Lying on your resume

It’s not the crime that gets you, it’s the coverup.
Richard Nixon and Watergate

Getting asked by reporter about where I went to school made me remember the day I had to choose whether to lie on my resume.

I Badly Want the Job
When I got my first job in Silicon Valley it was through serendipity (my part) and desperation (on the part of my first employer.)  I really didn’t have much of a resume – four years in the Air Force, building a scram system for a nuclear reactor, a startup in Ann Arbor Michigan but not much else.

It was at my second startup in Silicon Valley that my life and career took an interesting turn. A recruiter found me, now in product marketing and wanted to introduce me to a hot startup making something called a workstation. “This is a technology-driven company and your background sounds great. Why don’t you send me a resume and I’ll pass it on.” A few days later I got a call back from the recruiter. “Steve, you left off your education.  Where did you go to school?”

“I never finished college,” I said.

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. “Steve, the VP of Sales and Marketing previously ran their engineering department. He was a professor of computer science at Harvard and his last job was running the Advanced Systems Division at Xerox PARC. Most of the sales force were previously design engineers. I can’t present a candidate without a college degree. Why don’t you make something up.”

I still remember the exact instant of the conversation. In that moment I realized I had a choice. But I had no idea how profound, important and lasting it would be. It would have been really easy to lie, and what the heck the recruiter was telling me to do so. And he was telling me that, “no one checks education anyway.” (This is long before the days of the net.)

My Updated Resume
I told him I’d think about it. And I did for a long while. After a few days I sent him my updated resume and he passed it on to Convergent Technologies. Soon after I was called into an interview with the company. I can barely recall the other people I met, (my potential boss the VP of Marketing, interviews with various engineers, etc.) but I’ll never forget the interview with Ben Wegbreit, the VP of Sales and Marketing.

Ben held up my resume and said, “You know you’re here interviewing because I’ve never seen a resume like this.  You don’t have any college listed and there’s no education section.  You put “Mensa” here,” – pointing to the part where education normally goes. “Why?” I looked back at him and said, “I thought Mensa might get your attention.”

sgb 1980 resume at 26

sgb 1980 resume at 26

Ben just stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. Then he abruptly said, “Tell me what you did in your previous companies.” I thought this was going to be a story-telling interview like the others. But instead the minute I said, “my first startup used CATV coax to implement a local-area network for process control systems (which 35 years ago pre-Ethernet and TCP/IP was pretty cutting edge.) Ben said, “why don’t you go to the whiteboard and draw the system diagram for me.”  Do what? Draw it?? I dug deep and spent 30 minutes diagramming trying remember headend’s, upstream and downstream frequencies, amplifiers, etc.  With Ben peppering me with questions I could barely keep up. And there was a bunch of empty spaces where I couldn’t remember some of the detail. When I was done explaining it I headed for the chair, but Ben stopped me.

“As long as you’re a the whiteboard, why don’t we go through the other two companies you were at.”  I couldn’t believe it, I was already mentally exhausted but we spent another half hour with me drawing diagrams and Ben asking questions. First talking about what I had taught at ESL – (as carefully as I could.) Finally, we talked about Zilog microprocessors, making me draw the architecture (easy because I had taught it) and some sample system designs (harder.)

Finally I got to sit down.  Ben looked at me for a long while not saying a word. Then he stood up and opened the door signaling me to leave, shook my hand and said, “Thanks for coming in.” WTF? That’s it?? Did I get the job or not?

That evening I got a call from the recruiter. “Ben loved you. In fact he had to convince the VP of Marketing who didn’t want to hire you. Congratulations.”

Epilogue
Three and a half years later Convergent was now a public company and I was a Vice President of Marketing working for Ben. Ben ended up as my mentor at Convergent (and for the rest of my career), my peer at Ardent and my partner and co-founder at Epiphany.  I would never use Mensa again on my resume and my education section would always be empty.

But every time I read about an executive who got caught in a resume scandal I remember the moment I had to choose.

