July 02, 2015

More work but we're happy: the new work life balance reality





A strange phenomenon is going on in workplaces. We are walking around, smartphones in hand (sometimes even in bed when we sleep), complaining about how much we're working, and yet -- we're happy in our jobs and have no intention of leaving them.

What the heck is going on? Have we settled comfortably into a new reality?

Here is what new research reveals:  We are putting in more than 8-hour days, working on weekends at least once a month, eating lunch at our desks, and working after hours to complete work we didn’t finish during the day.

Even with our heavier workloads, the majority of employees (85 percent) said they are happy at work and motivated to become future managers. These are the findings of a new Workplace Index study of about 2,600 workers in the United States and Canada conducted by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.

"Workers have accepted that work is no longer 9 to 5," says Dan Schawbel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and advisory membership service for HR professionals.  "They might have to answer an email after 11 p.m. I think people have adjusted to the new reality."

So, why exactly are we working so much -- and at all hours? 

More than 30 percent of employees participating in the research say the driving force behind the "always on" work culture is the need to complete work they don't have time to do during the day, followed by a desire to get ahead on their work for the following day.  One in five employees said they spend at least two hours a day in meetings and just as many report the meetings are inefficient (a possible reason we're taking work home?).

While we've accepted the new reality of work life blend, how can we be happier? Here are suggestions given in the Staples Advantage findings.

- Flexibility is key to happiness at work. So true. When I talk to employees I notice the happiest workers have flexibility. In the Staples Advantage research,  37 percent of employees say that if employers provide more flexibility it would increase their happiness.

-Office perks are important too. Employees want simple things like break time to refresh or an onsite gym.

-Improving technology would make a difference. Employees say more advanced technology helps them be more creative and better at their jobs.

-Providing better office design is key as well. Employees thrive in offices with high-ceilings, lots of windows, lounge areas and a laid-out break room designed to promote collaboration and rest.

In a definite sign that workers have accepted the new reality of our heavier workloads, few are planning job changes. Only 19 percent said they expect to make a job change in the next year and money was the top reason.

Schawbel says the research confirms that workers are doing more with less on shorter time frames, and have accepted the 24/7 work philosophy -- if it comes with flexibility.  But he wonders if there will be a point where burnt out employees will push back, especially because the study found about a third of employees consider work life balance the leader contributor of loyalty.

Have you accepted the new reality that 9 to 5 workdays have disappeared? Despite a heavier workload, would you say you are happy in your job?


February 24, 2015

How to land a new job when you're pregnant

Recently, I watched a random episode of the House of Lies. It was my first time watching the show and Kristen Bell's character, Jeannie Van Der Hooven,  was pregnant. In the show, she plays a high powered management consultant whose firm is being investigated by the Feds. So, Van Der Hooven decides to explore her career options. That's when a recruiter pal tells her no one is going to hire her when she's pregnant. In fact, the recruiter quite bluntly advises her to stay put.

I found it realistic and disturbing.

Mary-Ellen-Slayter0008.vu_Today, my guest blogger Mary Ellen Slayter,CEO/Founder of Reputation Capital Media Services and Monster.com's HR and Careers Expert. She shares her advice for finding a job while pregnant and believes the key is to know your rights and have a plan in place before you head out to an interview. 

She offers this advice:

Looking for a job when you’re pregnant can feel like a huge challenge. If you’re not showing yet, you may feel like you need to hide the fact that you’re pregnant and will soon need some time off. If you are showing, you may feel like going through job interviews aren’t even worth it. But it’s not impossible to get a job while you’re pregnant. Here’s what you need to know.

Laws protect you


It’s important to remember the law is on your side when you’re interviewing while pregnant. “Laws protect pregnant applicants from discrimination and employers cannot require you to disclose your pregnancy,” says Cynthia Thomas Calvert, an employment lawyer and president of Workforce 21C.


Of course, your situation may be obvious. “Applicants may not be able to hide a pregnancy, or they may feel that it is better to disclose so that if they are hired they do not start their employment under a cloud of suspicion and distrust.”

