August marks 3 months since activist investor and hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb confronted Yahoo’s directors with the possibility that CEO Scott Thompson may have falsified his resume. Thompson’s resume boasted a Stonehill College bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science when, in fact, he has a bachelor of science in business administration with a major in accounting.
It took only 11 days for Thompson’s credibility to deteriorate with the board, leading to his very public demise and the end of his respected business career.
Why Did Thompson Lie?
It seems absurd or even silly for a high-ranking executive to lie about his credentials, especially nowadays when nearly everything can be verified by a quick phone call or Internet search. But, as I’m sure you know, ethics violations by America’s leaders like padding or lying on resumes happen more often than people tend to think.
Thompson never admitted to the lie, instead he fumed at Loeb’s interference. And while saying his major was computer science and accounting rather than just accounting may not seem like a big deal to most people, in Silicon Valley, it is.
Resumes Lies By Everyday Businessmen
Businessmen and women aren’t exempt from resume lies. According to The Miami Herald story “Lying on a resume a really bad idea,” studies show half of all resumes include a little padding and a third contain outright lies. And according to a CNN article, a 2010 HireRight survey of nearly 2,000 organizations, 69 percent reported catching a job candidate lying on his or her resume. These numbers may jump even higher in times of economic stress and high unemployment.
As a recruiter, you may have come across the most common resume padding or lies including falsifying dates to mask employment gaps, exaggerating job titles or salary and, the biggie, falsifying academic degrees.
Lying On A Video Resume Is Even Worse
In this day and age, video reigns supreme. YouTube users upload 24 hours of video every minute, which is viewed two billion times per day. Noticing the popularity of video, many job seekers seized the opportunity to enhance their traditional print resumes by incorporating video.
But, in the HR world, resumes lies are subject to the scrutiny as their print counterparts. In fact, you may even find that lies caught on video can be even more damning. Take former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton for example. Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” and Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” live in infamy. There’s no denying the lie when it’s seen coming from the horse’s mouth. (See TIME’s Top 10 List of Unfortunate Political One-Liners.)
Scott Thompson will never be able to ‘Google’ his name without encountering stories depicting his resume lie. But, unlike Nixon and Clinton, he will never have to watch himself deliver the lie over and over again.
Does Lying Ever Pay Off?
In the days of airbrushed photos and constant revamping, one may find a little resume fib to be admissible. In reality, we know it is not. There is a thin line between minor glossing and outright lying.
Resume lies on paper or video are a serious matter because they can leave HR with no other option but to end someone’s career. It is of utmost importance for job applicants to keep their resumes and other materials honest and transparent. As a recruiter, if you see dates left out and the applicant later explains they were unsure of the exact time spans, you are likely to still keep them in the running rather than nixing them from the first evidence of an outright lie.
How do you screen resumes for lies and inconsistencies? Do you think lies caught on video are worse for someone’s career than those in print?