor.

I’ve seen resumes loaded with examples of “community service,” and boards and commissions people are on, which some bosses love. Problem is, most of that stuff is fraudulent as well. If some of these people actually participated in all those organizations and boards, they’d never have time to actually do their jobs or care for their families. They join the boards just to pad their resumes. They don’t actually do the stuff.

But imagine if you were asked in an interview about your record of community service and answered:

“I don’t have one. I work 50 hours a week, got a family, and when I’m off I’m dead tired and I like to spend it with them. And, when I’m off I like to relax, pop a few beers and watch war movies.”

You’d never get the job.

And when it comes to college degrees, in many instances nothing could be more useless, especially if you’ve been doing your job for more than 20 years. If you’ve been in the workforce that long, most of the stuff you learned in college is obsolete. If you’ve been working that long, you’ve learned more on the job, including new technologies and skills, than you ever did or could in school.

So why do they keep asking for obsolete degrees?

Some people, especially older workers, don’t have college degrees, but they have enormous skills, experience and instinct that college can’t and never could teach. If they’re honest on their resume and say they didn’t finish college, they’ll never get past the computer and called for an interview.

If they do lie and the lie is discovered, the self-righteous interviewer (who has most likely loaded up his or her resume with massive exaggerations) will become indignant.

It’s good that the late Steve Jobs started his own company. His resume would never make it past the computer because the founder of Apple never finished college.

There’s got to be a better and more honest way to hire people. The standard should be whether they can actually do the job, not what degrees they do or don’t have.

Until we find that better way, most everyone in the workforce will continue to lie.

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