Make a plan


Calvert says pregnancy discrimination is often based on assumptions about how pregnant women will or should act as employees, such as being too tired or too sick to work, taking off too much time, having "pregnancy brain" and not being committed to their job. “These biases may be open and blatant, or hidden and unconscious. Regardless, they affect the hiring process.”


She suggests saying things along the lines of, “I enjoy being a sales manager, and I want you to know that if you hire me, I will work very hard to be the best manager I can be. I am very committed to my career and to helping people who work with me to do their best. I know that we will have to work out some logistics based on my pregnancy, and I have some ideas for how we can do that.”

Believe in yourself


You are interviewing for new jobs because you believe you can do them. Let that shine through, says Janine Truitt, chief innovations officer at Talent Think Innovations LLC. “I was six months pregnant with my oldest child when I got a new job,” she says. “My advice is to have the same confidence in your abilities during pregnancy that you would if you weren't pregnant. Don't let pregnancy create unnecessary insecurities that make an employer start to second guess you.”


Finding a woman-friendly environment can help. “I have hired two women while they were pregnant. Three other women announced they were pregnant shortly after I hired them,” says Kassy Perry, president and CEO of Perry Communications Group.  She says men have asked her why she would hire a pregnant woman. “As a mother of two adult daughters, I typically chuckle and tell them that I didn’t realize pregnancy was a terminal illness and I guess I’m lucky to be back at work and successful after having two children.”


Readers, have you ever had to job hunt while pregnant? If so, what was that experience like? Managers, have you ever considered a candidate who was pregnant? What circumstances would lead you to hire that person? 

September 29, 2014

Must you work overtime?

Last week, I was talking to a CEO who said to me, "I am not going to hire anyone anymore who can't work overtime."

He explained that at certain times of the year, he needs to ramp up, usually for only a few weeks at a time. But when an employee can't put in longer hours ( even if paid extra) it creates a problem for all.

I responded by telling him that many people have outside responsibilities that could prevent them from coming in earlier or staying later. That's understandable," he said. "But I have a company to run so a job at my company would not be for them."

There in lies the clash of business needs with real life responsibilities of many of today's workers. This is a complicated issue: Even if someone signs on for occasional overtime, what it his life demands change? Should a worker be allowed to say, ' I don’t want to work overtime and would rather go home?' And,  when does occasional overtime become more than “occasional”?

Allison Green at Ask A Manager says this:

* Generally, you should try to be flexible and accommodating when you’re asked to take on something at work outside of your normal work schedule, particularly when it’s temporary, but there’s a point beyond which it’s reasonable to push back. Certainly sleeping at work and working 18 hours days falls well over the line of reasonable (unless you knew you were signing up for that, such as if you were working on a political campaign).

* Your employer can require you to work whatever hours they want, and can change it at any time, unless you have a contract that states otherwise.

* A reasonable manager will work with someone who isn’t able to take on additional work hours, particularly when it’s many extra work hours, and particularly if the employee is willing to be flexible to the extent they can be.

* Not every manager is reasonable. But plenty are.

The CEO I spoke with said he  is upfront about expectations. His position on it made me wonder:  If overtime is mentioned during the interview process, could it eliminate your ability to get any flexibility on this issue in the future? 

Here's what you should know: There’s no federal law on the number of hours someone can be required to work or the length of a break (or even requiring any break at all); that’s all up to individual states.

CEOs have their eye on the bottom line and the health of the business, and they may forget that employees are persons with real needs and real responsibilities. I find it unrealistic for this CEO to think he can hire loyal employees who will be willing to work overtime at any given point in time. In life, complications arise with kids, parents, friends, community commitments -- even our own health. There will be some who will jump at the job because they want the opportunity to earn overtime pay. But will they stay long term?


April 17, 2014

Is your paycheck stressing you out?

Our paychecks aren't big enough and that's stressing us out. 

For the fourth year in a row, American workers told Neilsen our low pay is our biggest stressor. That makes sense because most of us haven't had substantial raises in more than five years. 

When you're struggling to pay the bills, typically the padding is gone that gives you the leeway to better balance your work and family life. Who can afford a babysitter when food and gas prices are going up and our paychecks aren't. 

