Lessons Learned Via Yahoo! CEO: Always Have an Accurate Resume

Always tell the truth. In life, in job searching, in everything.

By now you may have heard that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson allegedly beefed up his resume with both a computer science degree and accounting degree even though he graduated with an accounting degree from Stonehill College. The matter is the resume was falsified and now his integrity is at stake.

Yahoo referred to the mistake as an “inadvertent error” and their board hired outside counsel to review the false statement. Regardless of the outcome, it seems the damage has already been done.

Here’s the thing about fudging a resume, no matter how big or small: It will come back to haunt you at some point. Background checks are in place for a reason and although this wasn’t caught initially, it eventually surfaced. Whatever you do in the job search process, if there’s anything to be learned from all of this, is to always tell the truth. Always be above board — whether it’s a degree, job title, length of employment, employer. Always, always, always.

John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm told CNN an “exhaustive” process isn’t always going to capture everything right down to the degree.

One falsification in your career may not seem like a big deal similar to telling someone an innocent little, white lie but in addition to catching up to you, it may inevitably be difficult to escape and in the end. Plus, the initial lie may eventually seem irrelevant to your accomplishments other than tarnishing your integrity. Forever.

The questions speak for themselves: Does the fact that he doesn’t really have a computer science degree impact his role as CEO? Not really. Does the fact that it was falsified reflect his integrity and reputation as a CEO? That would be a resounding yes.

Challenger pointed out in the piece: “Yahoo hired him for what he’s done in the past five, 10 years. It doesn’t really matter for someone at this point in his career what he did at 22.”

He added, “He may have felt at some point in his career that he needed an extra something — and then he couldn’t get rid of it.”