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Albert D. Kallal
I went into grad school (not comp sci, but subject is beside the point), got as far as being ready to work on a thesis, but then left to go into the software industry. I'm always wondering how to answer checkboxes on forms or present this on my resume.
If I say I have only a BS, that creates the false impression I haven't gone beyond what a typical bachelor's graduate does in my field. If I say I have a Phd, that's plain not true.
With the credits and coursework etc. equivalent to a Master's, I'm tempted to answer that I have a Master's but explain it all when I get to a phone or personal interview. But even that isn't quite right, just the best false answer that comes closest to the situation.
A few online career sign-up/application forms have "some grad school" although such forms aren't the best way to land a good job.
Especially, how to describe this on a resume in a way that looks respectable and won't take more than one line?
Daren Scot Wilson
Sunday, December 13, 2009
When I had a BS + grad work and no grad degree yet, I did not list grad work on my resume, it didn't seem relevant.
My reasoning was I can say I have course work and am in grad school, in which case I don't have time for a full time job, or I can say I have course work and am not in grad school, in which case I am a quitter who doesn't follow through. Neither presented well. With degrees, it's best to either have one, not have one, or be currently getting one. Other states don't always look good.
Exceptions, things like Sergei who is still enrolled in his PhD program, but on permanent hiatus, and he is a high profile enough multibillionaire that everyone understands the situation just fine.
Also if you said on a resume you had a Masters, and then on the phone said you didn't, that would be the end of the interview. I don't care at all whether you have one or not, but I don't like sociopaths who tweak the situation to misrepresent. Not saying you are one of course, but finding out misrepresentation in an interview ends the interview because of the high risk that this is not the only time in their life they have decided to lie to gain an advantage. You either are the sort of person that does that or you aren't.
On a related topic, most people will say that "everyone lies somewhere on their resume". This is not true, but it is true that everyone who SAYS that everyone lies on their resume lies on their own resume. There is also a reasonable chance they clinically have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Part of this undesirable personality pattern is where a person can't tell the difference between themselves lying and everyone in the world lying. A narcissist can't imagine that others don't do the same bad things he does. A narcissist who is a sexaholic and abuser will believe that everyone does it, a narcissist who is an embezzler will believe that everyone does it, or would if they had the chance. A narcissist will destroy any business they join if they can, and there are a lot of them, so you have to be careful.
So how to out the resume liars? If I suspect fabrication, because of a slip up, then I will drop this bomb, "Everything looks great, we just need to get your signature to do a background check and verify everything you have said on the resume is correct. If there is anything you need to correct, now would be the time to make the corrections." They will then say everything is fine and sign the clearance to do a background check. I'll then say, "One last thing, if it comes back that there are any misrepresentations, you will be refunding the cost of the background search for this, which will be around $2000, but that should not be an issue because you've had a chance to look it over and vouch for the veracity of everything here." At this point, every candidate I've had to pull this on has gotten upset and withdrawn consent to do the background check. Not that I was going to do one anyway other than check their references, but I suppose I might someday if it ever got beyond this. By this time in the interview I'm pretty sure they are lying about something anyway.
With both Master and PhD degrees, the last steps (writing the papers, thesis and defending the latter) take at least 50% of the effort. For this reason alone, most people in both academia and the industry take the view that if you didn't complete a Masters/PhD, you don't have this degree and there is little to brag about. Some people add "A.B.D." on their CV ("All But Dissertation"), but it looks silly. You can't be have a child "all but delivery".
What you can do is you can list some particular achievements you had during your graduate school stint, like:
- published a paper
- completed a course on X
- passed a recognized and difficult exam or got a certification
But don't claim you've got a degree that you don't have. This *will* be a red flag for the employer.
On the other hand...
" I'll then say, "One last thing, if it comes back that there are any misrepresentations, you will be refunding the cost of the background search for this, which will be around $2000, but that should not be an issue because you've had a chance to look it over and vouch for the veracity of everything here." "
I was always VERY HONEST on my CV and took pains to write it so that it does not in the least exaggerate my capabilities. Nevertheless, if I heard such a spiel from an interviewer, I would of course have thought "here's a guy who's trying to rip me off for $2000" and ended the interview then and there.
If someone told me AFTER I SIGNED that the background check could cost me $2K, I would stand up and walk out. Or, better yet, make the decision that day I wasn't taking the job but not tell them until their process was complete.
BTW, I don't lie on my resume, I don't lie in interviews and I don't lie on the job. If anything, I undersell and overperform.
Basically, the rule of the job market is that the candidate never pays for anything apart his own costs of looking for work (transport, mailing, food, etc.) This is a fundamental protection against scumbags exploiting the desperation of unemployed people. The type of people who charge "$2000 for a background check" or "£150 administration charge" is the type of people who employ foreign workers, confiscate their passports or even enslave women in brothels.
PS. I should have written "who employ foreign workers AND confiscate their passports".
Agreed. I know that and agree with your supposition. Not that I think Scott would hire/confiscate or run a brother, but there's a far better way of doing what he said than the way he said it.
