Every graduate of today’s traditional and new online MBA schools should take a lesson from the cautionary tale of former Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson. As reported in The New York Times, Thompson left his position without a severance package after a shareholder discovered that Thompson had lied on his resume. Thompson claimed to have bachelor’s degrees in both accounting and computer science; he did, in fact, only have a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
According to U.S. News and World Report, 69 percent of hiring managers have caught an applicant lying on his or her resume at some point. Of those who lied, 20 percent fabricated a nonexistent education credential. Take Ronald Zarrella, the former CEO of Bausch & Lomb and another example of a famous resume padder. Zarrella claimed an MBA from NYU that he had started but never actually completed. Zarrella lost his bonus of about $1 million but got to keep his job. When Zarrella left in 2008, he left amidst a series of product recalls and product liability lawsuits against Bausch & Lomb.
In addition to lying about education credentials, applicants often fudge dates on their resume to hide gaps in employment. Some applicants want to hide an embarrassing firing while others want to disguise a period of job hopping. Women, especially, may feel that they can’t reenter the workforce after an extensive maternity leave.
Some applicants also make up completely false statements about their careers, and these fabrications extend well outside of the business world. In 2001, Notre Dame football coach George O’Leary was forced to resign after falsifying his academic and athletic credentials. He had only worked for the university for five days. Food Network chef Robert Irvine also lied on his resume, claiming that he had made Princess Diana’s wedding cake and that he had worked as a White House chef. In 2009, Irvine was fired from Food Network, but he was later rehired to appear on Worst Cooks in America.
Today’s job economy is tough for new graduates, but padding your resume isn’t a surefire way to the corner office. Even if your doctored resume does land a job for you, your tenure will most likely end when the dishonesty comes to light. Scott Thompson may have not only lost his job at Yahoo but also cost himself any future positions with a Fortune 500 company. Thompson also has thyroid cancer and may find himself not only unemployed but also without health insurance.
You may not have graduated from an Ivy League MBA program, and you may feel as though your state college MBA can’t compete with an MBA from Harvard. However, creating a false education credential or falsifying other resume information not only deceives your present employer but may also haunt you as you progress in your career. Don’t allow dishonesty to topple you at the apex of your career. Create an honest and thorough resume that presents your credentials with integrity.