So what can we do about it? Fortunately, it looks like there may be some hope of raises or a better paying job in the near future. Here's what some experts shared in my Miami Herald column this week:


Low pay





Workers at all income levels are frustrated that their workloads have increased but they haven’t seen a raise or hiring of more workers. Even as revenues have improved, for the past two years pay raises at private employers have hovered at around 2.8 percent and are expected to be only about 2.9 percent in 2014, according to global services firm Towers Watson. At the same time, the cost of living has gone up with housing, gas and food prices rising.

Career experts suggest we get aggressive and creative to fatten our paychecks. For skilled workers, the best route may be a new job. “One factor has decreased: the fear of being fired or laid off,” says Wendy Cullen of Everest College. “Now that there are more jobs, people aren’t afraid to start looking, but there is still a big question as to whether it is better someplace else.”

This may be the time to find out. “Slowly, companies are starting to compete for talent again and add to their headcount,” said Matt Shore, president of Steven Douglas Associates, a South Florida executive recruiting firm specializing in finance, accounting and information technology. “People who are in stagnant jobs are starting to look around and, in some cases, the market finally is telling them they can do better.”

For those stressed by low pay because of underemployment, negotiation may be necessary. After losing his marketing position at a bank, Jorge Espinosa saw his finances fray as he spent month after month in a job search. Now in a job that pays much lower than his previous one, his credit card debt has piled up. Espinosa says he has begun a new search but notices job ads reflect far lower salaries than what he previously earned. “It’s stressful to think I may be locked into a lower salary for another few years.”

Rather than get discouraged, one CEO suggests having a conversation with your boss. Most employers still have the mindset that workers are fortunate to have a job, admits Michael Rose, CEO of Mojo Media Labs, a Dallas Marketing Agency. However, Rose says certain arguments could justify a raise: “Come to your boss armed with information. Maybe you’re doing more than what is in the scope of the job description. Maybe you just got a certification. Maybe you can work on project or learn new skill set that will allow you to start in a new role that pays better.”

Even if negotiations don’t pan out, there is hope. Recruiters say salaries in some occupations are creeping toward pre-recession levels. Terri Davis, a Miami recruiter for a global software company that specializes in IT solutions for the travel industry, said that in her industry, job offers are about 20 percent higher than two years ago. Davis says job seekers also have a little room for pay negotiation: “When an employer extends an offer, they are evaluating it, and if they don’t feel it’s competitive enough, they are questioning the potential for a bonus — and getting it.”

All of us have some control over our paychecks, depending on how much we are willing to invest in ourselves, by adding to our skills, Cullen says. “I don't think you can ever eliminate all the factors that cause workplace anxiety, but as individuals, we can definitely create a plan of action to improve our careers and change our lives.”





January 08, 2014

What does work life balance look like for you?

Below is my column in today's Miami Herald:


Wherever I go lately, people tell me they want better work/life balance in the new year. My response is to ask, “What does work/life balance look like for you?”

Finding a balance between work and personal life is not like reaching balance on a scale with equal weights. It is not about working less. It is about spending your time in a way that brings satisfaction. In a survey by the University of Scranton, one of the top New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to enjoy life to the fullest. In a society where stress levels have soared, that’s a good goal for all of us.

As 2013 came to a close, I heard such statements as this: My family life and my health have suffered because of work, and I am not going to let that continue. I also heard the opposite: I want to acquire language skills or get a certification to finally advance at work.

Experts say we need to get more specific about what personal fulfillment looks like and define our path to find it because less than half of us will keep our resolutions past the first six months. Does fulfillment and better work/life balance mean eating dinner as a family a few nights a week? Does it mean reclaiming Saturdays to take rides with a bike club? Or taking on a new project at work that excites you?

“Narrow it down and set one important intention, because behavioral change is hard,” says Shani Magosky, executive coach and owner of Vitesse Consulting in Fort Lauderdale “Our brains are hard-wired to reinforce habits that exist.”