I think he needed another cup of coffee before he answered that one. If you're pretty sure somebody lied, you're not going to taunt them with that line of crap ($2000), you'll just give them the old "We'll get back to you" and that will be the end of it. I've found that my sense of who is a fit and who is not is pretty refined; if they're not a fit, I'm not going to hire them (or give them a thumbs up in a team interview process)
"most masters programs don't require a thesis. "
Really? I think the opposite is true. I don't think a masters program which does not require a thesis is worth much. It's more of a training course.
A background check does NOT cost $2k. You can get civilian background checks as cheap as $10, but all they're checking at that price point are commercial databases for convictions and judgements. If you're looking to check degree status, credit and previous employers, you can spend $100-200. If you're doing the sort of background checks required for a security clearance, you'll spend a lot more than $2k. Figure on $15k for TS.
When my employer needs to send someone on-site, and the client requires a background check, I'm the one they pick. I've never been fired - which for most financial companies is an instant disqualification. As a result, I get to see what the background folks report.
Anyone threatening to charge back a background check for $2k is a conman and you need to be leaving that place before you get raped by a rusty corncob. Also, you need to ensure that you leave behind nothing with personally identifiable information and/or signatures.
as far as background checks go... I have had alot. Private sector and public sector(public(government) is far more detailed). A simple criminal and financial background check costs about $50 if the company has an account.
fewer companies check on your degrees, but some do. I have had degree checks before also. generally companies check for more junior level positions. Once you get experience your degrees don't matter much.
the thing is, most well paying jobs don't care if you have a masters degree. it is generally only the lower paying positions that care. I have 2 masters degrees. The only time I get contacted by people excited about my degrees are people who don't pay well. Companies that pay well just want to know if I can do the job.
To answer the original question, I left grad school for the software world in 1993, and I've been putting "coursework towards an MA in...." ever since. I don't think it's hurt me any.
Monday, December 14, 2009
The idea is not that you pay a fee to apply, the idea is that IF I already know you are lying, then I call you on it by saying that IF the background check shows that you lied, THEN you get to reimburse for the cost of the background check. Because YOU have committed fraud. Of course I would never expect anyone from the financial industry to comprehend that fraud is a bad thing and those who commit it should be punished. That idea is completely incomprehensible to employers like Goldman Sachs.
I have quoted you verbatim, nitwit.
Also: while blathering this nonsense about me, you make use of the fact that I, unlike you, I am not ashamed to admit to what branch of industry I work in. It takes a small coward to hide behind their anonymity to such extent, and vomit their balderdash. May you choke on it.
"They will then say everything is fine and sign the clearance to do a background check. I'll then say, "One last thing, if it comes back that there are any misrepresentations, you will be refunding the cost of the background search for this, which will be around $2000, but that should not be an issue because you've had a chance to look it over and vouch for the veracity of everything here." At this point, every candidate I've had to pull this on has gotten upset and withdrawn consent to do the background check. "
You said you have told this to potential hires (whom you've already decided you don't trust, so they're not really potential hires at all). This appears to be your one last opportunity to prove how much smarter than them you are (or something to that effect).
99% != 100%
Monday, December 14, 2009
I'm gonna get me some popcorn ... hoo boy :-D
(PS: on resumes - if in doubt, leave it out. The resume is only there to get you into the interview, or, if you prefer, the phone screen, where you can flesh out details then.)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Good insights from Scott. And thanks to Matthew Flynn to remember that there was an original question!
Certainly it is bad to lie or otherwise misrepresent anything on one's resume. But there are those nasty job postings web sites (company, agency and general) to wade through if I want to expect a phone call to set up an interview. To say I have only a Bachelor's level education is as misleading as saying I have Master's, but there are no inbetween answers.
I have found, in some cases, having spent time in grad school does count for something. To be able to explain, e.g., what is a Kalman filter at a physics/engineering graduate course level, counts for something, fancy framed paper or not.
Much of my software development work is in physics and engineering projects. These are not academic jobs, but as staff or consultant at national labs or in industry. A Master's in the subject matter, or the knowledge, interest, coursework and labwork represented by such even without the paper, would propel my foot into the door quicker.
Probably the easiest way to settle this just to go to the nearest university (Univ. of Central Florida, currently) and get a Master's.
Daren Scot Wilson
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
For my new resume rewrite, I'm using "Indiana Univ (1984-87) – graduate studies in physics"
Daren Scot Wilson
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
You're right--after a while, the experience is pretty much what counts. Companies did ask about the degree when I had less experience, but not so much during my last job search 2006. I'm (finally) finishing up an MS in Computer Science in the spring, so I suspect it will be even more of a non-issue after that.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"I, unlike you, I am not ashamed to admit to what branch of industry I work in."
I've gone into extensive detail about what I do and my history. No one posts their resume with every post here and it would be silly to do so. Summary. Lots of experience working for corporations, all of it negative. Saved up money and moved to a rural place with a low cost of living. Started company in the garage writing real time video editing and processing software. Took a long time to get profitable, but in the last few years have done well after a decade of investment in the product line. Most recent hire was poached from Adobe. Adobe and Avid are major competitors. Web site is handled by a one man shop in eastern europe who I found when he was only going to college. I'm excellent at math and writing very fast code, also at very intuitive interfaces. Hiring programmers is difficult because there are only a handful of people in the world, less than a dozen, competent to handle this work, and all of them work at other companies. This is why I watch my competitors carefully and dived in to poach when they laid off one of their best guys last year.
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