Lessons Learned

  • You will be faced with ethical dilemmas your entire career
  • Taking the wrong path is most often the easiest choice
  • These choices will seem like trivial and inconsequential shortcuts – at the time
  • Some of them will have lasting consequences
  • It’s not the lie that will catch up with you, it’s the coverup
  • Choose wisely

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67 Responses

  1. I applaud your choices. You don’t know how many folks I know who are brilliant without college educations who slide along quietly, not mentioning it. The Linkedin progress bar drives them all nuts though– it’s like a big red j’accuse each time they update their profiles.

    One question though, how did you manage to teach at Haas/Stanford then? I had understood that teaching a full course stringently required a master’s level education?

    • It’s another reason that Stanford/Haas are great schools.
      I’m honored to be there.

      • They are lucky to have you, and smart enough to look at life experience as a useful equivalent. I’m still surprised places like Google will not hire product or eng folks without a CS degree, much less an ordinary one. People who take alternative paths in life are the ones who think differently and can lead innovation, IMO.

        • Dear Christina, I just loved your thought “People who take alternative paths in life are the ones who think differently and can lead innovation”.

        • Don’t worry its Google loss. Their HR filters are too limited.

          People from mixed backgrounds will become more common in the future as we live longer and to work longer and change careers more often. In addition they are possibly more likely to be in startups where a combination of skills will help out. And the fusion of their backgrounds will likely give them insights that highly specialized people will not connect.

        • I work in CS at Stanford, with an undergrad degree in Art. I do great there, but I’ll never get a job offer at Google, because they seem to think that what the paper says is what matters, not what is in my head.

        • Google has addressed this before, it’s because as a large company their hiring has to be scalable. Steve’s story was about getting hired at a startup. Google can still hire innovative people without formal educations, but it’s called an acquihire.

        • Google certainly DO hire people without a CS degree.

          You’ll need recommendations from people Google trusts though. (ie, current or some former employees).

    • I love it! It is always best to be truthful. One lie leads to another until the truth catches up with you.

  2. Great story and insight.

  3. Substitute sales proposals, advertising, tweets, literature, etc. — the coverup is always worse than the crime. Once you lose credibility, it’s gone.

  4. Steve, My 14 year-old son just got his first job and I will be giving him this article. I’m proud to know you!

  5. This article combined with things I’ve been thinking about doing recently has kindled a new interest in my old startup – http://www.mightycv.com

    Particularly the line:

    Taking the wrong path is most often the easiest choice

    It’s led me to think I just need to find the time to make make the right choices and that won’t be the easiest route with my current workload. Still it has helped me mentally move away from perhaps not choosing wisely or ethically. Sorry to be so cryptic, but it really has helped and so just wanted to say.

    Thanks Steve!

  6. You give hope to all of us “self taught” guys out there. Thanks for the insight

  7. Well done! When I was a hiring manager, I have used the whiteboard technique on a number of occasions, and that quickly demonstrates who knows what they’re talking about and who’s full of hot air. At a certain point, the right experience far outweighs a degree. In fact, a lot of people leave school with credentials they do not know how to apply. Understanding the jargon is one thing. Being able to execute is wholly different.

  8. I’m sorry but you lied and still got the job. This isn’t something I can applaud at all.

    • Mike,
      Reread the story.

      steve

      • He might be referring to the Mensa part. It’s unclear whether you were in Mensa or not. I’m guessing you were?

        • Ben,
          Correct, I was in Mensa ~1969-1982.

          In high school I was a terrible student and therefore I didn’t think I was that smart. My sister, much older and much wiser, thought otherwise and had me take a Mensa test when I was a junior.

          The numbers confirmed her suspicion.

          Being a Mensa member didn’t make school any easier but it gave me comfort that I wasn’t a complete idiot, just that I learned differently.

          Convergent was the only time I put Mensa on a resume because of how the recruiter described the intellectual horsepower of the hiring exec and the rest of the team. I thought I needed something to wave to get in the door.

