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The Hiring Game – Resume Lying: Risks, Clues, and Sorry (cont’d)

Blame the Internet?
Dr. Richard White, the director of career services at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, said he believes the upsurge in lying on resumes is a direct outgrowth of the Internet age.

"Many resumes are sent electronically these days," said Dr. White. "It seems there is a kind of looser ethics about what appears on a computer screen. We work very hard to prepare people for the realities of the work place, where any kind of misrepresentation can be damaging to a career. 

"It does not make a lot of sense," he said. "At some point, you are going to be caught, so why not just keep it above board."

Dr. White said Rutgers did a random survey and found that 20 percent of students submitting resumes to the career services office lied about their grade point averages, something easily detectible. Some of them rounded up to the nearest tenth, which is, to be sure, not all that bad in the scheme of things, but many, he said, just added a whole point.

"If they had a 2.6, they made it a 3.6," he said. "It is as if they were going to pass it off as a typo if they got found out.

"I just think people are more loose about information than in what we called the good old days," Dr. White said. "It used to be that you had to submit a paper resume every time you applied for a job. I think that it must have been that that was a tangible act, something you had to repeat physically and mentally, so you felt yourself more accountable each time. Now it is pushing a button, sending a bunch of type on a computer screen off somewhere. It is like it just isn’t real."

For the machine operator, too, this is a different era. In those similar good old days, if a machine operator wanted a new job, he or she usually just went down the road to a shop or manufacturer and maybe filled out an application or just talked to someone. Now, more and more, manufacturing employers are asking for formal resumes.

"Certainly, when I started, in the mid-1980s, machinists did not use recruiters," said Medvec. "So they didn’t have resumes. They filled out applications and waited to be called. Now, with recruiting more prevalent in the skilled trades and all the job-dot-coms, suddenly these guys need resumes. They don’t know how to do them. Then they worry that they aren’t good enough, so there is more and more lying going on.  It is sad, but it is true."

Educate or Cut Back
The way out is either a long one of education or a short one of cutting back. Dan Walters, a plant manager for American QC Systems, a service subsidiary of American Torch Tip in Bradenton, Florida, said he looks forward to a future where machinery is so sophisticated, the skill of the operator will be in choosing the right part, not honing the tool.

"We’ve actually tried to minimize the amount of workers we need who have to know sophisticated things," said Walters. "We’ve been hiring a lot more unskilled workers, especially on second and third shifts. We’ve been going to different kinds of machines. It has sometimes taken us years to develop the right ones with the right parts, but that way, we don’t have to worry about false resumes and things like that."

Part of the false-resume syndrome may be, strangely enough, the fear that American manufacturing is going through a rough patch. Headlines scream out about tens of thousands of jobs being lost in places like Delphi and General Motors, yet machine shops routinely have tool-making jobs available.

There is a disconnect there, though, said Medvec and Solak, the head-hunters. First of all, the jobs the people are leaving at Delphi and General Motors are often 25-year jobs with huge benefits, something smaller shops can’t, or hardly want to match.  Second, many of those workers have been doing the same thing for many years, so they may not have the training to work the new machines at another employer.  Third, there can be a geographic malaise. Someone losing a job in Ohio may not want to pick up and move to Kansas or Indiana or New Jersey for another job.

No Time for Training
"The big thing, too, is that things are going so well in some shops that there is no time for training," said Solak. "If I’ve got to run at full capacity now, I can’t afford my superstar machinist to spend a few days teaching someone to use the CNC Swiss."

So the machinist lies about his qualifications and hopes he can figure things out when he gets on line. In a strange way, there needs to be a small shop slowdown, so that more people get through training on the more precision machines, according to Medvec.

"It will happen eventually, just a catch-up," he said. "Then people won’t have to lie, I guess."

"It may well be all out of fear," he said. "Fear that there will be no jobs. Fear that a hole in employment will not get you the job. Fear that if you were at a company too long or too short – that isn’t good. Maybe it is the fear of the Internet, too."

Before it was just Joe down the street competing with you for a job, and maybe you would both get one, and everything would be fine. Now, it is the guy in Iowa on the Internet looking for your job, too.

"The guy on the machine, the guy who is his supervisor, the guy even in the CEO chair, all could be lying. That is why more companies are coming to us," said Medvec.  "I don’t want to make it sound like lying on resumes is good for my business, but my reputation is on the line when I see that lie on the application, so I will do my best to make sure the employer doesn’t have to deal with it."

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