Two Cent Tuesday: Stop Hiding From The Truth

Two Cent Tuesday: Stop Hiding From The Truth


“Three things cannot long be hidden; the sun, the moon, and the truth.” ~ Buddha

Last year we had a civil engineer come to us as he was actively exploring new opportunities. We had him interview with three clients, and it was apparent that all three firms were getting ready to make an offer, contingent upon references and maybe one final interview.

He was a PE with 15 years of experience, a great attitude, a good looking resume with solid experience. He indicated he was gainfully employed, had really good communication skills, he was always responsive, his compensation was on par, he was looking to relocate and relocation was easy as it was just him and his cat.

In the end, some things just did not add up, and none of the great traits I mentioned above mattered, as above all else he was a bullshit artist.
After I called him to the carpet, he magically disappeared into thin air.

I could have brushed what I found out under the rug and placed him, but I choose to do my clients right.


Just last week I spoke to a candidate who recently lost his job, he had been fired. With his background and experience, and in the thriving and robust civil engineering market that we are in, I went into the conversation with eyes wide open. After fully going over his background and experience with him, I had to address the elephant in the room, and it was almost as though he was not expecting my line of questioning. Really?

I attempted to dig into the circumstances which led to his termination.
He danced.
He squirmed.
He beat around the bush.
And I ran in the other direction.

Shit happens, I get it. But your only option is the truth.

Taking the high road during the interview process is the ONLY option.


Did you fail to pass the PE Exam?
Don’t make excuses.
Re-evaluate the situation.
What could you have done better to prepare?
Are you going to be bogged down by the fact that you fell 2 points short and wallow in misery? Or are you going to apply to take the exam the very next time and study your ass off to make sure you pass with flying colors?

Were you fired?
I get it, sometimes it’s an ethical issue, or sometimes it’s a situation where you just don’t see eye-to-eye with your boss.
But be honest with yourself.
Look yourself in the mirror; were you to blame?
If so, use it as a teaching moment, take the necessary steps to make a positive change, and don’t be afraid to share that with your potential new employer.

Did you toe the line of professional ethics and get caught?
I was recently contacted by a PE who had his own civil engineering practice, and I emphasize the word “had,” as he toed that line.
He got caught.
He is suffering the consequences.
But he was upfront and honest about that with me.
He realized that he made a mistake and he was willing to start from scratch.
He was just looking for someone to give him that second chance.
I did not represent him, but there is undoubtedly someone out there who will give him a second chance because he made himself vulnerable and addressed his circumstances from the get-go.

I don’t know about you, but if someone shoots straight with me right out of the gate, and if they have a plan of action to overcome their faults, or errors in judgment, etc, I am inclined to give them a second chance.

If you are wishy-washy, deflect blame, are unaccountable, or skirt around an issue that is a clear elephant in the room, well…you’re out.
And if you somehow manage to convince someone of anything but the truth, it will undoubtedly catch up with you and drag you down.  It always does.

That’s my two cents…please comment and share yours!

  • Matt Richardi, PE
    Posted at 09:01h, 07 March Reply

    It’s funny. I find that complete honesty is always the best course of action. While interviewing recently, the prospective employer had a copy of my resume and my “work” resume that is typically attached to RFQs when my company is going after jobs. The employer could clearly see what I have and have not done, so I have nothing to hide. When they started “telling me about the position” I realized it was much more than their posting had said it was. I immediately got out in front of it and shared how I didn’t have specific skill sets or qualifications for that position, but I was willing to learn and adapt. They said “we know you don’t, but from your resume, you look like you could handle it. That’s why we called you.” I could have tried to fake it, but they already knew. If I hoped they would just bypass the issue, it likely would have been brought up by them instead. I have noticed, if I bring up a flaw or a missing skill, the interviewer seems to come to my defense because they have already discussed the situation internally. However, if I wait for them to bring it up, then I’m put in the spotlight to come up with a clever solution and it likely doesn’t match with what they previously discussed internally. I would rather have them defend my lack of ability than me sell them on why my lack of ability is a good thing.

    • Matt Barcus
      Posted at 11:39h, 07 March Reply

      Hi Matt, thanks for sharing your story, and that is another great example. Sometimes candidates get in over their heads which leads to misery, so when interviewing it is important that one recognizes areas that need improvement. Being up front is super important so that expectations are crystal clear, from both parties. In fact, I have a candidate that is interviewing right now that has some really strong experience, just what our client is looking for, he also has a great attitude and willingness to learn. The area he falls short in is marketing and business development, and he made sure that they knew that. In fact, that is why he is exploring so he can be more aggressively mentored in that arena. If they are willing to invest the time, he is willing to go all in! And this may be better than waiting who knows how long for the perfect candidate to surface.

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