They Say It's the Coverup That Gets You Nailed

An organization has been telling me about a job they’re trying to fill, and while they want me to be careful to keep them anonymous, it is fascinating.

It’s a web manager type job that one would think would offer up a ton of candidates, as it’s located in a city where the job market is currently seen as employer-friendly, especially in the creative-editorial-marketing fields.

They’ve had a hard time finding someone (partly, from what I can tell, due to the manager and recruiter not totally understanding each other and what is wanted for the role), but finally did find someone a couple weeks ago. Someone they were excited about — not perfect, but certainly right up the alley of what they were looking for. 

The background-checking company, in a routine check of the person’s education experience, was told by the (prestigious) college the person attended that there was no record of their graduation. The background-checking firm told the employer, who asked the candidate what was up with that. They didn’t get a clear answer other than a half-hearted response that it may have been a mistake. 

The person has a social media following and a whole career and contacts and a resume and what not — the resume stating they received a B.A. degree. Apparently, they didn’t.

It was an odd lie. I’d think if you didn’t graduate, you might list the college you attended, but not lie. Perhaps you’d not say “B.A.” and hope the employer either didn’t mind that you didn’t graduate, or didn’t notice. In other words, I like to think most people would omit truthfully, not lie outright. 

The hiring process and interviews and all started anew.

A couple days ago I asked how that was going. And they told me that despite the initial trouble filling the job, a second great candidate had emerged. As far as this new person goes — the company was at least, maybe more, excited about them than they were the first candidate. Everything went great — the personality/profile test, the interviews, and so on.

The background check began. The university had a record of their attendance in college. But – no evidence of a diploma, according to the background-checkers.

The hiring organization emailed the candidate, who emailed back that it must have been a mistake, they’d look into it, and by the way, the job they’re currently in is going well, they’re going to stick with it after all, so thanks for the interest.

Again, this second candidate seemed to have been caught in a significant lie — not a short omission of an “employment gap” or slight stretch of dates or a tinkering around with a title (say, mentioning they were a VP and not a regional VP) but an outright fib, apparently easily caught by a basic background check.

The company emailed me to say that “it was so needless in both cases. Had either/both of them just listed on their resume that they attended their universities but did not put down that a degree was awarded, it would have been fine w/us.”

They’re back to square one. They asked me if I knew why it’s so hard to find good people in a weak job market. I didn’t have a great answer; although I’ve read through the years about the many high-profile cases of people in high-up jobs being caught lying on their resumes, these two in a row seemed quite unusual. I’ll blog again about them when they update me on this hiring process.


The Intern Queen

Well, a new book and a review of a new book in the news this week had some critical things to say about Intern Queen Lauren Berger.

Since I don’t find Berger all that “odious,” I met up with her for lunch in Los Angeles (where, even in this town of celebrities, I was surprised to see a familiar face sitting next to us).

Below, we talk about unpaid internships, funding internship programs, virtual internships, and more. Apologies for the background noise.


The Latest Scam: College?

A new documentary released today argues that the obsession with college and where you or your kids attend college is one big scam, one involving streams of lies perpetuated by colleges to convince people the high costs of universities are worth it, as well as collusion between textbook-makers and schools to make people buy new, expensive books all the time.

This comes via the National Inflation Association. It says it isn’t against education; on the contrary, it strongly encourages it, but says people can get educated with far less money (and thus less debt) and far more utility than through college. 

The NIA says its president, Gerard Adams, is in “regular contact with the CEOs of over one hundred large multi-million dollar corporations and only about a dozen of them are hiring at this time. Of the dozen or so companies that are hiring, 100% of them are choosing who to hire based entirely on their experience and passion for the work that they do. None of them care one iota about whether or not the applicant has a college degree. Shockingly, several CEOs recently told Mr. Adams that in today’s world, those who didn’t attend college are actually more likely to stand out from the crowd.”

The association believes that the U.S. is nearing a disaster brought on by too much debt and too much reliance on government programs — disaster that will cause the dollar to crash and the wealth of most Americans to get wiped out over the next decade.

