I'm on the market – again – and I've never seen such competition as I'm finding in this job market. I was at my last job seven months and left before I was fired. I read a book that says you can lie about certain things on your résumé and omit a negative experience, much as advertisers don't mention what's wrong with a new product. Do you agree?
Haven’t all of us been tempted to “fudge” our qualifications a bit to appear more qualified? One company that does background checks has found that well over half of all resumes contain false information. Background Information Services has found that most people stretch the truth about their work and educational credentials.
This one hit close to home for me. A few years ago I was asked to write a bio that would be sent out with a press kit for my new book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. My educational background was, to be very kind, inconsistent. I was attention deficit before it was cool. Instead of having accommodations and testing and medication I was called into the guidance counselor's office and chastised for underachieving and laziness. Those are indeed great motivators. I loved the line from Donald Miller's book To Own a Dragon. Miller was describing the difficulties of paying attention in school.
"I felt I was on a merry-go-round, hearing every fifth sentence. The rest of the time I wondered what a civilization of puppets would use for currency."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is my brain. I just spent about ten minutes wondering what the puppets would use for currency. Maybe string.
At any rate, I survived high school with good enough grades to pass. With a clean slate I enrolled in Marietta College with a determination to show I could do well academically. I stayed interested for one semester and did well, even making the correct Dean's List for a change. After proving I could accomplish that goal my interest promptly turned to ping pong, pinball and Strat-o-matic baseball for the second semester. Not surprisingly, I dropped out after my freshman year to become a disc jockey. That was a well thought out strategy.
As I examined my educational credentials for my book bio here is what I had to put on the table.
College drop out.
Marginal ping pong player.
1972 high game on the Play Ball pinball machine - Student Center, Marietta College
Not exactly Algonquin Round Table material. I would have loved to embellish the old academic credentials. But it was like my grandpa used to say when he noted that you can't polish a, uhhhh, well never mind what grandpa used to say. Even though I have had some success here and there my lack of “credentials” was a source of shame for me even as my career advanced. It didn’t help that I married into a family of advanced degrees. Anyone or anything that made me feel stupid would trigger that shame and caused me to try way too hard to “prove” I was smart and capable. So I reached a crossroads in my journey of self-esteem when I sat down to write my bio.
You will notice that there is nothing mentioned in my book bio about my stellar educational background. My philosophy? “There’s nothing to see here. Move along.”
Like Donald Miller I found my refuge in reading and research. I learned that you never stop learning. And something incredible happened in my life. I realized the miracle of how God can use anyone, even a slacker like me. Getting puffed up with pride is not an option for me when it comes to my academic credentials but I can be quite content in who God says I am.
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12, NLT)
That is who God says I am. His child. Wow.
So here is my educational and job resume with no embellishment.
Education: One year of college
Clubs/societies: Member of Sam's Club
Job experience: Former disc jockey. Television director for twenty five years of Texas Rangers baseball telecasts (enough bad pitching for three lifetimes). Writer of two books that have sold enough to keep me in television.
Personal: Child of God and Follower of Jesus
Devoted husband of Joni (32 years this summer)
Proud father of three wonderful men and two beautiful daughter-in-laws
Blessed with wonderful friends and work associates
Sometimes I wish the top half of my resume could be tweaked a little. But the personal portion of my file is what matters. And there I am blessed beyond words…and that is no embellishment.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.