Is Scott Thompson (recently ousted CEO of Yahoo!)  the only CEO or high-level executive ever to have embellished his resume?  Of course not.  He is, however, the latest to get caught.  Unfortunately, these falsifications and resulting dismissals happen more often than the honest job seekers, recruiters and employers out there would like to think.

Here are some of the more memorable high-profile fibs and firings:

2001- Sandra Baldwin lost her job as president of the US Olympic Committee after she was accused of having false academic information on her resume.

2001- George O’Leary resigned just five days after being hired as a football coach at Notre Dame, admitting that he lied about his academic and athletic backgrounds.

2005- David Edmondson, CEO of Radio Shack, resigned after controversy about his resume’s accuracy.

2007- Marilee Jones, dean of admissions at MIT, resigned after finally admitting that she had falsified her resume when she applied to work at MIT in the 70s.

2008- James DeHoniesto, chief information officer at Cabot Microelectronics Corporation, was let go after it was discovered that he did not have the bachelor’s degree he claimed to have earned.

The public attention of these cases (and so many others) apparently did little to thwart or warn the countless resume inflation artists out there; as the 2012 study below suggests, resume forgery is alive and well!  And, while the number of fraudulent resumes that gets public attention is relatively low, this study claims that more than half (53%) of resumes and applications are tainted with untruths.   Here are a few of the study’s* key findings:

  • Resumes and job applications that contain falsifications 53 %
  • College students surveyed who would lie on a resume to get a job they want 70 %
  • Resumes that are misleading 78 %
  • Resumes that state fraudulent degrees 21 %
  • Show altered employment dates 29 %
  • Have inflated salary claims 40 %
  • Have inaccurate job descriptions 33 %
  • Give falsified references 27 %

*These numbers were gathered by Accu-Screen, Inc., ADP, and published by The Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).

Another study by Marquet International, took a look at the most common areas lied about on the resume.  They found that most of the deception came in the forms of:

  • Enhancing job titles
  • Education exaggeration and degree fabrication
  • Unexplained gaps and periods of “self-employment”
  • Omitting past employment
  • Faking credentials
  • Fabricating reasons for leaving a previous job
  • Providing fraudulent references
  • Misrepresenting military record

These numbers don’t tell the stories of why resume fraud is such a problem, but I can take a guess.  I suppose there is an ever so slight chance that these things happen by accident.  Perhaps a typing error could turn a BA degree into an MA degree or a $40,000 salary to a $50,000.  But, sadly, the majority of these things happen with full intention.

Whether the candidate is too proud to admit past faults, too ashamed to look like a lesser candidate, or too desperate to risk another rejection, there is no moral gray area here.  No matter the case, it is better to be portrayed as and hired for who you actually are because eventually you’ll have to prove it!

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