          It worked. After that I just let my resume and accomplishments speak for themselves.

          steve

  9. I think I’m missing the point. Are you not in Mensa or are you suggesting that putting Mensa in as a proxy for an education system is absurd?

  10. Excellent post, Steve.

    @mike

    > I’m sorry but you lied and still got the job. This isn’t something I can applaud at all.

    Where did Steve say that ? It was pretty clear to me that he did NOT lie.

  11. Thanks for sharing! Great lesson!

  12. Excellent story! In my writings about CV’s, my first advise is NEVER LIE.

  13. Great story, thanks for sharing. Reenforces my choice to stick with the representation of myself.
    12 years in the military as an Electronics Technician. A total 180 degree flip in career, as now following a path in health and wellness. I still find my military experience and technical skills a great help every day.
    Thank-you.

  14. Integrity goes further, last longer, and catapults. Leaders; all while equipping them to lead others. Its not the title that matters its the intracacies that build IT… its easy to get caught up when you are desprate…I’m glad to hear you made a decision that stands as a model… I’m
    The Leader Catapulted:-)

  15. Steve

    I like your stuff and in mycase I did not finish university and it did cause some anxious moments as a CTO in my first start up (BlueGill Technologies) with 2 buddies from Ann Arbor. Thankfully it was never suggested that I lie we just ignored the topic and went to product features.
    I see that you started there also are you from Michigan?

  16. Ah, memories of Ben Wegbreit as teacher from undergrad CS program. Very intense personality. Brilliant.

  17. Great article on a topic that couldn’t be more relevant in lousy economic times. This is an inspiring story of how an employer, probably very old school, dealt with a candidate creatively. Ben made an investment in Steve. Obviously he saw something that was more important than a sheepskin. As I prepare for a second telephone interview with a company, I reflect on how the hring landscape has so changed since this incident occured. Very rarely are you ever brought in for a face to face unless you are far along in the hiring process. Most times because you are applying for a job on a website, you never hear anything from the employer, even after you’ve invested at least an hour of time applying on their career site As is often the case, even after you have invested hours of time in phone and face to face interviewing, they either never contact you again, or send a form e-mail message to say they’ve chosen someone they feel is better qualified than you. We hear many stories today about how top execs get fired for falsifying their edcucation. Because the job market is now so competitive, it is no surprise people are tempted to seek any advantage over the numerous candidates lined up for that single job.

  18. Whoa, there…. Some people built their successful careers on resume faking. Some execs got caught, but we have no idea how many high-fliers did not.

    And even the ones who got caught often did well: I wouldn’t mind having the money that Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson does, even if it did involve a mandatory, early, well-oiled retirement. I don’t know how important the resume-faking is to the careers of such people, but it may well have made the difference.

    (Obligatory P.S.: (1) I am morally opposed unethical behavior, even if it gets you ahead. (2) I have several real prestigious degrees and will not be using the same technique.)

  19. outstanding lesson for all my students that would love to choose thr easy turns in live. and a pleasure for me to read, because my resume has always been a mess of sudden turns and undocumented experience. love it

  20. This is great and a valuable lesson. Everyone when they are young has flaws and the true lesson here is how we create that bridge from inexperience to experience without anyone noticing. It’s like a magic trick.

    The second lesson is exactly the one you allude to: you didn’t need college to draw those diagrams. You needed just you.

  21. Lucky for you that Ben was experienced and had good interviewing skills. He took you through all your past experience, found out what you knew and did not. He probably also asked why you left each job.
    TopGrading is the book, if you are really interested in hiring. It is a hard skill to learn and hard to use when everyone is in a hurry.

  22. Steve, I’m so glad I ventured to see you in Detroit a few weeks back. You have provided me with validation for many aspects of the path I taken. My education on LinkedIn is listed as SoHK and a Masters in OJT. I haven’t had to send out a resume in some time but I’m waiting for the day to explain that it stands for School of Hard Knocks and On the Job Training. Education is an everyday experience. I love your point of: “It’s what you know not how you came to know it.”

    Cheers!

