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Degrees, job histories shouldn’t be ‘finessed’

A recent investigation alleged Fostoria’s new police chief, John McGuire, misrepresented himself on his resume.

On March 31, Melanie Widman, an attorney for the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, announced a background check that revealed an inconsistency in McGuire’s online bachelor’s degree from Concordia College and University.

McGuire reportedly paid $499.99 for an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the offshore, Virgin Islands-based institution.

The Virgin Islands’ postal code is VI. McGuire and Fostoria Mayor John Davoli said a resume consultant for McGuire mistakenly thought the code stood for Virginia, whose postal code is VA, and put that state on the resume.

According to reports by the (Fostoria) Review Times, the police chief also exaggerated his rank at two previous jobs.

Errors like these can cause serious problems for not only public figures but University students looking for jobs as well, said Rodney Fleming, managing attorney at BGSU’s Student Legal Services.

“Any untruths you place in a resume are considered fraud,” he said. “Employers have the duty to hire responsible people for their particular positions.”

Fleming said most often resume fraud results in firing or even a lawsuit.

McGuire hasn’t faced any legal action yet, but is concerned about the effect the allegations may have on his reputation.

Last week, the Review Times reported McGuire was meeting with his personal lawyer to discuss potential civil suits against local media outlets.

“If someone has slandered or libeled me … obviously they are going to pay the consequences,” McGuire told the Review Times.

But JoAnn Kroll, director of the University’s Career Center, said it’s the job seeker or employee who usually faces punishment.

“It’s important [University graduates] try not to finesse their degree,” she said. “If they do, it’s grounds for dismissal because if a person is kept despite failure with credentials then the employer is liable to be sued for negligence.”

As a result, when a person is hired, most employers verify the information on the application, Kroll said.

Once the job seeker signs the application, many companies conduct background checks and make calls.

Kroll said colleges listed on resumes are almost always verified, especially if the employer is a fairly large company.

And she said while some students believe they can spice up their involvement in campus organizations, employers make a point to ask about the organization’s recent meetings and activities.

“Character and integrity are very important to employers,” she said. “Many students aren’t good at lying under pressure – if [the employer] determines that you’ve added that to your resume, then it causes them to doubt the truthfulness of everything else you’ve told them in the interview.”

Fleming said students need to be aware of the difference between mistakes and intentional exaggerations.

“It’s much more understandable when it’s just a typographical error,” he said, “rather than if you’ve never worked [at a place] or you don’t actually have a bachelor’s degree and you’re claiming you do.”

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