Lies in your resume

Original author: Steve Blank
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Questions from reporters about where I studied helped me remember the day I had to decide whether to lie in my resume.

I really want this place

I got my first job in Silicon Valley thanks to my sagacity (for my part) and despair (for my first employer). My resume was short: four years in the Air Force, designing emergency protection for a nuclear reactor , a startup in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and, in general, that's all.

While working in the second startup (Zilog), life and career made an interesting turn. I was found by a recruiter (now he works in product marketing) and wanted to introduce me to the leadership of an interesting new organization that was producing something called a “workstation”. “This company is engaged in the development of technology, and your biography is wonderful. Why don't you send me a resume, I'll pass it on. ” A few days later, the recruiter called me back. “Steve, you did not complete the education column. Where did you study?"

“I have not graduated from college,” I replied.

There was silence at the other end of the tube. “Steve, vice president of sales and marketing, used to be the head of the technical department, he is a professor of computer science at Harvard. Prior to that, he worked in the Advanced Engineering Division of the Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto . Most of the sales team are former engineers. I cannot represent a candidate without a college degree. Do something."

I still remember this moment of the conversation, in which I realized that I had a choice, but I did not yet realize how deep, important and significant it was. It was easy to lie, and for some damn thing the recruiter himself urged to do it. He said that "no one checks education anyway." (That was long before the network appeared.)

My updated resume

I said I’ll think about it. And I really thought for a long time. A few days later I sent him my updated resume, and he handed it to Convergent Technologies. Soon, I and several other people were invited for an interview. I don’t remember all the people I met (my potential manager, various engineers, etc.), but I will never forget the interview with Ben Wedbreith, vice president of sales and marketing.

Ben took my resume and said: “You know, you were invited because I never saw such a resume. You have not entered a university and there is no education column. It says “ Mensah ,” he said, pointing to the part where education information is usually located. "Why?" I looked at him and said: “I thought Mensa could get your attention.”

Ben stared at me for a long time, and I felt uneasy. Suddenly, he asked: “Tell us what you did at your previous places of work.” It seemed to me that this would be another interview with the story. But after the very first phrase “My first startup used a coaxial television cable to implement a local network of control system processes” (which 35 years ago before Ethernet and TCP / IP was a pretty modern solution) Ben blurted out: “Please draw a diagram of the system on blackboard. " What? Draw? I was soaked for half an hour of drawing, trying to remember the head nodes, the width of the forward and reverse directions, amplifiers, etc. I could hardly keep up with Ben's stream of questions. And there were gaps, the details of which I could not remember. I finished the story and already wanted to sit down, but Ben stopped me.

“Since you're at the blackboard, let's talk about your other two past jobs.” I could not believe it, I was spiritually exhausted, but we talked for another half hour: I again drew the diagrams, and Ben asked questions. At first we talked about ESL (I carefully told the valid ). Then came the Zilog microprocessors, and I drew the architecture (it was easy, I taught it) and other system diagrams for an example (already more difficult).

Finally, I was able to sit down. Ben looked at me for a long time without saying a word. He got up and opened the door, motioning me to go out, shook his hand and said: “Thank you for the visit.” What the heck? And it's all? Did I get a job or not?

That evening, the recruiter called me. “Ben liked you. In general, he had to convince the vice president of marketing, who did not want to hire you. Congratulations."


Three and a half years later, Convergent Technologies became a public company, and I became vice president of marketing and worked under Ben. For the rest of my career, Ben was my mentor at Convergent Technologies, my colleague at Ardent, and partner and co-founder at Epiphany. I never again used the Mensa trick in my resume, and the education item was always left blank.

But every time I read about leaders around whom a scandal with a fake resume flared up, I remember the moment when I had to choose.

Lesson learned:
  • Throughout your career, ethical dilemmas will occur.
  • Choosing the wrong path is often the easiest solution.
  • These decisions at the time of their adoption may seem to be tricky, insignificant methods.
  • Some decisions will have consequences later.
  • You are not stained by lies, but by the fact of hiding the truth.
  • Choose wisely.

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