  23. What an amazing story…made me smile all the way!

  24. Business is filled with tough choices, many of them in the “gray area”. Whenever faced with a gooey ethical dilemma, my guide has always been my Dad’s “newspaper test”. It goes like this: if all the facts of the situation were published in the newspaper, how would you feel about that? What would people think about you? If they would disagree with your decision but support why you made it, that’s one thing…if they would think you were dishonest or unethical regardless of the outcome, that’s another.” Dick’s Newspaper Test works for me!

    P.S.: The “newspaper test” for lying on resumes would suggest one not do it. :)

  25. Today, I think, sending out resumes is much easier for people who never finished college. The technology world, especially, is full of smart and successful people who never finished college, and in many cases never started.

    Without completing college, you might even end up as the next Gates, Jobs, or Ellison, and everybody knows this.

    • Or, far more likely, you’ll end up of one of the hundreds of thousands unemployed drains on society, like 99% of people without at least a Bachelor’s Degree. But hey, keep chasing that dream of becoming the next Gates. Wow.

      • Exactly that kind of education bias and degree prejudice that has left so many intelligent and deserving people out in the cold. Not just of your generation, but boomers without degrees who worked their way up to professional positions who now find themselves shut out because they don’t have a piece of paper that says they sat in a classroom once and learned something they don’t need or use, including authors, scientists and inventors with patents.

        • Actually, this type of employment filtering is not new. The same applied during the Great Depression. My grandfather was an engineer. He got work because he had a master’s degree even when the job did not actually require education. Many other qualified (and hungry) people did not… even when the job did not require his particular area of study.

        • Using Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, etc. are bad examples because they had connections to some important people already in place when they decided to drop out. For most people out there, getting a bachelors degree makes sense, if nothing else, to prove to someone that you have enough of a focus to get a long term project done, like finishing a 4-year degree.

          Entrepreneurs are exceptions to the rule, and like Steve’s story shows, they have to prove themselves extra hard if they want to show that they’re the right fit for the job. Thinking that companies that go through hundreds of applications everyday are somehow going to go out of their way to see how “deserving” you are isn’t ever going to happen, and never will.

          If you’re planning on dropping out or willingly not going to college, all I’m going to say is that don’t be naive about it, and you had better be the best of the best. Not just in your head, but undeniably and demonstrably so.

        • Ryan, I agree with you and would not council anyone to not seek a degree or other post secondary education. It’s the ticket to even being considered for most any job today. Lack of degree may not be a deal breaker but it is certainly a tie breaker, Rather than say “deserving” I should have been more accurate and said “qualified” since some very qualified people are sitting home right now while other less qualified, degreed individuals, who lack communication, interpersonal and leadership skills are getting a paycheck with far less to contribute than many unemployed others. Lots of folks came up through the ranks, when you stayed with companies throughout your entire career, and have gained knowledge and skills that far exceed what any sheepskin does. In fact, and I hope I am not oversimplifying, but many schools today are better known for parties, fun and social aspects than for academics. In fact, the reason that the US lags China, Russia, Germany etc. is much more about how US universities are no longer the pipeline to scientific, engineering and technical talent. However, if you need a finance or law credential, US universities are the place to be.

        • Ok, we can agree on some things then — I just get worried when people start saying what a “good idea” dropping out of college is, when a lot of times it’s people with average/above-average talent mainly not having the discipline to finish something. (I know because I used to be one — got dangerously close to dropping out of my undergrad, but am now glad that I finished it.)

          The situation we see in academia right now is an internal problem that has been brewing for years. Grade inflation, overcrowded classrooms, loss of talent/services due to budget cuts, administrative bloat, etc. Somewhat ironically these things have been happening *because* the universities have been trying to model themselves after the commercial market (i.e. the student as the customer), not in spite of it.

          There’s a lot of startups right now looking to disrupt the education market with “alternative” options, and universities are definitely on their list of targets. But these institutions have what these upstarts don’t — a brand that people recognize, and most of them are going to learn the hard way that doing it from scratch is going to be much, much harder than they think. And most of the time “alternative” really just means trade schools, which has already been around for centuries already.

