how stupid it is to lie on their resume. People who otherwise must seem smart to some people somewhere to achieve a certain level of success find it necessary to fudge their credentials. Now it’s the CEO of RadioShack (or should I say former CEO?), David Edmondson.
Personal ethics are subjective, however, I suspect that the question on the minds of those that do is whether they are going to get away with it. Unfortunately, once the lying starts, it’s hard to make it stop. Ask George O’Leary. I imagine the public mea culpas are tough.
Here’s the thing, when you achieve a level of public notoriety through success, your resume will be scrutinized as a public document. It’s the one document that people use to understand who you are, where you came from and what you have done. People may decide to check it out because they want to take you down, or they may simply be checking references for a future opportunity. They might notice that something you have done or said doesn’t match with what your resume details. They may be media looking for a story. If they find a lie, it really won’t matter why they were looking, just that the information is false. And years of hard work can be disregarded. I’m no expert on personal ethics (my degree is in business administration) but I just think that if people want to explore the boundaries of what they can get away with (based on their own personal code), they definitely should not be doing that on their resume. The risk outweighs the potential reward. The more you get rewarded, the higher the risk.
It seems that for the public people that have been affected by inaccurate resume scandals, many (if not all) have explained that once they lied early in their careers, they couldn’t go back and correct it. The “I thought I had that degree” defense has a hollow ring. We should all know what degrees we have. And in your starting-out years, when great success seems far-off, and you feel like you need a jump start, try hard work. I wonder how many people that have lied on their resumes (70% by some reports though that sounds really high to me) found that it actually benefited them. Did David Edmondson feel that his faux Theology degree *got* him his jobs, that he wouldn’t have been considered without it?
We do background checks here. That policy post-dates my experience as a line recruiter here but I think that reviewing your resume for clarity and accuracy is something people should do regardless of where they are applying. Facts like dates of employment, titles and college degrees are very easy to check. I’d also recommend ensuring that the descriptions of your work are accurate in someone’s opinion besides your own (word choice is a tricky thing). My last few companies, I’ve asked my manager to review my resume for accuracy (“is this what you believe I actually did?”) so my job descriptions weren’t tinted by my own perception (sometimes you have that relationship with your manager, sometimes you don’t, but I’d recommend checking it with someone and/or the description of the position you were hired into and/or your performance reviews). The person checking your references might actually read your resume back to the listed reference, so it’s great to get buy-in if you can.
I think that most of all, these scandals make me sad. Sad that people felt they needed something extra to compete and made bad decisions (probably at a young age…still so much to learn) about what that something extra is. I don’t doubt that these folks have done some hard work in their careers and all of that is discounted because of a decision made years ago.
I can’t tell people what is personally ethical or unethical (for the same reason that the word “evil” irks me…who decides?). But seeing a few of these resume scandals should, at the very least, be a warning that it’s just not worth it.