A Yahoo Lesson to Employment Candidates--You Can Lose Your Job When You Lie About Your Education

Fish got to swim, and birds got to fly.  And some employment candidates have to lie.  About their education, mainly.   Given the competitive job market, small wonder some will...ahem...stretch the truth in order to gain leverage when looking for a job.   It's understandable.  It's also pretty stupid.

Today,with most employers conducting education verification background checks as part of their employment screening programs, most likely the fictitious claim about having graduated or having obtained a graduate degree is bound to be discovered.   And by making these claims, you, the job applicant have with most employers nullified your chances of being considered for employment.     These days no self-respecting employer will merely take you at your word, or allow your protestations to sway them from looking further into your degree.

As a background checking service, when the degree claim cannot be verified, and when the candidate protests that who are we going to believe the candidate or the lying register, we ask for a copy of the diploma and/or the transcripts.  Some of the more enterprising or desperate employment candidates create bogus diplomas with Photo Shop or whatever.   Some will use an associate's diploma as a template, remove the associate's name and replace it with their own.  In case, the enterprising soul listed his graduation date as 1988.   Unfortunately for him, the university president that was listed on the diploma did not take office until 1995. Whoops.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, we have the current case of Scott Thompson, now recent head of Yahoo.   Thompson allegedly claimed a computer science degree on his resume--one he did not actually have.  Yahoo has acknowledged that Thompson does not have a computer science degree.    According to an article in the BBC, "activist, shareholder Daniel Loeb, discovered Thompson's mistake.

Now this was a high profile executive who, let us say, stretched the reality on his CV.   A man in the news, a man under scrutiny.  Yet, here we be with a bogus claim on a college degree.  Anymore, than we have candidates who claim graduation when they only attended that college or university.  And some didn't attend at all.  How they decided to pick that particular school is often a question of interest.   Did they pick a small, liberal arts college that they figured was so obscure no one would be conducting education verification?  Or when they select a large university are they thinking they may get lost in the crowd?

Bear in mind that four Yahoo executives approved hiring Scott Thompson.  And, not so coincidentally, the same four will be leaving their posts.   Why they didn't conduct the necessary background checks is a question for the ages.   Or was Thompson such a high profile candidate they simply took him at his word.  We recently had a recruiter take the candidate at his word, initially.   The employer even flew the candidate overseas for the first interview.  And then the fictitious profile started to unravel, beginning with false claims about an MBA that was apparently thrown in with the other verifiable degrees for good measure.  There were other factors, or, rather, other lies in that instance, including past employment.   Needless to say, the whole affair proved embarrassing to the recruiter.

So we know why job applicants lie about their education.  And we figure for the most part they realize they may be caught in that lie.  So are they that desperate to find work, or as with Thompson is there another motivating force.  Thompson probably didn't need a computer science degree in order to become President of Yahoo.  His career was going along just fine.   So then, here we are....

The moral of the story--if you lie about having a college degree or a post graduate degree, chances are the background check will show otherwise.   Chances are you will be caught.  At which point, with most employers, you will be dropped from consideration  for employment.  Not because you didn't have a degree, necessarily.   But because you lied.  As employers tell me, if they lied about their education then what else would they lie about?

Good question.


Views: 3817

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 19, 2012 at 4:51pm
They do it and some or pretty good at it. I had one who supplied her transcripts along with her resume. Certified transcript so didn't verify. Placed her with a public accounting firm. Six months later the sr. Partner called and said he didn't know what she was but she was not an accountant. I called the univ. they verified the degree with the social on the transcript. Weird. I went through the transcript about 19 times and finally in one little place I found a different social. Called the university back and ran the second social. She had a degree, not in accounting. Her ex husband did have an accounting degree. His name was Carl A. Her name was Carla. She had combined his transcript with hers, changed the social on two pages that reflected the accounting classes and a few other clever changes. It was n interesting piece of forgery.

We typed a resignation letter. Called her into the office put the letter on top of the transcript and told her it would probably be in her best interest to sign the letter if she wanted the transcript returned to her. Before she could say anything I suggested to her that since her ex was a sr. Manager with a big four firm it might be pretty messy if the university notified him that his records were being frozen based on his transcript being used by someone else. She signed and disappeared.

Two months later a fellow walked in my office asking to speak to our financial recruiter named Carla. When I told him we did not have a recruiter named Carla, he produced one of my business cards with her name handwritten above mine. She had met him on a plane told him she had just started at ny firm and didn't have her new cards yet. He had given her his resume and social so she could verify his degree and made an appointment for him to come to the office to meet with her. We quickly had him check with his univ. there had in fact been a request for his transcript to be sent to an address in Houston. The school flagged his records but most probably Carla the con artist is somewhere working as an accountant with a new altered transcript.

Some are just very clever but they will get caught.
Comment by Gordon Basichis on May 19, 2012 at 9:15pm

Sandra, sounds like your Carla may have moved on to a promising career in forging counterfeit sports memorabilia.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 20, 2012 at 2:37pm
People get caught in funny ways. I had one who had been on a job for over two years as a degreed accountant and doing well. Sitting in the break room one day he made the comment that he wanted to take a certain class. The person he commented to happened to be the wife of an accounting professor at the local university so knew that class was required for graduation. It never occurred to the guy that a non accountant would know that info. Because he had done well in his job the company gave him two semesters to take the six hours he lacked for a degree. He enrolled and failed both classes so was terminated.

As to Carla the con. Wherever she is I would bet big money she ain't what she says she is, she was memorabilia all by herself :)
Comment by Gordon Basichis on May 20, 2012 at 6:34pm

On our corporate research, corporate investigative side of things, on behalf of a client we are looking into a supplier who doesn't appear to exist.   The supplier advertises, and the principal makes claims that he is well networked in his industrial sector, only no information is available and any attempt at contact by our credit researcher leads to that formidable but familiar black hole.   

We had another character who claimed executive status in a major import/export concern.  Only problem was that the concern had been out of business, oh...about five years or so before he claimed to work there.  Our client actually drove by the building, to find it vacant in the form of heartwarming Northeastern industrial blight.   The character provided me with two references and one employment verification.  One reference was him, posing as someone else, and the verification was yet him again, posing as a another person.  Three persons in one brain, how remarkably compact and, ultimately, obvious.  Bottom line, ohhh...big surprise here...he didn't get the job.  I received hate mail for the guy for a good six months before he finally gave it up.  


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