Is it fair to employers and competing candidates if you exaggerate your credentials?

Posted on 19/05/2014 by Emma Dadswell


So Yahoo’s Chief Executive, Scott Thompson, has stepped down following claims he fibbed on his CV. But how many others have falsified their résumés without being rumbled? And is it fair to employers and competing candidates if you exaggerate your credentials?

After less than six months in the job Thompson has resigned and been replaced by Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo’s fifth CEO in as many years. According to The Guardian, Thomson claimed he had a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Accounting from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. In fact, according to the college, the degree was in Accounting – he never studied Computer Science at all.

Your CV should be a showcase of your skills, experience and ability. It’s no secret that many candidates chose their words carefully when outlining their academic and professional accomplishments – but at which point do embellishments become fallacies?

The fact that Scott was adept enough to secure the role in the first place, and that he had previously been president of PayPal suggests that he knew his stuff - so why lie?

Maybe he lied about his university degree early in his career – when the stakes were lower, and before he had the experience to back up his credentials. Perhaps he thought, as the CEO of one of the world’s most viewed webpages, nobody would ever question his degree. It is possible that Thompson was generally underperforming professionally and the fake qualification was a get out clause for Yahoo. Who knows? But one thing is certain, by not reviewing your CV regularly, you run the risk of overlooking false or outdated claims which may be detrimental to your career - and not just during the application stage, but further along the line as well.

So what’s the moral of this story? If there are gaps in your education or employment history, don’t cover them up – fill them. It’s never too late to undertake further study or work experience to improve your skill-set. Honesty is important to potential employers, so if you currently have half-truths on your CV -remove them. If you get caught out you can instantly lose your credibility and appear untrustworthy. If your education history is not relevant to the job you are applying for, explain and emphasise transferable skills you possess.

Had Thompson deprived a more deserving candidate of the position by faking his qualification? I guess we’ll never know. But by sticking to the facts when updating your own CV, you can ensure that you will never face the embarrassment of being labeled a liar and a cheat. Do you need to edit your CV?