Once you know exactly what a better work/life balance looks like, Magosky suggests you figure out what you need to do to make it happen. Remember creating a habit or breaking an old one takes time and practice. It requires change. What specifically are you going to do to make sure that change happens?

If your goal is to eat dinner more often with your kids, post a photo of you doing it somewhere you will see it each day — maybe on your computer desktop. “You need some kind of reminder to keep the intention in the forefront of your mind,” Magosky says. Digital reminders with built-in alerts are catching on, too, and often provide the nudge to get a late-night dweller out of the office at a scheduled time.

If you find yourself spending a Saturday at the office instead of with your bike club, don't fret or give up. Change the background on your mobile phone to yourself on your bike as motivation for making it happen the next week.

The key is to examine what is at stake if you don’t make a change. For example, if you are on the phone or online all the time, will your health suffer, your relationships become strained, your children become resentful? “Considering the consequences will help you get clear on why you should put forth the effort to make that change,” Magosky says.

Judy Martin consults stressed employees who want to feel better, work better, and live better. Studies highlighted by the American Institute of Stress show that jobs are by far the major source of stress for American adults, and that job-related stress levels have escalated over the past decade. If your work life has you feeling pulled and anxious, Martin, founder of Work Life Nation, recommends taking baby steps toward change in 2014. “The secret sauce is in the planning. Plan out the change you need to make and the actions you need to take.”

For example, Martin says, one client in middle management felt stressed every night by trying to get home early enough to spend time with his family, yet complete his job responsibilities. Together, they came up with a plan for him to go to the office an hour earlier, use the quiet time to more strategically plan out the day and work while it is quiet, and leave an hour earlier to enjoy family time. “It wasn’t just about changing work hours,” she explains. “It was also about giving him time to switch modes and start the day more positive.”

Business consultant Nigel Marsh notes: The companies we work for aren’t going to create work/life balance for us. We have to take control of and responsibility for the life we want to live.

Often in January, people become convinced they need to change jobs to feel like their work and personal life are more in synch. Tom Connelly, an executive recruiter with Boyden global executive search in Coral Gables, said he already has seen a flood of résumés from people who feel unfulfilled in their current jobs.

“It’s not just a pondering about their professional situation, family stuff comes into play. Over the holidays, people are spending time with family and everything bubbles up into a volcano and they think if they find a new job everything will be OK.”

If you do feel that way, Connelly suggests you network and find a business coach to help identify your weak areas and improve on them as steps toward a job search. The economy is expected to show more life in 2014, which will present workers with a number of opportunities, he believes.

But Connelly cautions that a new job does not guarantee better work/life balance, regardless of whether you work fewer hours. You can have satisfaction with work, despite having a work profile that would scare the living daylights out of the 40-hour work week.

Christine Denton, a Miami Mary Kaye executive sales director, said accomplishing her work goals fuels her. She enjoys inspiring her team to become a million-dollar sales unit and that motivates her as she puts in nights and weekend hours. This year, she will keep a photo of a pink Cadillac Escalade on her desk as she aims to hit her sales goals and become a national sales director even while giving birth to her first child in April. Denton said the baby, the Escalade, and the idea of leading by example are motivation as she resolves to use her time wisely in 2014 and establish the boundaries that will allow her to feel satisfied at work and home.

As many of us have learned, you can have more personal time but spend it in ways that aren’t fulfilling. If you’re coming home from work just to pick up where you left off, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. As a blogger on WallStreetOasis.com notes: “Having more ‘free time’ won’t make you happy. Having a job to which you want to contributeand a life that you're enjoying every minute of will.”

It will take some planning and discipline, but if work/life balance is your resolution, you really can accomplish it in the new year.


 Christine Denton, a Mary Kay Elite Executive Sales Director, and her hubby get ready for their first child, scheduled to arrive in April! ( photo by Cristina Morgado)


Christine Denton keeps this photo of a pink Escalade on her desk as motivation!

August 06, 2013

Turning part-time work into full-time work

Getting hired

A friend of mine wanted a part time job during the day while her kids were in school. But when her husband had surgery, and it became apparent he would be out of work for a while, she realized she needed full time work.

