Cheaters Never Win

November 6, 2008 at 3:39 pm 3 comments

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

A couple of weeks ago it was reported that Sam Box,  President of Tetra Tech, was demoted because he  “had inflated his resume with a college degree he hadn’t earned.” He was demoted to the post of Vice President of Risk Management (do you see the irony with that????).  How many times have we seen high profile professionals “tweak” their resume to portray themselves to be something they are not.  Here are a couple other examples you might recognize:

GEORGE O’LEARY – George O’Leary was forced to resign five days after being hired as Notre Dame’s head football coach due to lies in his resume regarding his education at NYU and his football playing history.

SANDRA BALDWIN – Sandra Baldwin, president of the United States Olympic Committee, resigned after it was revealed that she had lied about having a Ph.D in English from Arizona State University.

I am no psychologist, so I cannot really begin to fathom the deep psychology as to why people choose to propagate these falsehoods.  I mean, on the surface I know why, it’s a competitive world world out there and you need to be one step ahead of your competition.  Who really verifies education anyways, it was 30 years ago, right?  Who is going to research the fact that you were actually FIRED from a job 15 years ago, and not laid off? Well, guess what folks, those people that maybe didn’t have the time in the past now have the internet and background check consultants who can verify pretty much everything.

It amazes me that people can actually feel comfortable doctoring up false resumes – it will always catch up with you, and if it doesn’t, any professional with an ounce of morality should not be able to sit comfortably knowing that they have short changed themselves, their company, and their peers by making themselves out to be something they are not.

I would go out on a limb and say that those “inaccuracies” that one chooses to put on their resume, and ultimately get busted for, would not even matter if they had told the truth or let their breadth of experience speak for itself.  George O’Leary overstated his education and his college football playing time – a part of his life that was 30 years prior to his being “had.”  All the experience that he had up to that point developing game plans, coordinating offenses & defenses, and motivating young men to rise to the competition on the other side of the ball would have sufficed for him earning the head coaching job with one of the most prestigious and prominent college football programs in the history of the sport.  Boy did he blow it.   My thoughts hold true for Sandra Baldwin, Sam Box, and anyone else who chooses to play with that fire.

There is a simple solution to this, you know:  TELL THE TRUTH!

If you are a few credits short of your Masters Degree, note it on your resume.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, then postpone any job search or application for promotion and go back and finish up!

If you are not an active member in good standing with a particular association but think you can put it on your resume because you think no one is going to verify it, DON’T.

If you were only directly responsible for generating $1M in revenues/contracts for your employer during the past calendar year, don’t put down $2M!

You catch my drift.  I’m a straight shooter, and if I’ve made a mistake or wronged you, I will admit it.  It may be a hard pill to swallow, but I’ll admit it.  We all make mistakes and have likely all wronged somebody somewhere along the way, as unintentional as it may have been.   It may be very difficult to fess up on the spot or deal with it at a particular moment in time as you look yourself in the mirror; and it may be easier at the moment to just “let it slide.”  But in the long run, it will catch up to you.  Someone will eventually catch onto it, and if they don’t, are you then able to feel comfortable knowing that you cheated somewhere along the way to get where you are right now?


Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Issues, Uncategorized. Tags: .

Finding A Job In A Down Market. Generation “O” and Civil Engineering

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carlvoth  |  November 14, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    As I dont condone this type of actions the real questions should be and that was not reported in the article How was his job performance. In 2004 he was the president of the firm. Did the the firm profit, did he put the share holders and and the other employees at the firm at risk of losing thier job? Did he steel thier retirment money and over inflate thier stocks, where he could buy 15 homes. I would much rather have 6 good years of real world experience than a kid with a masters degree that thinks thier entitled to something.

  • 2. Civil Site Design  |  November 9, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    It doesn’t matter if some (or most) cheaters win as Niranjan says. How about self respect and a good conscience? If you want to put something on your resume – earn it.

  • 3. Niranjan  |  November 8, 2008 at 3:33 am

    I can say 99% of the time cheaters win. Author of this article stress emphasis on very rare example. What if the person say that he got some design (engineering) experience in his 20 year work? People cheat and will continue to cheat. there is no end.


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