Catch Me if You Can: Qualification Inflation in IT
In the film, Catch Me If You Can', the main character very successfully fools the airline industry, medical and law professions plus a host of other unsuspecting characters in between, making an absolute fortune along the way.
In the film, Catch Me If You Can', the main character (played by Leonardo De Caprio), very successfully fools the airline industry, medical and law professions plus a host of other unsuspecting characters in between, making an absolute fortune along the way.
Admittedly, we see him as an anti-hero (did you say hero?) rather than a felon which is partly due to his charm but predominantly due to the fact that although he assumes false identities and qualifications to gain a foothold, we do not begrudge him his success as he rewards us multifold with the sheer brilliance of how he builds success upon success i.e.
But let's take a breath of reality.
Forget about anti-heroes we all love and likeable rogues beating the system.
And for a moment put aside brilliant minds who without any qualifications to speak of have made their way to the top of their game (honestly or dishonestly).
Think of the most obvious area where it's so easy to deceive: Selling services on the web.
How often have you wondered whether the web site you are looking at with it's offering of such fantastic IT training really have the accreditations it makes its claim to?
Does the candidate who's CV you've just received really have a grade A in woodwork and Computing? Was the woodwork very cleverly thrown in as a decoy?
In the IT training industry for there are precious few qualifications. The trainer may have been on a short train the Trainer course. Passed the seven modules of ECDL (European Computer Driving License. Even passed the MOS (Microsoft Office specialist) exams.
However, this does not really take us very far. No disrespect to the thousands of individuals taking ECDL exams but they are a very weak test of technical competence useful only to say that a candidate has a little knowledge across a broad range of subjects.
This means that anyone in the position of hiring full time or contract staff has to rely upon the veracity and accuracy of the CV viewed through the prism of the recruitment company if one has been appointed.
Looking at the CV often the real problems lie in the long list of applications the tutor claims to teach and the level of expertise within each.
One candidate will claim Excel up to VBA (Visual Basic Application) which suggests the ability to program in Excel when in really they can barely automatic a simple sequence of steps. A candidate claiming to teach Microsoft Project should be able to answer a question regarding critical Path analysis but when asked says that they only used Project at college for working as an Intern and they haven't looked at it for a while.
I recently had a call from a candidate who wanted to be a freelance trainer. I gave them some advice about steps to take. A week later I got a call from an agency that supplies freelancers. They followed this up by emailing through details of a trainer for a Web design course. All the details had been inflated to such an extent it was no longer the same candidate.
In short the individual upgrades their CV for the job agency who in turn might be tempted to revamp the candidate into something they are not.
Unfortunately finding this out in an Interview is a waste of time and resources.
Ideally we need new qualifications that link the ability to teach and create exercises to the technical requirements within the applications.
In the absence of this the best alternative is the telephone Interview.
This is my preference prior to inviting any candidate to our offices for an interview in person'.
A candidate who has vaguely claimed to be at an Intermediate level in Excel can be quizzed about the differences between Goal Seek and Solver.
This is an ideal sifting tool and saves both my and candidate's time.
After many years of conducting interviews (this will involve a practical 30 min demonstration of an application plus traditional interview), I have found that the proof is truly in the pudding.
I can look at a seemingly outstanding CV and think looks good', but until I've heard/seen some kind of demonstration of the candidate's knowledge, I'm happy to put that carefully constructed self promo to one side.
Back to Leo.
What makes him so different to my friend, the trainer in waiting with his highly propagated CV?
Why don't we see him as a liar, a sly opportunist with no real entitlement to success, but rather as someone deserving of achievement despite the irregular methods he has used to achieve it?
Because when they called his bluff, he somehow produced the goods. Time and time again.
Learn more about the author, John Caulfield.
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- lying on your cv