The fine line between deceive and achieve

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Many believe there's a thin line between love and hate. Personally, I'm still on the fence and somewhat baffled by this depiction. Love and hate are two emotionally charged words that are polar opposites. However, since both feelings involve a great deal of passion, and passion is said to borderline insanity, I guess it's no stretch to see a line drawn.

But if we're haphazardly drawing lines in the sand, there is another, less touted, groove that I will make ... The fine line between those who deceive and achieve. The fact that the two key words in this statement rhyme may be all it takes to make this phrase a catchy one.

In the business world, many believe that it is a necessity to have robust accountability measures in place. When something doesn't meet forecast or go as planned, somebody needs to be held responsible.

Unfortunately, the lack of accountability measures and sheer acts of evasiveness may be more common and palpable at individual contributor or lower management levels, but it also exists at the very top of organizations; which is why key leaders like the CEO, CFO and Sales EVP work very carefully to choose every word. But before we delve into some of their tactics, let's first discuss the origin of where the chicanery begins, the resume.

A recent survey from Career Builder finds that 58% of employers have caught embellishments or downright lies on resumes. The most common offenders include:

57% embellished their skill sets
55% pumped up responsibilities
42% fiddled with dates of employment
34% inflated job title to sound more impressive
33% exaggerated academic degree(s)
26% lied about work history
18% false accolades or awards.

When I think of a padded resume, it's hard not to be reminded of Scott Thompson, former Yahoo CEO, who was quickly booted by the board after only four months at the helm for claiming to have a degree in computer science when he didn't. What's more alarming than Scott's dishonesty at the top-level is to question how many other charlatans have slipped through undetected.

It's never easy to identify less than honest behavior when it occurs and those who pull it off are usually quite good at it. This doesn't mean that we should believe everything we hear or not be inquisitive by questioning those things that don't appear to add up. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was established in 2002 to raise the bar on accounting standards, and ultimately protect investors against the financial reporting scandals observed from publicly traded companies like Enron and WorldCom.

This type of policy and auditing has helped but it's not foolproof. There are still many in the organization who have much to lose and will go through great lengths to spin the story. Remember how desperate times call for desperate measures. Listed below are a few examples of when executives have tried to put lipstick on a pig or view the landscape through rose-colored lenses.

When stock price is low - Beware of those companies who buyback company shares as a tactic to improve earnings per share (EPS) numbers. While others may waste time and money on performing a reverse stock split. Learn the reasons why The Street values the company where it does.

When sales are stagnant or declining - Beware of the person who's neck is on the line with everything to lose, or those multi-million dollar orders that drop during the last second of the quarter. Always be watchful of those who have the most to gain financially; e.g., quotas and performance based bonuses.

When company needs funding or is being acquired - Beware of statements, claims, generalizations and anything else that isn't proven. When the data or reporting is incomplete or gets overly complex, it's typically for good reason. Spend may be improperly pooled or accounted for and unconventional assessments can be created to spin false signs of promise.

When new products get released - Beware of the claims that sound too good to be true or of those who face tremendous pressure to perform by a certain date. The immediate need for top-line revenue growth tempts many to risk the release of a product before it's ready. This may result in recalls, lawsuits and expose the company to even greater damages down the road.

When executives turnover at top positions - Beware of companies with high attrition rates. When a company cannot hold on to its talent, it's for good reason. Unfortunately, the specifics are very rarely shared or publicized throughout the company. This is to avoid a mass exodus. So, at the end of the day, if you weren't paid substantially to be the last person standing ... don't take it personally it's just business.

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"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found Continue Reading

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"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential to read."

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10 Responses

  1. machnolee
    Honesty is far more important and far less common than we realize. One of my favorite quotes by Abraham Lincoln is from a letter he wrote to a young lawyer: "resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer." Thanks for the post.
    • I fully agree with you Machnolee. I have another blog post titled, "a million ways to spot a liar" that you may also enjoy. Thanks for the quote from Honest Abe. So true and on point!
      • Hello Carmine, I can't say I have ever lied on a resume before, I would have been too afraid of getting caught. LOL I do get your point though, there are so many people in this world who hype up the claims of themselves or their products. Oh yeh I have been suckered into this one more then once. how do you say been there, done that? Great Article, Thanks for sharing.. Chery :))
  2. Hey Carmine Great article, and what you say is so true. I recently ran across a resume from an ex-colleague and I was amazed by his claims of what he had achieved. Just shows you what some people will do. Thanks Andy
  3. Why don't companies check the application prior to hiring? Why do they leave it until someone has been in post for a certain amount of time? Here in the UK a local school decided to save money on background and authenticity checks. Then after 4 years they discovered their head teacher had embezzled 20k from the school. Background checks would have uncovered that their candidate had zero teaching experiences or the qualifications for the job.
  4. When I first started out in the freelance world, I embellished my resume. At least, looking back that is how I see it. I never lied, but I was VERY careful in my word choices. I think it may have been a lie of omission looking back. I always made sure I fully trained and applied for jobs that I felt like I could handle ... but honesty has taken me MUCH further and I don't feel even the need to add "fluff"
  5. Carmine, I was not aware anyone would do a research on this topic ... since as far as I know almost everyone lies and cheats when writing a resume.. or as "Career Builder" put it, 58% of employers have caught embellishments or downright lies on resumes." Wow, so now it's in the open.. what is next? I am happy I do not need to present my resume anymore. Thanks for sharing this interesting article. -nickc
  6. Hi Carmine, Really good article and I am happy to say that I haven't lied on any resume mainly because I never wrote one. I am with Chery if I had I too would have been terrified of getting caught. Thanks for sharing Gillian
  7. Carmine, You make a valid case against the few who have no ethical beliefs. That is what morals are to keep us in line. More of us are helping people. Realize that being yourself and transparent. Brings more people to evaluate your talents and not waste valued time. If you are one looking for employment, many companies subcontract headhunters for hire screenings. Saves them money in the process. Yet, false information is just going to get one blacked balled, per say. We are supporting allot of job searches, with my company. Yet, we start with building a foundation for each person. All our services are free. So, this leaves everyone feeling comfortable to allow us to get this right. You have opened my eyes to some serious stats. I wonder what are your sources or do you just use the one? Are these stats global or only in your area? Valid questions and love to get some replies to all these comments. Thank you for sharing something worth value to all of us on each end of the process.
  8. Hello William Amis, Sorry I do not take the time to respond to my comments on blog posts. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate them though. I have a live forum where I can discuss such questions or more importantly questions on my book. My email is carmine.delsordi@gmail.com you can always contact me there, as I don't look back on old posts. For the record, I site my sources in all posts and often include links to more information. This article had just the one; which is from Career Builder and on US only. Most of what I write is from personal experience ... Opinion pieces ... and then I will find one or two supporting documents that align with my views or provide a different and expanded perspective. I hope this helps. Please know that I am very appreciative of anyone who could help get my work into the hands of my target audience ... college seniors, recent graduates, or rookies to the business world. Everything I write is to help broaden the perspective of this ambitious crowd. Best regards, Carmine

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