She went to her boss to talk it over. Because she had proved herself a good worker, she was able to convince her boss to give her more hours and a schedule that would be managable. It's amazing how workplaces are willing to accommodate someone who proves themself a good worker.

Still, it's not always as easy as asking. I saw this great article: 7 steps for turning part-time work into full-time jobs. I just had to share it with you. It was written by John Alston is a career advisor and coach at The Innis Company. Here's a quick summary of the steps.

1. Specialize: When applying for part-time or contract work, concentrate on fields where your skills and experience will distinguish you as valuable.

2. Differentiate: Whatever your field of expertise, find how you can impact either the top line or the bottom line.

3. Inquire: Ask up front if you can apply for full-time openings that arise during your part-time employment. If you are signing a contract for part-time work, request that it include the potential to be hired full-time. (This is key to getting hired full time!)

4. Commit: Act as if you already are a full-time employee and people might begin to see you as an important part of the team.

5. Out-perform: Aim to out-perform full-time employees who are doing the same or similar jobs as you. 

6. Fit in: Be positive and upbeat. Don't go around the workplace thinking of yourself as “only a contractor.”

7. Reach out: Meet as many key people in the organization as you can. Build an internal network that can help you solve problems and that gets you visibility with decision makers. 



May 02, 2013

Are companies really beefing up perks?


An article in the Sun Sentinel this morning says employers are beefing up perks to keep their talented rosters intact. One staffing recruiter said the pendulum has swung back and that bonuses are back in vogue. Another company said it's going to offer employees additional training.

To that, I say, "Hogwash!"

While some employers in very specific industries might be saying outloud that they are increasing benefits, I'm having trouble believing its true in most industries and for most businesses.

Is your employer becoming more generous?

To me, It just doesn't seem like the economy has come back enough for employers to want to take on any upfront costs for more or better benefits.

Just this morning, the Daily writes: 

Wondering why you haven't seen the performance you've hoped for from your 401(k) lately? A big reason may be that your employer is simply not putting what it used to into the account. 

One of the best perks of 401(k) plans is the matching contribution that employers traditionally make when workers save money in the retirement accounts. Yet these days, fewer companies are making 401(k) matches: The number of companies offering matching has fallen by almost 7 percent since 2009, according to a study from American Investment Planners. The trend of cutting back matching is just one way employers are taking the scalpel to their benefits budgets. The AIP study found that 6 percent of 401(k) plans have been terminated outright.

Are times changing after years of layoffs and high unemployment? Maybe a little, but not much. We know it's costly to replace an employee. I just don't think most employers believe they can't easily replace most workers -- not yet!

Of course, there are benefits that help retain top talent without a big investment -- smart employers have figured that out.

What are those perks?

Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, "Being compensated well will always be a top consideration, but we're seeking work-life balance, telecommuting options and learning opportunities outweigh other job factors when an employee decides whether to stay with an organization."

So readers, what are your thoughts? Do you think companies are beefing up perks? Do you think they have realized yet that they will need to do that to keep their good workers?



September 27, 2012

Should you tell your father he is doing his job search the wrong way?



My husband and son are going at it all the time. My son, being a teenager, thinks he knows everything about everything. That makes my husband crazy!

But there may be at least one surprising area that sons know more about than dad -- the job search.

A new study courtesy of Millennial Branding and Beyond.com found big differences in the way each generation conducts a job search. The younger generation seems to be having more success -- particularly in attitude.

This new study called The Multi-Generational Job Search  found most  out-of-work Boomers spend most of their time trolling job boards, particularly LinkedIn. It's no wonder that nearly 70 percent of them say they are frustrated and even depressed by the job search. Boomers also happen to be the generation for whom it's taking longest to find a job.

Sounds like dad is going about it wrong, doesn't it?

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Me 2.0. was surprised to learn that a mature out-of-work dad might be relying on social networks for a job search, even more than his fresh-out-of-school kid. "You would think they(Boomers) would return to how they always have looked for jobs, but they're not. I would recommend finding job opportunities online but meeting people in person off line to make the connection."

