Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson resigns amid controversy over his resume

The spotlight has been brought to shine on the issue of executives lying in their resumes after allegations were levelled against Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson that he lied about his college degree. Research showed that in a series of published biographical statements going back some year, Scott Thompson claimed that he “holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science” from Stonehill College, Boston.

However, it has come to light that Scott Thompson only holds a Degree in accounting. Following the disclosure, Yahoo issued a statement saying references to Thompson earning a computer science Degree were an “inadvertent error.”  If so, it’s an error that Thompson made repeatedly forsome years without being called out on. Yahoo took action to quickly strip all references to Thompson’s degree out of his official bio on Yahoo’s website.

Yahoo’s board responded by forming a special three-person committee to review Thompson’s academic credentials “as well as the facts and circumstances related to the review and disclosure of those credentials” in connection with his appointment as chief executive of Yahoo. Days later, Thompson stepped down as part of a shakeup at the top of the troubled Internet company.

All this has seriously hurt the reputation of Yahoo and diverted the board from rebuilding the company. The brand has been damaged and morale within Yahoo has most certainly suffered. Had a modicum of Pre Employment Screening been applied, this error would have been spotted and rectified before it managed to topple the Yahoo CEO.

This most recent incident of resume padding by an executive underlines the importance of conducting full and robust pre employment screening for all significant hires within a corporation or organisation. At best, this has damaged Yahoo in the short term, but the threat for derailing a business due to unqualified personnel undertaking crucial tasks is self evident.

Government run Queensland Health in Australia managed to hire a surgeon from the USA who had already been reprimanded by USA health authorities and barred from certain surgeries.  Dr Patel was convicted by a Queensland Court of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in gaol for the deaths of patients under his care. Some basic pre employment checking could have avoided the deaths and millions of dollars lost due to compensation, inquires and legal costs. A very painful lesson to learn.

To reduce the threat of resume padding and false claims made by candidates, it is strongly advised that all organisations should utilise Pre Employment Screening procedures.

PES is the abbreviation commonly used for `Pre Employment Screening’. PES generally refers to the process whereby a prospective employer arranges for information relating to a potential candidate to be checked and verified to confirm the suitability of the candidate for employment or as a contractor.

PES provides an objective assessment as to the potential candidate’s capacity and capability to undertake the duties & responsibilities as per their experience and qualifications. The prospective employer has the ability to assess whether the candidate has fully disclosed their attributes and or any negative incidents such as a bankruptcy record or having being terminated by a previous employer. Any false claims by the candidate as to education qualifications, previous employment or experience will be exposed.

Resume padding is also known as résumé fraud. A recent survey found that over 55 percent of hiring managers claim that they have caught a lie on a candidate’s application. Ninety-three percent of those hiring managers who spotted the lie did not hire the candidate because of it.

The top five ways candidates lie on their résumés are as follows:

1.    Lying about getting an education qualification

2.    Falsely claiming membership of a professional association

3.    Altering dates of employment to cover up periods of unemployment

4.    Lying about technical abilities

5.    Inflating job titles and position responsibilities

Below are some of the résumé padding adventures of top executives:

Ronald Zarrella, Bausch & Lomb chief executive officer
Zarrella falsely claimed an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He attended the program from 1972 to 1976, but never earned his MBA. His claim was never checked by his prior employers.

Richard Li Tzar Kai [younger son of Li Ka Shing] and Chairman of  Pacific Century CyberWorks Ltd.
The Pacific Century CyberWorks website claimed that Li “graduated from Stanford University with a degree in computer engineering.” Li actually left after three years without graduating.

Kenneth Lonchar, chief financial officer of Veritas software
Lonchar invented his education, claiming he earned an accounting degree from Arizona State University and was a Stanford MBA graduate — in fact, he simply held an undergraduate degree from Idaho State University.

The fallout was Lonchar resigned and Veritas stock price fell about 16 percent.

Are you seeking assistance with Pre Employment Screening of employees or contractors? If so, we at Regents can help you – just visit our Pre Employment Screening Webpage for further information