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Op-Ed: 'Blarney' Blumenthal and other resume creeps

By John David Powell     May 20, 2010 in Politics
Two recent incidents of inappropriately embellishing a personal history raise troubling concerns on many levels, particularly for those of us trying to land work in a faltering economy.
I’m approaching my seventh month without a job with nothing promising on the horizon. My laptop allows me to tailor my resume and cover letters to meet the requirements of potential employers. Because of ethical standards, and because of my years as a journalist, I avoid even the hint of resume creep.
I don't know if that is an actual term, but here are my definitions: Resume creep 1) The result of exaggerating or lying on one’s resume. 2) A person who knowingly exaggerates or lies on a resume to get a better job.
As many as 40 percent of all resumes have false information, according to executive recruiter Sunny Bates in a 2006 article in Forbes. A few years ago, INFOcheck, Ltd., based in Toronto, Canada, looked at 500 resumes evenly split by gender. Two-third of the men and one-third of the women fibbed or fudged on their resumes. HireRight, another resume checker, discovered misleading information in 80 percent of the resumes it investigated in one year, phony references in 27 percent, and fake degrees in 20 percent. Resume creep is so bad in the high-tech industry that some human resources experts believe more than 80 percent of Silicon Valley employees engage in outright lies.
Jobs seekers do not have a lock on lies. Massachusetts authorities this week charged Adam Wheeler, now 23, with 20 criminal counts related to a plethora of lies that got him into Harvard and nearly $50,000 in scholarships and awards. Reports say Wheeler supplied fake high-school and college information, including phony transcripts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Colleges and universities are notorious for not conducting thorough background checks on job applicants. After all, why would someone with a Ph.D. lie about degrees and experience? Let me provide a couple of examples of resume creeps I met in Louisiana.
Mr. Karate Man was a goofball who thought he discovered one of my sources at a university I was investigating. He threatened to tell the school’s president, whom I hammered weekly. When confronted with his error, the man told me he knew karate. Yeah, but I knew the state’s open-records law. Mr. Karate Man’s claim to have a Ph.D. from a school in England was pretty easy to check out, and it did not. The university kicked him off the faculty a few weeks later.
Then there was the guy whose alibi died somewhere in Siberia. Among his long stories was a master’s degree from American University. He told me the only person who could verify his non-existent degree was an alleged adviser who died in a traffic accident in Siberia. And, this fellow’s claim to have a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University also was a lie. He ended up in a federal prison, but not because of his phony academic record.
The good folks of Connecticut will have to decide if perpetuating false recollections about military service is enough to deep-six the political career of Richard Blumenthal, the state’s Democratic Attorney General who wants to be a U.S. Senator. News reports this week laid out how “Blarney” Blumenthal has gone around the state inferring, and sometimes outright detailing, his service to the nation during the Vietnam War. Instead of fighting enemy combatants, Blarney fought the Selective Service and obtained five deferments between 1965 and 1970, the year he joined the Marine Reserves, thereby assuring his tour of duty involved gardening and community service.
When confronted, Blarney held a news conference to say he misspoke, or, in plain language, he lied.
Blarney Blumenthal carries the bulk of the shame for his invented life, and the good people of Connecticut and the state’s intrepid journalists carry their share. More people live in the Houston area than in the entire Nutmeg state, so it is hard to believe no one in his family, in his neighborhood, or in his schools remembered how people spat upon him when he returned from ‘Nam, or that he was the captain of the Harvard swim team, two subjects existing in print but not in reality.
Adam Wheeler broke the law for reasons only he knows, and the courts will decide his future. Blarney Blumenthal fabricated a war record for his political gain, and the people of Connecticut will decide his future. In doing so, they should consider that the character of a person chosen to lead says much about the people who choose to follow.
It is one thing to be a resume creep and another thing to condone one.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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