Lessons in Awesomeness for job hunters

This recent Oregonian headline made me laugh out loud:

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“Awesome aftermath…” Photo by Gabrielle Nygaard

It seems like something from The Onion, or maybe a Portlandia episode, but no. This is real life. The Kyle Awesome debacle is the shame of my slice of suburbia (as if we didn’t have enough on our plate already, with such a redundant name).

If you haven’t heard, the gist is that Banks, population 1,700, hired Kyle Awesome as city manager in 2012. He was an impressive, candidate… perhaps conspicuously so. His resume boasted high-level work with the White House and a stint as executive vice president of a publishing company, all on top of a doctorate earned in 2010 from Georgetown University and master’s in 2006.

Awesome (born Franklin Kyle Hayes) passed a background check and was hired in September. But after my hometown newspaper questioned his background, he suddenly resigned less than two months later, taking off for an “undisclosed job at the White House.”

None of his resume’s claims have been substantiated, except that he served in the Army from 2004 to 2012. The publishing company? Doesn’t exist. Georgetown? Never heard of him.

It’s laughable, and simultaneously a little depressing. Because, come on… The title “Dr. Awesome” didn’t raise any eyebrows? No red flags from his claim to have, at just 33, somehow racked up all these degrees and job titles while serving in two wars? Really?  Forget the background check, how did none of this make so much as a blip on the employer’s BS meter?

Well, the damage has been done. I might find it funnier if he hadn’t swindled so much money… and maybe if I wasn’t from the area. But we can at least avoid making the same mistakes.

Oregon job-seekers—and everyone everywhere—can learn a lesson or two about (mind the strategic capitalization) being awesome by not being Awesome:

  • Don’t misrepresent yourself on your resume or elsewhere, be it hyperbole or straight-up fabrication. Naturally, you want to find the most effective way to present your qualifications and skills, but it all must be grounded in fact. For great tips on doing this honestly, check out Mac’s List
  • You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of—no, let’s just stop right there. It will catch up to you in the end, so quit while you’re ahead. Don’t lie, especially if you have so much as a pinky in the realm of communications. I repeat, it will. catch up. to you.
  • Practice healthy skepticism. Be conscientious with your trust. You know how they say “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is”? Well… it’s for a reason.
  • Understand the value of public relations skills. In addition to image management, you need to be able to roll with the punches and have damage control down. Don’t underestimate PR, lest you end up the laughingstock of the Portland-area and get labeled a pack of gullible hillbillies… (we’re still trying to shake that one off)

To be fair, maybe Mr. Awesome is all he says he is and is having the last laugh right now at his job “running operations” at the White House.

But I sincerely doubt it.

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This blog post was inspired by the Mac’s List blog. As a Prichard Communications intern, I’ve had the good fortune to discuss job-search related topics with Mac and the team and benefit from their council through the ups and downs of my post-grad job hunt.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons in Awesomeness for job hunters

  1. This story in the Oregonian made me howl. You’d think that the name Kyle Awesome would have tipped off somebody. I guess Banks had to live up to the stereotype of small town government. Great way to introduce your topic, and draw in material from your internship. At some point, I may actually be able to teach you something in this course, though I’m beginning to have my doubts. Once again, awesome job (heh heh).

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