Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Starting Off On An Honest Footing"/ "Beware the BlackBerry addict"

Jun. 17, 2016: I got this article from my Professional Writing class Professional Prose.  It's  By Wendy Mclellan on Jul. 3, 2005:

"Starting Off On An Honest Footing"

Resumé Fraud: It Isn't Worth It To Lie —Or To Avoid Checking Up On Job Applicants

The Province, July 3, 2005 — It is so tempting to alter a few little details to make a resume shine brighter than the rest in the pile.

Who would find out you were just a small part of a successful project, not the team leader? How would they know you’re six credits short of that undergraduate degree?

Workplace advisers encourage job-seekers to put their best foot forward and write achievement-filled resumes, but adding little lies is a perilous way to attract a prospective employer’s attention.

“Applicants might think there’s a chance employers will check their background, but until the last couple of years, employers in Canada haven’t made checks part of their business practice,” says Dave Dinesen, founder of BackCheck, a Surrey-based private investigative service for employers. “In the U.S., background checking is very established, but Canadian companies have started catching up.”

Employers use his company to verify information that job candidates provide, Dinesen says. Investigators confirm employment history and education credentials, perform criminal and credit checks and interview references.

“Even big companies with human-resources departments don’t have enough time to do the checks,” he says.

And reference calls are usually at the bottom of the pile — or not done at all.

“Once you’ve hired someone, it’s too late to check their background, so our clients want to be comfortable when they make the decision to hire.”

About 30 per cent of people exaggerate on their resumes, and one in 10 make false claims about their education, according to industry statistics.

“There is a long list of phoney schools and a plethora of schools where you can buy a PhD for life experience,” Dinesen says.

“Modest discrepancies are usually overlooked, but not the glaring alterations. People know when they’re lying — everybody knows.”

Dinesen says he has uncovered stacks of fake degrees, stopped schools from hiring professors with no teaching credentials and saved hotels from giving jobs to managers with criminal charges for pedophilia.

“I’ve found absolute career criminals with dozens of charges who have applied to electronics retailers for jobs,” he says. “We really encourage honesty — it’s bad to start a relationship on a lie.”

Mike Palmer, manager of the talent-acquisition section of Canadian human-resources company Ceridian, says background checking is a critical part of the process for hiring new employees — for Ceridian as well as the clients they provide recruiting services for.

“It’s quite amazing the number of people who lie on their resumes,” Palmer says.

“A lot of people exaggerate, especially about their education. They may still be hired, but it depends on how flagrant the lie is.

“I think a lot of candidates still have the assumption that we’re not going to check.”

He says employers would be naïve to take resumes at face value. That doesn’t mean candidates are lying about their credentials, but it’s good business to verify claims and references.

“If you don’t check and it turns out a candidate is not a very good employee, that they have a bad attendance record or come in late, it can be very expensive to get rid of them,” Palmer says. “And if they have a criminal record of fraud, the cost could be huge.”

Patrick Reynolds, a partner in the Vancouver office of Ray & Berndtson, a national executive-search company, says most people exaggerate something on their resumes, but only a few of those applying for high-level positions are bold enough to make significantly false claims.

Still, the company does extensive reference checking and contracts BackCheck to investigate the background of every candidate.

He recalls one job-seeker who noted three academic degrees, all from a school Reynolds had never heard of. The school turned out to be an unaccredited institution and the candidate had acquired all three degrees — bachelor’s, master’s and PhD — in three years.

Another prospect offered reference names and numbers, but when Reynolds made the first call, he recognized the voice of the applicant pretending to be a business reference. Needless to say, the resume was filed in the trash.

“When a check shows something that rates as a red flag, we discuss it with the client —sometimes it’s manageable, sometimes it’s not,” Reynolds says. “But in virtually all cases, if a red flag comes up, it compromises the candidate.
“Your resume should accurately reflect your background.

“Highlight accomplishments, but don’t exaggerate. Company executives these days are really attuned to ethical issues and have high moral standards.

“Any type of fabrication is a potential issue and looked at very seriously.”

"Beware the BlackBerry addict": I also got this article from college.  It's by Howard Levitt on Apr. 21, 2008.

Man is born free, and everywhere is in chains.
--Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762

The workplace no longer has borders: The ubiquitous personal digital assistants (PDAs), such as BlackBerrys, have made employees accessible anytime, everywhere. But few employers -- thrilled with their employees' newfound, round-the-clock availability and heightened productivity -- have considered their new liabilities.

Employees are using PDAs while driving, walking on the street, at restaurants, bars, and even at the gym. Many employees feel beholden to respond immediately to the beep of a pending message. Hence, the reference to "Crackberrys." Common sense seldom prevails. Often, they don't know who is listening or peering over their shoulders.

While employees may be blithe, employers should be concerned because they ultimately are the ones responsible for employees' actions.

Any information leaks could expose employers to liability for a multitude of infractions. Betraying a client's confidentiality, violating privacy rights, even damaging misstatements or defamation could result from a PDA "slip." And it won't be long before employers are making large payouts as result of these "indiscretions."

It also won't be long before we see the first $1-million damage award against an employer from a driver or pedestrian injured by an e-mailing employee.

The pressure some employees feel to respond immediately, no matter where they are when the message comes in, also could leave an employer liable. They could be in the midst of an argument with their spouse, drunk at a dinner party or have just been complaining about their boss to friends. Their minds and emotions may not be prepared to provide critical information to their employer, customer or work colleague. And being away from the office and access to files and co-workers means there is also a likelihood issues necessary to provide the information sought might be overlooked. If their advice is incomplete or negligent, employers will be liable.

Also because of the speed of PDA communications, the language tends to be less formal and professional. Spelling mistakes often creep into communications while fervently typing on the tiny keyboard. As well, there is an increased risk of copying an e-mail to the wrong person.

The PDA is the employer's property, and employees should have no expectation of privacy. If any personal use is permitted, it should be limited. Employees should never e-mail inappropriate jokes or access pornographic Web sites. Such rules will minimize an employer's exposure to discrimination or sexual harassment complaints.

This is not a call to prohibit PDAs. They provide the flexibility and accessibility many workers need to achieve the work-life balance many employees crave. The following guidelines will help employers manage use of BlackBerrys:

- Employees should be reminded to exercise discretion when using PDAs away from the office. All telephone and e-mail communications are confidential and e-mail communications sent from a PDA should have a tagline identifying the communication as such.

- PDAs should be turned off and password protected when not in use. This will prevent unauthorized use or viewing of confidential business information.

- Establish a protocol for "etiquette." For example, during meetings, clients deserve undivided attention and PDAs should be turned off.

- Employers should require that PDAs not be used while driving, to minimize the risk of the employer being found to be negligent in the case of an accident.

- Remind employees that the same rules that apply to the use of office telephones, computers and the Internet also apply to PDAs. All workplace policies should be inclusive of them. Permitted and prohibited uses should be defined. Policies should also clearly state that employers have the right to access and inspect employees' e-mails, PDA and Internet use.

- Have an employment lawyer do a workplace audit, bulletproofing existing policies against changes in the law and ensuring policies are in place for new issues such as PDAs.
PDAs are an example of employers and their law firms earnestly, but unimaginatively, prescribing policies for the problems of the past while blithely skating into a legal decapitation. For reasons I find difficult to understand, few have yet to address these issues.

Dianne Standford: I tried to find this article by her "Email skirmishes rarely a good idea" on Apr. 1, 2006.  I couldn't find it, but she does write a lot about jobs.

Gillian Shaw: I tried to find this article by her "What do your employees really think?" on Feb. 11, 2006.  I couldn't find it, but here's another article by her:


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