EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Many years ago I had to buy my son a car to get to school. So, we went down to the local used car lot and I spotted a Ford Escort. It was kind of cute. If memory serves, it was black and it was a stick shift.

Having grown up poor, I wasn’t new to buying a used car. I opened up the hood and the engine was spotless. I was kind of surprised given the number of miles on the car and when I asked about it, the dealer told me he had steam cleaned the engine. Among the many things he told me he fixed was that he had replaced the windshield. Hard to sell a car with a cracked windshield.

We took it out for a spin, and since I knew how to drive stick shift, I drove. It seemed to be in good condition. The interior had also been cleaned spotless. I turned on the radio, and it seemed to work just fine.

After we took possession of the car, it didn’t take long for things to start falling apart. The first “discovery” was that the radio only had one station. Well, the dealer offered to send the radio out for repair. Not wanting to be a pest, I didn’t call every day, but after a few weeks when I did, he said he had the radio back, but he had lost my phone number. Yeah, right.

It wasn’t too long after that the clutch went, and I suppose I should mention that the head gasket also sprang a leak and we had to have that fixed as well. I honestly didn’t spend a lot of money buying the car, and I suppose I didn’t spend a lot of money fixing the car. After all, it was a small car and there wasn’t a lot to it. Still, it was more than a little annoying.

Someone had cleaned up the car as you would expect them to do to make it more presentable, but in doing so they had disguised the essential nature of the vehicle. It had a lot more wear and tear on it than was apparent. To quote a commercial I saw a while back, they had put a little lipstick on a pig. Or, as we used to say when I was growing up, they gave the car a gasoline rag tune up.

Recently I published an editorial on “Little white lies.” Some of my editorials spark more than a few comments, especially when they contradict “conventional logic.” I suppose I have never viewed myself as conventional, and that should explain most of it.

The core of the argument I hear about hiding dates and leaving off many years of employment to appear younger assumes three critical issues are true which clearly are not for most of our members.

The first is that they are able to create a resume that appears to be totally consistent with their being younger. I’m sure no one will notice that your first job out of college was as a Chief Financial Officer and if they do, I’m sure they will believe it. NOT. Talk about getting busted.

The second critical issue is that if they are fooled by your skillful manipulation of your resume, that when they find out as in when they actually meet you, that they won’t be mad at you for fooling them. If you would like to test this hypothesis, please call the used car dealer who sold me that Ford Escort. I can assure you I wasn’t pleased. Yes, he never actually made any representations that the car would last forever, and perhaps my son wasn’t as gentle with it as he should have been, but that is actually neither here nor there. I felt foolish, and that is something I believe you never recover from.

A lot of people believe that good advertising makes them buy things they don’t need. Actually, good advertising creates trial, in much the same way that a good resume causes people to call you in for an interview. What causes the “you know what to hit the fan” is when the advertising promises don’t even come close to the perceived value of the product based on the ad. Angry customers tell 10 people. Happy customers only tell one. Hopefully that puts the disappointment factor in perspective.

The third critical issue is the belief that anyone who reads resumes for a living is ever fooled. After you have digested your first batch of 5,000, not much escapes your notice. Inconsistency is as easy to spot as the invalidity of a cash chit on an expense report. (And, I’m sure you have never been fooled by one of those.)

So, take your best shot at disguising your background. Trim off a few years. Get a face lift. Lose a few pounds. Buy all new clothes. Never tell anyone your year of graduation from college.

None of this will disguise the fact that you are older. The sad part of this charade is that you are diminishing the value of that great product that is you. That “been there, done that” expert who has seen it all and learned from it many times over is reduced to being a sneak.

You may as well have taken a gasoline soaked rag to that resume of yours for all the good that it will do. (By the way, if you do, it’s not a good idea to be smoking at the time.)

Regards, Matt

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