          The university system is not perfect but it’s always been proven to be more reliable than some dude on the street trying to hawk his wares. The brand has waned in recent years due to various reasons, but the chances of them making a recovery is actually a pretty good one, given enough time. They’re slow to do things, but they do know how to adapt.

          Well went kind of off topic but thought the startup-minded people here might be interested in hearing some of this stuff. There are no new ideas in education right now, as far as institutional methods are concerned. (The content, though, always changes.)

        • I’m not a big proponent of US academia, mainly because I believe that it has become compromised by commercial interests. Here is what I mean. Medical schools started cranking out generations of pill pushers, due in large part to the influence of pharmaceutical companies in medical training. They have taken over the boards of medical schools, pumped them full of pharma money, built univeristy based schools, written the text books and funded and published peer reviewed journals and papers that favor the use of their products vs. other types of therapeutic treatments and more specifically, cures for diseases like cancer. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but in my view, if this system can be so thoroughly corrupted along such lines, then so can others. With jobs and industry leaving the US in droves, supposedly because the necessary talent doesn’t exist in the US anymore and nothing changes to stem the tide, then one begins to believe that it has somehow been engineered to happen that exact way.

        • Hmm weird, so we’re agreeing after all.

          But do you see the problem in saying that (a market-based) entrepreneurship is going to save education when the problems themselves have originated from commercial interests. I believe in what startup culture is doing, but it needs to be framed differently or it’s not going to catch on as fast as it could be doing.

          One of the biggest complaints by teachers is that they feel like they can no longer discipline or even criticize students in any meaningful way because the students feel entitled to be “treated well” as a “paying customer”.

          Going back to ethics — sometimes it’s about doing what’s right, not what makes the most money. Without this, entrepreneurship is just a prelude to more-of-the-same.

  26. Agree with you – I wish more people realized the same thing.

  27. Just remember – every time you lie, you’re valuing the worth of your word just a little bit less than before. It’s an integrity thing, but it’s also in your own interest, particularly if you enjoy being taken seriously.

    Probably the worse are the people who’ve lied so much during their lifetimes that they don’t seem to even take their own words too seriously when they open their mouth. People think that it won’t have an effect on their character, but it actually shows up in obvious ways around the people that they interact with.

    The more money/power you have, the less likely you are to hear the truth, and some people unfortunately come to like that sort of thing. Great leaders are the ones who buck that trend, staying down to earth even while they move up.

    They’re also a bit crazy, but I think a little bit of that is necessary to some degree.

  28. With all due respect. Your moral high ground is rather contrived. You were hired by someone who liked you. It didn’t matter that you didn’t have the education to back up your claims AND at a time when Silicon Valley was just starting. How lucky for you! People seem to forget that a resume is a marketing tool, albeit a brief one. A resume is how you market oneself for a job and like a salesman you sell yourself in the interview. You put Mensa on your resume to boost your resume. Why didn’t you put college dropout? Why not put the college you had attending? Is that lying? Omitting those facts on a resume using your logic would seem to point to that conclusion. However, since a resume is just a marketing tool you still got the job. So let’s stop with the holier than thou routine about cover-ups and what not. It’s pretty safe to be a teacher now and dole out little gems of wisdom but you should be wiser than to throw out blanket statements of half-truths based on your interpretation to condemn others for their dwelling in the grey area. Why not just say what the issue really is? If you are in a political argument anything that can be used against you will be used against you by your opponent. Don’t take this the wrong way. Honesty is the best policy but don’t trivialize it with general statements where bias judgment comes into the equation. BTW, are you pro-war?

    • What’s with the attack dog act? It is a good, thought-provoking article, but not one that would normally spur such anger. Also, what’s the pro war question have to do with anything being discussed in this thread? Seems like you are trying to imply something that isn’t there.

      • These types of articles hits some people’s nerves, mostly because it’s true. But criticism against these kinds of things tends to reveal more about them than the author, in most cases. “Shifty” people think they’re clever but a lot of the times they don’t know how obvious they come across to people who have even a basic understanding of human nature.

