Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Resume fraud.

My sorta whimsical parting shot in yesterday’s post mentioned resume fraud. As a human resources manager, I’ve seen quite a bit of it.

I’m not talking about people who are a little creative with their title of two jobs ago. “Managers” who worked alone, had no subordinates and little real responsibility, for example. Many resumes include a little “inflation” in terms of titles, salaries, and responsibilities.

(Reminds me of some of the creative accounting that occurs on the old 1040. But that’s the topic for yet another post.)

No, what I’m talking about is the outright lie.

Some of the lies I’ve seen have been really stupid. I mean, how hard is it to find out whether the applicant really did spend five years in a position of increasing responsibility with an accounting firm with a CPA certification, or sorted the mail there for a few months and finally learned what “C.P.A.” stands for?

One lady indicated that her CPA designation was pending.

“Pending?” I asked.

Oh, yes, (she finally admitted) it was pending her decision on whether or not to take classes, study up, and maybe schedule the exam in a few years. R-i-i-i-i-ight.

Then there’s the education prerequisite. One of our openings lists as a requirement either a high school diploma or a G.E.D. Of course all applicants claim to have one or the other. When I ask for a copy, the squirming begins.

One applicant explained that he’d lost his diploma several years ago. I offered to verify his graduation with his high school, only to learn from him that it had burned down and all records were destroyed in the fire. I asked what its name had been so I could check with the area’s school district. He claimed he couldn’t remember.

Me: “You can’t remember the name of your high school that burned down?”

Him: “Uh, no. Well, y’see, uh, that was a long time ago, and…”

Me: “OK. When did you graduate?”

Him: “Uh, I’m not sure.”

Me: “But I thought you told me you were in the class of 1994?”

Him: “Oh, yeah. That’s right.”

Me: “Well, where was your high school? I’ll call around and see if I can verify this.”

Him: “Where was it? Uh, you mean before it burned down?”

You can see where this conversation was going.

Even more insidious (to me) is the bachelor’s degree that comes with a nice certificate, an embossed gold seal, signatures and lots of calligraphy. It even comes from an institution you think you’ve heard of. But when you try to verify…

The most recent case I had was a gentleman who presented me with a Xerox copy of a degree certificate from Cal Southern. Looked very professional. But wait, I thought it was from the University of Southern California, abbreviated “Southern Cal.”

It took a little research, but “Cal Southern” is the name of a diploma mill located in the Bahamas. No buildings, no classes, and no course work. You just send them a check and a letter listing your “life experiences,” and they’ll issue you college credit for those experiences. If the check is at least a certain amount, they’ll issue you a Baccalaureate degree. For 30% more, you can have a Masters.

And guess what? For ANOTHER 50% you can have your very own PhD! And this is from an ACCREDITED university!

Accredited by whom, or by what agency? Oh, there are a number of them, but none is recognized by legitimate educational accreditation groups.

The gentleman with this certificate was not a liar, he was a victim. He admitted that he had never attended classes, but thought that his “life experiences” should legitimately entitle him to a degree. For an additional payment of several hundred dollars, he told me, Cal Southern would provide him with a fully certified transcript listing how they “converted” his life experiences into college credits.

This was simply a con game, and the unfortunate “mark” heard what he wanted to hear and convinced himself it had to be true. After all, he told me, his experiences OUGHT to be worth as much as hours spent in a classroom. He DESERVED that degree. And besides, they were ACCREDITED!

I did my best to let him down gently, explaining that we could only accept degrees offered by institutions whose accreditation came from certain groups. He was philosophical about it.

I heard later that he got a job elsewhere (near Houston, not too far from here) where his degree was accepted.

I hope he’s successful. For both his sake and the sake of those counting on his knowing what he’s doing!


VikiBabbles said...

I would call you a big fat liar and say that no one is that stupid, but I used to hire people for my dad's company, so I know better.


Karyn Lyndon said...

Awwww...come on...let a guy slide by every once in a while. Liars have to eat too!

Anonymous said...

While I was not in human resources, our company (The Boston Stock Exchange)let us office managers do the initial interviews and reading of the resumes - if we thought the applicant looked promising - we would okay them for H.R. to interview. I guess we could have been called Pre-H.R.
~ Anyway, I certainly can relate to your experiences with some people and their (p)resumes, as we called them. I particularly "liked" the ones who felt inclined to quote Shakespeare or Bacon in their resumes. Do I smell a blog of my own on job applicants?

Nankin said...

If life experiences qualified you for a degree, I wouldn't be sitting here as a malcontent desk jocket for thirty plus years. Maybe I could be a heart surgeon, an astronaut, an engineer or architect, a child psychologist, or lets go for a real biggy...President Nankin of the United States!

Duke_of_Earle said...

Viki, Uh, WTF? Sorry, I missed the reference.

Karyn, Yeah, they have to eat, but they can earn their bread working (or pretending to work) for someone else. I know, I'm not only a smart a**, I'm also a hard one.

Mike, Go for it! I'll enjoy reading it.

Nankin, Frankly, in a President (or any politician) I'd PREFER life experiences to classroom learning. Throw your hat in the ring!

Robin said...

Oh my....that is very bad. I don't even understand the mentality of lying. It just does not even cross my mind to lie!

Jodi said...

Good stuff-

I used to review applications and license therapists, where a Master's degree is required. One application came in with a Bachelor's degree transcript and an essay. The essay began, "In lieu of my Master's degree," and went on to discuss life experiences and her own history in therapy, which to her made her a likely candidate as a therapist.

the many Bs said...

That's interesting to hear from the HR side. Since I am currently shopping for a new job, it's a good perspective. For the record, I've never lied on my resume and my CPA is REAL. I'll even give anyone the number of my license and they can look it up! As an employer, I have never been defrauded on a resume.

Anonymous said...

Geez, aren't you picky. You want people to earn their diplomas and to tell the truth?

Hey, my PHd in brain surgery with a secondary doctorate in cold fusion is pending ... my new brain.