Editorial Board 2000-2001
Check, check and check again
Check, check and check again
Have you ever lied on your resume?
The practice of embellishing one's status or accomplishments in order to improve the chances of getting a coveted position seems to have become pretty common-place these days. It is generally accepted that everyone exaggerates on their resume, to varying degrees. However, with the recent revelations of two incidents on the campuses of Canadian universities, this trend has now been thrust into the academic spotlight.
At the University of Regina, an assistant professor named Lana Nguyen was forced to resign when it was discovered that she possessed none of the academic qualifications she claimed to have held.
At the University of Toronto, 30 first-year law students are currently embroiled in a controversy pertaining to the fact that they lied about their marks on applications for summer positions at law firms, and that a professor allegedly implored them to do so.
While the actions of the law students may have had political undertones, the incident with Nguyen raises some serious questions. How is it possible that someone who was completely unqualified to teach was hired at all? Applicants may exaggerate their experience, but the onus is clearly on the employer to investigate these claims, to conduct background checks in order to ensure that there is at least some kernel of truth to them.
That seems pretty basic, right? It is even more important when you are dealing with something as vitally important as education. The fact that an individual without any qualifications can get hired and hold on to a job for three years makes one wonder; what exactly are the hiring policies of the administration at Regina? Didn't anyone bother to pick up the telephone and confirm that Nguyen did indeed hold the degrees she claimed she had? Didn't anyone sit down and interview her? What about references?
It seems probable that if the administration had attempted any of those it would been quite obviously apparent that Nguyen was not what she claimed to be. But beyond that, once Nguyen got the job, why did it take the administration three years and numerous complaints from her students to decide to investigate?
We are in a day and age where employers must expect applicants to tell a few white lies to make their resumes look a little better than is the case. Bearing this in mind, employers must have even more vigilance about fraudulent applications when the hiring process takes place.
There may not be any answers to what happened at U of R, but a solution is clearly evident. The screening process for potential employees must be made more rigorous and far more intensive. It is not like it would be difficult; there are entire companies like Levine and Associates and Barrada, Inc. that do nothing but check out references and qualifications.
Maybe universities should look into hiring one of these groups, or creating one of their own, in order to prevent this from happening again.