Dave D. and his wife counted themselves lucky: they'd been in the right place at the right time more than once. When a family member's health began to fail, they were able to sell their software business and retire to help him manage. In their forties, their good fortune and low-key lifestyle meant they wouldn't have to return to work unless they wanted to.
After a couple of years, things had settled into a routine and Dave was ready to consider new opportunities. A local startup was courting him for a senior position, and their engineering team, relatively young and untested, seemed excited to have a steady hand at the tiller. But this startup was unusual: no hiring decision could be made on nautical metaphors alone. They - specifically, their overlords at WTF Ventures, Inc. - prided themselves on fusing the discipline and professionalism of the corporate world to the innovation and foosball-playing of startup culture.
That fusion is what put Dave across a boardroom table from Regina, the Head of HR, explaining why he had no "Education" section on his résumé.
"I went to college briefly in the late 'eighties," Dave said, "but dropped out with my business partner to start our first consulting company." Regina raised her eyebrows, so Dave continued. "I suppose I left some college off my résumé to make room for the subsequent twenty-five years of experience..."
"Hmm. But don't you feel unfulfilled?" Regina said.
"Unfulfilled?" Dave blinked. "Well... no. Fortunate, lucky, free." He counted the adjectives off on his fingers. "I feel a lot of things, but not unfulfilled."
Regina raised her eyebrows again, so, once more, Dave elaborated. "I'm forty-five, and you're trying to lure me out of retirement to run engineering at a startup. I feel pretty fulfilled."
"Oh," Regina said. "We'll need an affidavit of education."
"A what?" Dave had to compose himself. "Pardon me. I'm not claiming to have any education. I'm sorry, I don't quite understand what you'd need an affidavit for...?"
"We're seeing a lot of fraud around claimed but unearned academic credentials," Regina said. Now it was Dave's turn to silently prompt her to continue. "You know: people with a Bachelor's claiming to be doctoral graduates. We need to see an affidavit."
Dave toyed with what it would take to get his almost-mater to certify that he had, in fact, attended two full years of undergraduate Computer Engineering. He couldn't even remember if he'd started in the 1986-87 academic year or what his cumulative GPA had been.
Regina took his silence as an opportunity to lean forward and add, "The affidavit must be notarized, of course."
"This all seems a little backwards," Dave said. Regina raised her- you get the idea. "I'm not sure what you want an affidavit from me to substantiate: that I don't secretly have an advanced degree in nuclear engineering? That I'm not lying to you now to cover up my possession of a tenured professorship?"
"Sorry, but that's our policy. We don't want to take a chance on anyone claiming educational accolades they never actually received." Regina passed his résumé - tagged EDUCATION??? in bold red marker at the bottom â€” back across the table. "You'll need a notarized affidavit stating your true level of education."
Dave opted to withdraw his application instead. After careful consideration, he determined that the life of an early-retiree was more commensurate with his academic achievements.