Are you as good as you say you are on paper?

Screen shot 2012 05 07 at 5.25.35 PM 300x225 Are you as good as you say you are on paper?Last week we heard about Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s “inadvertent error” which included listing a degree that he did not earn on his resume. As a result, industry experts predict that Yahoo’s momentum may stall – and its corporate governance may be called into question.

Yahoo, according to its code of ethics, is “committed to conducting . . . business in accordance with the highest standards of business conduct.” Critics of Thompson mention that his resume gaffe may be in violation of the company’s policy – inadvertent or not.
This is not the first time that an executive has misrepresented himself on a resume:

  • Bausch & Lomb CEO Ronald Zarrella: Gave up more than $1 million in bonus compensation in 2002 when the public learned that he hadn’t really gotten an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business
  • RadioShack CEO David Edmondson: Resigned in 2006 when it became public that he hadn’t earned the two degrees he claimed on his resume
  • Veritas Software CFO Kenneth Lonchar: Resigned in 2002 after Veritas Software learned that he didn’t hold the MBA he claimed

Amazingly, a study conducted in 2009 by ADP found that 46 percent of reference checks in the hiring process turned up discrepancies. And, less than half of companies check to see if job applicants actually attended the schools listed on their resumes, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Now that the issue of lying on your resume has been – again – brought into the spotlight, it is more important than ever for job seekers to tell the truth and avoid negativity within the job search. Here are some reasons that you should NEVER lie on your resume:

  1. The Internet exists. Between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, your old blog, a hacked email account, a photo sharing application, Pinterest and other online records, a savvy hiring manager will probably have very little trouble digging up your past endeavors. Own them – and double-check your privacy settings.
  2. You’ll probably get caught. When you do get caught, no self-respecting employer will trust a word that comes out of your mouth from that point on. There are millions of job seekers out of work, and employers can easily move to the next candidate – the one with a clean record.
  3. Your memory is not flawless. As Sam Rayburn (a Texas politician) said, “You’ll never get mixed up if you simply tell the truth. Then you don’t have to remember what you have said, and you never forget what you have said.”

Have you ever misrepresented yourself on your resume?

Whether it be your skill set, your education or the duration of time you spent with your previous employer, make sure you are telling the truth to put your best foot forward to potential employers in your job search. As in Scott Thompson’s case, even a small stretching of the truth on your paper resume may come back to bite you in the . . . well, you know where we’re going with this.

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