Meanwhile, Gen Y, the 20-somethings, aren't letting unemployment get to them. They're optimistic and willing to go back to school or start a business as an alternative to
unemployment, the study shows. They're spending time job hunting on Facebook and almost half of them have their own websites.

"This study confirms that Gen Y is optimistic about the future and is willing to do
whatever it takes to build a career..." Schawbel says.

Here's another area in which a Gen Y kid might need to enlighten his Boomer dad: Interview preparation.

The study found the majority of Boomers prepare for interviews by reviewing the company's website. Meanwhile, the majority of Gen Y prepares by practicing interview questions. Gen Y's approach works better.

"Gen Y probably practices interview questions more because they are just out of school," Schwabel says."Boomers have been interviewing their whole lives. They probably are not practicing as much because they think they already know how to do it."

Yet, clearly the results show Boomers need job search help. In a recent survey of 1,500 hiring managers, only 1% of respondents said it is easiest to place job-seekers in their 50s, as opposed to younger workers in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

There could be some age discrimination at play. The study found 65% of Boomers said they feel like they suffer from age discrimination in their search. Indeed, Schwabel believes younger workers are perceived as having skills that may be more relevant. 

However, Janette Marx, a senior vice president at Adecco, told Forbes.com: “There are many companies where mature workers are in high demand.” Her advice for mature workers, who may not have interviewed for a job for a long time: Sell yourself by talking specifically about accomplishments and quantify achievements with numbers.

 “You don’t need to be humble,” says Marx. “Make sure you are truly telling your story and selling yourself.”

So, readers, if your out-of-work parent was struggling with the job search, would he or she be open to your advice? Do you think older workers are going about the job search incorrectly or do you believe age discrimination is at play? 


August 21, 2012

Intern Queen tells how to hire an intern this fall

These days most of us could use an extra set of hands around the office -- even better if that set of hands costs you nothing and allows you to mold the next generation of worker. Think intern! 

With school about to start, now is a great time to reach out and find an intern that can add value to your business. Today, my guest blogger is going to tell you just how to hire an intern and make the experience a good one for all. 

Berger_Lauren c. Felicity MurphyLauren Berger is known as "The Intern Queen" and author of ALL WORK NO PAY: Finding An Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience. Berger specializes in internship, career, and entrepreneurship advice for young people. She personally work with employers and help them find interns and entry-level candidates. You can contact her HERE. Another great resource is the career centers at colleges and universities in their area.

We read often about what students need to know. But what about employers? How do they know how to structure their programs and provide beneficial experiences for their interns? Here are 5 ways employers can improve their internship programs:

1. Structure Your Program. When a student starts an internship at your company they should have a clear agenda. A start date, end date, mid-way evaluation, and exit interview should be on the calendar and both parties must be aware. The intern should fully understand the time requirement and days/nights he or she is required to stay late or work events outside of typical office hours. 


2. What Perks Can You Add? An employer should always be thinking about value. The student is using the experience to determine if this is the right industry and company for them. How can you help them figure that out? Perhaps you can add a speakers series or a weekly lunch with executives. 


3. Understand the intern's goals. In the initial interview, establish an understanding of the students you hire. What do they want to do? Is your company a place where they can really figure out if their "dream job" is their "dream job"? Think about what you can do to help them learn more about themselves and their personal and professional goals. By asking the students about what they want to do (throughout the course of the internship) you will create more valuable work for them. For example, I have an intern this semester who told me during our mid-way evaluation that she was interested in sales. Since we've had that conversation, I've made sure to include her in several sales calls so that she can listen in and take notes. 


4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate. The mid-way evaluation is a crucial part of the internship. At this point, you can sit down with your team for 30 minutes and make a list of things the interns are excelling at and a list of things they can improve upon. Just having this brainstorm session with your staff will make them more attentive to the internship program as a whole. Once you've created your lists, have a group meeting with your interns. Explain to them the purpose of the evaluation - to give them a better understanding of what they are doing well and what they can improve upon. The idea is for them to acknowledge these problem areas now rather than at their first job post-college.


