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Is Your Résumé a Reflection of Who You Are, or is it a Fake?

Just in case you haven’t heard the news, the former head of PayPal, and recent CEO of Yahoo! has tendered his resignation five months after assuming the position. He fudged his resume – just a wee bit – by stating that he has a degree in Computer Science and one in Accounting. A vigilant shareholder, apparentlywith his own motives, did some research and found that the CEO does not have a degree in computer science. This is yet another high profile person who has had to resign his job because of inaccuracies in his resume.

Several years ago I wrote an article titled, Lying on Résumés…Alarmingly Common, and it looked at several high profile individuals who had embellished their resumes. A former manager of a professional baseball team had to retract a statement that he was an All American Basketball player, and that he played basketball at UCLA prior to signing with the Dodgers. Another sports executive switched his degree from social work to business administration in an attempt to gain an edge in the purchase of a sports team.

In Canada, a politician had to quit his caucus when it was revealed he never attended law school as he claimed on his résumé. There was also a ‘doctor wannabe’ who practiced medicine in the US and Canada for 10 years before it was found out he never had a medical degree. In 2007, the former dean of admissions at MIT had to resign after she lied about her academic credentials. She said at the time: “I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to MIT 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since.

So, whether it’s a degree that one does not have, or skills or duties that are exaggerated, it is obvious that many people feel compelled to beef up their resumes with fake accomplishments. More often than not the perpetrator is someone in a senior role. This leaves one to wonder why people who have been successful on their own merit, feel that they should embellish their qualifications.

Although reference is being made to people at high levels of an organization, it does not mean others with lesser qualifications are not using the same tactics. Surveys show from time to time that a vast number of people – ranging from general office to senior executives – pad their resumes. But as these people have found out it is never a good idea to exaggerate one’s credentials. Sometimes it takes five months to uncover the truth; at other times up to 28 years, but when it happens it can have a devastating impact on one’s career.

Since spring is in the air and the Yahoo story so recent, it may be a good time to review your resume and make sure that every  employer, date of employment, and achievement is correct. No one wants to be caught in embarrassing situations like these.