3-4,000 Employees to Join the Job Market

It’s looking like recruiters in California and elsewhere will have a new batch of candidates.

Cisco, as part of a cost-cutting, shedding-weaker-business-lines initiative, will be cutting somewhere around 3,000 employees, possibly 4,000. 

In California, which has boomed and busted through the years as the Cold War ended, the dot-com craze expanded and contracted, real estate grew and shrunk, and so on — the latest bust may be nearing an end.

In the northern part of the state (San Francisco to San Jose), tech companies may enjoy the feast from Cisco, as the LinkedIns and others of the Silicon Valley world expand, start up, and battle for talent. In many other parts of the state, real estate, construction, and government belt-tightening remain problems.

The Bamboo Ceiling

The issue of why Asian-Americans are sometimes very high achievers in school, but sometimes under-represented in senior management of companies, isn’t new. A former human resources executive wrote a book about the topic six years ago.

But, now the topic’s in the news as much as ever. Some reading for those interested:

  • A lengthy new feature in New York magazine, about there being “throughout corporate America, lots of Asians at junior levels, quite a few in middle management, virtually none in the higher reaches of leadership.” The theory offered, in short, is that Asian-Americans very generally speaking have been brought up to be more reserved, less questioning, and otherwise with characteristics that aren’t detrimental in school but may be on a corporate ladder.
  • A response in Forbes yesterday, which among other things says that the author, when reading the New York article, “kept thinking of exceptions to Yang’s sweeping claims about Asian behavior.”
  • And from a Slate column this week, the author says, about the New York article, “… every individual is marked by several overlapping forms of identity—not just ethnicity but also gender, class, attractiveness, intelligence, and distance in time and space from the emigrant country. Ignore these other factors and naturally everything becomes a simple reflection of ethnicity … in my professional life, for example, I’ve dealt with many of the issues he describes. I’m not as assertive as I’d like to be. I often fear that I’m more tenacious than creative or canny. These are precisely the “typical” Asian qualities Yang describes. But do I feel this way because I’m Asian? I could just as easily see those issues as a reflection of my status as a woman.”

Just Some Little Things on the Recruiting Grapevine

Tiny tidbits:

  • Securian launched a new site for financial advisor careers.
  • Verizon Wireless had much more success this year than last (“requests” up 383% over last year) with a mobile barcode campaign using Jagtag. In short, here’s how it worked: Verizon Wireless would hold campus events called “Wireless Wednesdays.” Lured by among other things the chance to win Verizon devices, students would interact with a barcode — like shooting a photo of it and emailing it. In return, the students were sent a recruiting video and were driven to a Verizon Wireless campus recruiting site.
  • Speaking of campus recruiting: I was talking today with Jennifer Sullivan, of Deloitte. She has been with Deloitte since 2005 and leads campus recruiting for tech jobs at Deloitte. She’s most pumped about the company’s MBAs Without Borders program, which it does with CDC Development Solutions. In a nutshell, the students who get accepted (about a half dozen annually, out of about 60 applicants and 300 eligible) go overseas for a month to do volunteer work in microfinancing, supply chain management, import/exports, or other areas. Other companies — Accenture, PwC, and others — of course each have different pet programs, but Sullivan says she likes two things about hers. One, it’s for new hires, not people who’ve been with the company a couple years, as some companies do it. Also, it’s consistent with the company’s “Where Leaders Thrive” brand — it gives people leadership skills and international experience, both desired by her candidates. Diane Borhani, from Deloitte, is speaking about the company’s award-winning college recruiting this fall.

Employees Say They'll Decide When to Go

Who’ll end the relationship between you and a given employee who works for you? Will the employee quit, or be let go?

According to one new telephone survey, 72% of employees say they’ll leave on their own free will, with 14% saying their employer will decide when they go. 

In July 2009, only 60% of employees said they’ll be the deciders.

One in four people, the survey says, are looking for a job at somewhere other than their current company.