As unemployment continues to hover around ten percent (if you are an optimist) or seventeen percent (if you are a realist), a job hunter might do well to ask herself if what she puts on her resume matters. Selling oneself in a buyer’s market is after all easier said than done, so when the rejection slips start piling up, or, as is the modern “human resources” response to applicants, the lack of rejection slips or indeed any notification whatsoever keeps her in-box empty, the huntress may wonder if she should burnish the arrows in her experiential quiver.
Padding a resume, or curriculum vitae as we in the academy call this autobiographical novella, is irresistible for a certain kind of would-be employee. Every conference attended, every membership on every committee, every letter written to the editor, every scrap of recognition earned since and including the perfect attendance ribbon at Sunday school is painstakingly recorded to document what a great hire the applicant would be. One is tempted to feel sympathy for a search committee charged with the soporific task of finding successful keepers amidst the losing weepers in the avalanche of enhanced resumes it receives for any given position, or to forgive the committee if in its puffery-induced somnolence it fails to assign a reject to its proper pile.
Such might be the case for the Texas A&M committee that recommended Alexander Kemos be hired as associate executive vice president for operations in February 2009. Mr. Kemos was quickly promoted to senior vice president for administration in March of that same year. Now, just a little over a year later, he’s in so tight with the president to whom he reports that the two are off vacationing together in Maine. Cozy. Or at least it was until Mr. Kemos abruptly resigned in order to fulfill an irresistible “desire to spend more time with his family.” So said A&M President R. Bowen Loftin.
Why the sudden familial urge? It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the recent discovery that Mr. Kemos possessed neither the Master’s degree nor the Ph.D. in international relations he claimed to have earned from Tufts University. And I seriously doubt his need to have more quality time with his kids was in any way related to the other fabrication on his resume, his service as an elite Navy SEAL.
At the time of his employment at Texas A&M, the faux Dr. Kemos must have seemed nothing short of dreamy. Supposedly fluent in Greek, Arabic and French, he must have looked like a quite a catch. His impressive academic credentials, moreover, probably had faculty members on the search committee squealing with delight. Clearly it did not occur to them to wonder why anyone genuinely in possession of the phony Dr.’s alleged bona fides would take—or want—a job that entailed ensuring the “management, oversight and strategic planning in areas such as facilities and operations, governmental affairs, athletics, transportation services, dining services, marketing and communications, and university advancement.”
But, then, again, perhaps search committee members truly believed that a Ph.D. in diplomacy was a requirement for the position, given its specifics: “engage the Office of the Executive Vice President for Operations into academic discussions related to construction, facilities, research, real estate and physical plant priorities, as well as maintain and build relationships with stakeholders across the University.” Anybody who has ever tried to have a rational discussion about office space with a faculty member knows that not only diplomatic skills but also the training a SEAL receives will come in handy.
The reports out of Texas do not make it clear if Mr. Kemos remains employed by Texas A&M, only that he is no longer its senior vice president. If he is indeed unemployed, I hope he has a pleasant summer with his family. Maybe he can squeeze in some “me time” to work on his resume.
In the meantime, for those among us who do not lie about our credentials, searching for a new job just got a little harder.