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Resume Fraud – Never A Good Idea

by Ryan Guina

Yahoo recently announced they would fire their CEO four months into his tenure after it was revealed that his resume had some “inconsistencies” with his academic credentials. If you haven’t read the stories, his bio at Yahoo lists his undergrad degrees as Accounting and Computer Science, but he only has an Accounting degree.

There are a few varying stories regarding whether or not Scott Thompson submitted a falsified resume to Yahoo. He says he didn’t even submit a resume, and his interview and subsequent hiring were based on his body of work and his background (he was the former President of PayPal and has served as director at several other companies, so he has extensive leadership experience). But CNN reported that Yahoo’s annual report filed with the SEC falsely listed the Computer Science degree – and this is a problem because the CEO is required to personally sign the document and attest to its truthfulness.

A fraudulent can cost you your job and reputation

A fraudulent can cost you your job and reputation

Regardless of whether or not Thompson submitted the false resume, his official bio contained false information – and that lead to his dismissal as CEO. (To be fair – there is a lot going on behind the scenes here, as the investigation was prompted by some minority shareholders who wanted representation on the board). But the fact remains, that Thompson likely would have gotten the job without the false information in his resume or bio, and there probably wouldn’t have been any reason to fire him 4 months into his tenure.

Resume Fraud Can Cost You a Job – and More

Scot Thompson lost his job – and his severance (Thompson was, however, able to keep $7 million worth of signing bonuses and stock grants – not bad for 4 months work).

I’m sure Scott Thompson will land on his feet. He has an extensive leadership background and continues to serve in other leadership capacities. In the grand scheme of things, this likely won’t prevent him from finding another job. It does however, create some long term problems with credibility. Many corporations and boards place a high value on ethics, and being caught in a fraudulent scandal will automatically cross him off the list at some companies. So he will likely find work, but not as easily as he may have otherwise done it without this hanging over his head.

It’s not just high ranking people who falsify their resumes and bios. The same thing can happen to you if you submit a fraudulent resume for a job application. Most companies and hiring managers do some sort of background check when they hire employees. It may be as basic as a criminal background check, or, for higher level positions, it can be as deep as a full background check, including verifying your resume and educational background.

The safe thing – both professionally and morally – is to always be truthful when writing your resume. The last thing you want is to be hired, only to be fired shortly afterward for a fraudulent resume. You would not only lose the job you just got, but potentially lose out on other positions, either those which you declined interviews for after you got hired at your new job, or from other companies which would decline to even interview you if they got wind of your lack of ethics when you applied to your former position. And don’t dismiss the last possibility – some industries are very tight and many of them have contacts at other companies. I’ve worked in some of those industries where news travels very quickly and it is easy to see your professional stock rise or drop very quickly.

Falsifying your resume is just not worth damaging your personal or professional reputation.


Published or updated April 14, 2013.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shawanda

I don’t understand why someone with as much experience as Scott Thompson would feel compelled to lie on his resume. What value could a computer science degree add? I suspect Yahoo was having a bad case of buyer’s remorse and looking for an excuse to can the guy.

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2 Ryan Guina

I agree Shawanda – there wasn’t much to be gained by adding a fictitious undergrad degree. I think the issue goes beyond just buyer’s remorse though – by certifying the filings with the SEC, Scott Thompson committed fraud, which is a definite cause for termination. It is difficult to answer to shareholders when you have a CEO who has been caught violating ethical standards. On top of that, there were minority shareholders who were looking to get onto the board of directors to establish a greater voice in the future direction of the company. When you put it all together, there was more than enough reason to give him his walking papers.

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