        Is he criticizing Steve for getting hired because someone at the company thought he was a good fit? Wow.

        He mentions that Ben Wegbreit later became his mentor, partner, and co-founder after he had worked through the company for a few years. I doubt any of that would’ve happened if he hadn’t been straight up with him from day 1, because that sets you up for a relationship that’s built on trust and integrity.

        A lot of people who take the “easy way out” often don’t have a clue as to the value that these relationships can provide. They’ve never done it before (ambition is one but insecurity is usually the main reason) so they don’t understand the benefits that this can provide.

  29. There is a general rule of thumb. People who don’t cheat, tend to strongly dislike people who do. People who do cheat, convince themselves that everyone does it, and it isn’t a big detail.
    Admittedly a ton of people cheat. But as someone who doesn’t cheat, if I find out that you did, I’m going to lobby to not have to have you as a co-worker.
    I have no idea how many people there are out there like me. Hopefully enough to discourage you from cheating. (Probably not, but I’d like to believe that it is not just a quixotic gesture on my part.)
    reply

    • You make an excellent point. Maybe I am niave, but I think most people are honest and generally try to do the right thing. Yet what we have learned from our Wall Street friends is that you do what you have to do to get what you want. I personally don’t subscribe to that, yet we compete for jobs against people who think that honesty is for suckers. As someone stated earlier, there are still lots of undiscovered C-suite types with forged university credentials.

  30. Mensa? Anybody proud of being part of an organization that accepts the top 2% is a complete joke.

    People only at the 98th percentile are mindless insects who nothing to offer the world. Nobody outside the top 1% has ever even formed an intelligent thought. Nobody outside the top 0.1% can understand science.

  31. Reblogged this on David Tyler York and commented:
    Fantastic post from Steve Blank on the little moral choices we make every day

  32. “Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.”
    — Sir Walter Scott
    And despite the cost of living, it’s still very popular, whether you
    are in the .01% or the 100%. Besides, there are no biting insects
    in Silicon Valley ….

  33. This is reassurring to read somebody with wisdom warning of the hazard of lying on a resume. As a job seeker who has never stated anything that was objectively untrue or even misleading on a resume or application, I like to think that it is the right move.

    But what of the ones who have lied and gotten away with it? I once found out after the fact that at least one co-worker of mine lied and exaggerated on a resume and in the interview, was promoted sooner than me and made more money at the time. I only learned that because she freely admitted it.

    Morally speaking, we could say that such people “are only fooling themselves,” but such dishonesty is not a victimless crime. I’m afraid to ask how many others have gotten hired in my stead or otherwise edged me out through chicanery that I have chosen not to attempt.

    As much as we like to believe in cosmic justice, the reality is that liars with just enough discipline can get as far as they need without being called out for it. In this story, Steve had the chance to lie, did not, and his employer-to-be rewarded his honesty by taking a chance on him. Integrity only wins out in the workplace if an employer is savvy enough to reward it.

    • Yeah, that’s the dilemma here, and what makes ethics such a difficult subject to talk about.

      But think about it this way — the only people you can fool all the time are stupid ones, and if you make lying a habit you’ll soon be surrounded by nothing but them. If things get out of hand, all the good ones will leave, maybe join another group that would end up competing against them. Then what goes around will eventually come around.

      The real world isn’t so black and white, but it’s necessary to maintain a level of ethical standard within any organization or the above will be the predictable result.

  34. Absolutely fantastic…I have never attended college, yet have been successful beyond what I ever thought possible. Thank you for your honesty…and this post.

    Be encouraged!

  35. But if the crime is big enough, the cover-up becomes “national security”:

    http://pulverizedtonearpower.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/pulverized-to-near-power/

  36. Thank you very much for a great bit of advice. I always felt I didn’t do enough with my degree in Finance and actually do marketing noow and have considered jumping back into the corporate world. Thank you.

  37. Great post.

    In my one and only resume fib, I put that I was a VP of a small construction company. It was true, but completely vanity, having no real VP experience.