5. Stay In Touch. I always tell students to stay in touch with their professional contacts - of course. However, we all under estimate the value these students will play in our professional lives. In a few years, these interns are going to have jobs at your company and at companies similar to yours. Some of them will work with you, some will work for you, and you might find yourself working for one of them someday. It's just as important for you to keep the relationship as it is for them to stay in touch. I've had several interns graduate, land jobs, and call me with business proposals or pitch me ideas. If these students are interning with you - its a sign they have potential - the potential to be very successful. Make sure you stay in touch. 


May 14, 2012

Yahoo CEO's resume scandal -- When is lying okay?

Have you ever exaggerated just a little bit to put yourself in the best light possible?

Most of us do, particularly when it comes to our bios or resumes. We take what we've done and word it just so to make ourselves look as accomplished as possible. It's what we're told to do.

But resumes are tricky. Experts tell us it's okay to airbrush our photos, glamorize our accomplishments. Yet, we aren't supposed to cross the line into over-embellishment or take it a step further and add facts that aren't true.

That's where Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson went wrong. He just was fired as CEO after it was found he padded his resume with an embellished college degree, ending his term at the company after
just four months.

As college grads begin putting together their resumes, I think there's a lesson here. Don't put yourself in a position where you have to fear being caught. Airbrushing is ok. Lying is not.

Thompson's resume scandal ignited just over a week ago, when activist shareholder group Third Point alleged that Thompson lied about details of his college degree. Thompson's published Yahoo bios -- including the one in the company's latest annual report, a legal document that CEOs must personally swear are truthful -- have claimed that he holds a bachelor's degree in both accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.

His degree is actually in accounting only. Yahoo called the mistake an "inadvertent error."

Unfortunately, Thompson is just the latest executive to lose his job in a resume scandal. The Associated Press put together a long list: A Look at Leaders Undone by Resume Inaccuracies

The lesson here is don't do it. If you think your resume needs some flair, do something about it -- the right way. Take a class. Do volunteer work. Gain the skills or experience you're missing. Yes, gaining those skills or experience could cut into your work life balance, but so can losing your job. If Thompson felt he needed to add a computer science degree to his resume, he should have taken classes. It's never too late to gain more education. By the way, education is the area of a resume where people lie the most, experts say.

Studies show half of all resumes include a little padding and a third contain outright lies. (Fox Business: Yahoo scandal fuels doubts about vetting) Experts have compiled the Top 5 Resume Lies

Chris3Chris Lawson, CEO of the Eli Daniel Group in Dallas, hires people for a living. I asked him for tips on airbrushing a resume without lying :

Why do you think people lie on their resumes? People lie on their resume to cover up or enhance the information in hopes of “getting that interview”. Smaller organizations can fall prey to hiring some of these people while larger organizations with a well-structured HR Department typically filter out some of basic lies such as: altered employment dates to cover gaps, recent salary paid or
education verification.

Are the lies increasing as the unemployment rates rise? When economic times are tougher, the desperation creates a sense of “why not, I am not getting any interviews anyway”. The problem will usually backfire, especially if their skills are exposed quickly once hired.

What can people do to boost their resumes without lying? People can boost their resume by
ensuring they list every skill and job function they performed at each job. Keywords are huge, especially since many searches for online information are performed by typing a few critical keywords to pull up a list of prospects. In addition, listing accomplishments that are factual
demonstrates a higher performing candidate. People that narrow their job target objective and tailor their resume factually based on the job description will always get a good look as well.

How much effort do employers put into verifying information? This varies greatly. The degreed positions will usually always get atleast two reference checks to ensure dates are accurate. Non-degreed candidates do not get as much scrutiny but almost all companies perform a criminal background check. Typically the public organizations will ensure most everything is checked, but
surprisingly, education is not always verified, especially if they have work history that would lead to an assumption it’s accurate. Yahoo CEO is now the latest in a long line of high profile people fudging on education.


So readers, do you think it would have made a difference to Yahoo if Scott Thompson didn't have a degree in computer science? Did he really need to put that on his resume? Do you think there are lots of CEOs out there who have lied about their educational background? Do you think seeing what happened to Scott Thompson will make anyone stop and think twice, or is lying just embedded in the way we do business today?