With nearly every modern fact now searchable and easily confirmed, it is amazing that job applicants today still falsify information on their résumés. Some industries are more sensitive than others. For example, untruthful employees in sectors subject to more rigorous compliance like banking, wealth management or insurance could pose more employer liability than others. The reasons behind misrepresentation range from arrogance that applicants won’t get caught to shame that their actual credentials aren’t competitive enough to get hired. In general, prospective employs lie in two different ways. The first type is falsely claiming a degree they never earned. The second is claiming a degree from an institution which lacks accreditation. While both are egregious, this article focuses solely on the former.
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- Recently, the National University of Singapore (NUS) had a bit of a scandal when Anoop Shankar claimed bogus credentials on his applications. He was able to get a professorship at NUS but when he applied to an American university, a routine pre-employment background check uncovered the fraud.
Scott Thompson only held the post of Yahoo CEO for five months because he falsely claimed an additional degree in Computer Science. In this case, it was likely more the result of an activist board looking for any excuse to control Yahoo, but the end-result is the same. When people start digging into your background, what will they find?
Back in 2002, the Chief Financial Officer of Veritas Software Corp, claimed an MBA from Stanford University. Kenneth Lonchar later resigned after the fake accomplishments were discovered.
Ronald Zarrella claimed he earned an MBA from Stern-NYU. He was promoted to CEO of Bausch & Lomb, the maker of eye care products. While he did take classes at the Stern School of Business, he never matriculated. As a result of his falsehood, he had to forfeit a USD1.1 million bonus.
The director of research at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) was forced to part ways with his employer after his supposed law degree from the University of Southern California turned out to be a slight exaggeration. Ram Kumar left the school a few credits shy of receiving said degree, but the fib was enough to cost him his job.
- Claiming a PhD from Pepperdine, black belt in Tae Kwon Do and fighter pilot experience in the US Marine Corps, former Lotus CEO Jeffrey Papows takes the cake for telling tall tales. After his past caught up with him, he was forced to resign and end his 23-year career with the company.
- David Edmondson resigned his post as CEO Radio Shack, the American technology retailer, after falsely claiming two college degrees.
- In 2007, Marilee Jones was the Dean of Admissions at MIT. Arguably, she was in the ideal position to know the importance of being honest about academic achievement. Yet, despite her position, she lied multiple times on her CV about schools she attended and degrees she earned. She finally resigned from MIT when confronted about her background. However, this only bubbled to the surface after working there for almost 3 decades!
Singapore-based Patrick Imbardelli was recruited to InterContinental Hotels and promoted to CEO of Asia Pacific. Unfortunately, he had padded his resume a bit too much and his fabrications caught up with him. It was a promotion to the ICH governing board which prompted additional scrutiny and brought the lies to light.
Tang Jun 唐骏 served as President of Microsoft China and claimed a PhD in computer science from Caltech. Later, the publisher of his biography issued a correction without this degree. The blogger Fang Zhouzi exposed this on his website New Threads.
The reality today is that background checks are becoming more common in Asia. Lying on a CV is on the rise in Asia. Some reports state 19% of Singapore applicants and 16% of Hong Kong applicants give inaccurate information about their credentials. Based on these trends, employers should use more rigorous screening methods in their hiring. Email me to find out how Checkbox can conduct background screening for your next hire! email@example.com