Wednesday, January 30, 2008

True Lies (not)

WOW! Call me naive, I guess I just would not believe so many folks would outright lie on their resumes. I can understand some "puffery" but not outright lying on jobs, schools and the like. This situation arose out of the finding out that the City Manager of eagle Pass, lied on his resume about prior jobs and where he went to school. He listed the University of Maryland instead of a "school" that gives you a diploma based on life experiences and $ paid.

I disagree with Professor Chang who says it is the responsibility of the employer to "catch" the lies on a resume! How about its the responsibility of the job seeker not to lie on their resume?

Eagle Pass: Padded resumes common deception
Vincent T. Davis: Express-News

The recent firing of Eagle Pass City Manager Glen Starnes for lying on his resume has the business and political communities buzzing. People from both camps said they understand how false document scandals can happen even in an age of the Internet and technological advances when almost anybody can check credentials.

According to a recent survey from Hire Right, an online employment screening service, inflated credentials are prevalent across the country. The study showed that 80 percent of resumes are misleading, 30 percent claim distorted work dates and 27 percent included false references.

Mike Perez, president of the Texas City Management Association, said incidents similar to the one in Eagle Pass are rare among the 1,093 members of his organization. A city manager from McAllen, Perez said stringent rules prevent applicants from getting hired based on false resumes.

Members are required to take an ethics class within six months and a refresher course every two years, he said.

"Those of us in this profession understand that we work for a public entity that's funded by tax dollars," Perez said. "We need to be transparent. People have a right to know where we went to school (and worked.) We knew when we decided to get into this profession that's part of the way it works."

Dr. Susan Dollar, director of career services at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said she tells her students that a resume is their face to the world. She helps them list prior jobs as transferable skills and if they were ever laid off or fired. Being truthful on a resume about prior offenses or convictions, she said, would make her want to interview an applicant.

"You cannot embellish a 2.8 GPA," Dollar tells her students. "It doesn't round up to a 3.0."
Dollar said some people enhance their identity because it's easy to do and they don't think anyone will check their claims.

"The consequences can be devastating," Dollar said. "Like anything, there's a percentage that never get caught, but are you willing to risk that?"

She said she encourages her students to attach cover letters, which can address any points that might be confusing.

Pepe Lee Chang, a business ethics professor at UTSA, said that when it comes to resumes, it's all about being competitive, which leads to applicants padding resumes to increase their marketability. She said it's the responsibility of the person reviewing the resume to catch inflated entries and verify the claims.

"It's fine to make what you've done seem as great as possible," she said. "But it has to be true."