    Ironically, I actually got the job that I used the position title on, but it was despite me putting it on there rather than because of it.

    I can’t agree more with this:

    “It’s not the lie that will catch up with you, it’s the coverup”

    Nothing is more awful than scrambling to protect a falsehood.

  38. This is a great story; too bad it is not more often duplicated. I have always found it darkly ironic that Military Leadership is lauded and applied liberally in Corporate America, heck Marine Corps leadership courses are even taught directly at Harvard Business School; yet having actually been in the Marines, done those same courses, and then having lead men in combat and had my leadership not only tested but sharpened and tempered in life or death situations, no credit is given for having actually done it, for real.

    Many times I am told “they only want a degree to…” “show that you can learn” or “to show that you can finish something”, or whatever, and so many times I have had executives say, “I don’t care if you have a piece of paper, only that you can do the job”, only to have my resume kicked back by an HR department or a recruiter who cannot see the forest for the trees.

    I was actually promoted once, and they had to move me back, because everyone assumed I had a degree, and when HR found out I didn’t, the company policy dictated that I couldn’t be in the position of the job I had already been successfully doing.

    Thank you for the article; I wish that this story and others like it would sink in, would get people to get it; but, at least your story shows there are exceptions to the rule.

  39. Dear Steve,

    I have the highest respect for you and your integrity, and want to thank you for this inspiring blog post.

    Integrity is my #1 value. I NEVER compromise on issues of integrity!

    I worked hard to earn my degrees, but they don’t directly apply to any of my work. I have come to believe that a formal education is just part of the process of becoming ready to contribute to the business world.

    We can teach technical skills, but integrity is something you can’t learn. You have to live it.

    Yay! Thanks for keeping my idealistic hope alive! – Kimberly

  40. Steve, I started headhunting in Palo Alto in 1979, and I remember when Convergent came on the scene that same year. They weren’t using headhunters at the time, but I watched them grow. It took me years to figure out the method used to interview you — and even today, few employers use it. I make my living teaching my own version of it.

    Go to the whiteboard, outline your understanding of the company’s problems and challenges, draw your brief plan to do the job, and show how it’ll pay off for you and the company.

    Corporate hiring has gone so far south of this simple idea that companies today complain about “the talent shortage.” There are 12 million Americans looking for work, and about 3.2 million vacant jobs. Even accounting for lazy, unskilled people, this is an employer’s market — so what’s going on?

    Some recent analysis shows that the candidate pool has not really changed. What’s changed is that companies pay less money, they spend far less than they used to on training and employee development, and they use software to recruit — software that dramatically reduces the chance of getting hired because each “question” on that form dramatically reduces your chances of making it through to a human manager.

    The guy who interviewed you knew how to let you show you could do the job profitably — without relying on that dumb piece of paper the recruiter gave him. That’s hiring done right. Managers need to learn how to do it again, and dispense with the dopey online application forms that reject highly qualified candidates.

    Thanks for sharing the story, and for the memories — loved it!

  41. Reblogged this on girlwithamicrophone and commented:
    This post is an example for not only the job seekers, but also employers who rely on conventional resumes. If you rely only on the number of degree’s/certificates on a persons CV, you fail as a recruiter. two words for you, Experience and Achievements!!

  42. [...] Blank’s July 3o post, Lying on Your Resume, apparently struck a nerve with his followers. A flurry of comments, predominantly on integrity, [...]

  43. If you have to lie to get the job it is not the job for you – let it go – it will be a disaster if you get a job that you had to lie for – you would be starting a long term business relationship based on a falsehood – and you will be most certainly found out – ask the prior ceo of yahoo who was just lett go – sidenote: I’m reading “The Startup Owner’s Manual” as we speak

  44. I too have faced that choice. Truth is that not only did I not get around to completing my degree I sorta forgot to complete high school. This did make things more challenging at times but never stopped me. It was suggested to me that I come give a talk at my kid’s high school about the importance of staying in school to have a good career like mine. I told them I would not know what to say.

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