woman reviewing her resume

For years I have heard about people who have lied on their resumes and been caught. Now I have the names of some of them. One way to torch your career is to lie on your résumé. We’ve seen the careers of high-profile professionals burst into flames by misrepresenting their educational accomplishments. When their mistruths were exposed, some were fired, some resigned, some lost promotions, or had to repay or sit-out bonuses. Their short-term gain (a job or promotion) was torched by a company’s long-term interest (credibility). Let’s take a look at a few:

people at a job interview with resume

2007, MIT Dean of Admissions, Marilee Jones, resigned when a 28-year-old résumé misrepresentation surfaced. She did not have undergraduate or graduate degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or Albany Medical College. In fact, she held no college degree.

2012, an activist shareholder group shared Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s augmented résumé, the content of which was shared in the company’s annual report, a legal document that CEOs certify as truthful. Scott’s tenure lasted four months when it was discovered he could not count – he did not have TWO degrees, computer science and accounting, from Stonehill College, he had ONE in accounting.

2014, while assessing Walmart Senior VP Communications David Tovar for a promotion, a third party uncovered a degree misstatement on his résumé. David “walked” at the University of Delaware’s 1996 commencement shy credits for an art degree. After an eight-year tenure with Walmart, he was found out and stepped down. The next year, in 2015, he returned to the University and finished his BA, and has gone on to work for Sprint, McDonald’s, and GrubHub.

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. MGM Mirage’s CEO, J. Terrence Lanni, quickly retired in 2008 yet remained on the Board of Directors when questions about his résumé surfaced, finding he did not have an earned or honorary MBA in finance from USC.

In 2002, the US Olympic Committee President, Sandra Baldwin, learned a Ph.D. requires a completed dissertation, ABD doesn’t cut it. She resigned. Stories of similar falsehoods continue with David Edmondson, CEO of RadioShack (2006), who did not earn one, and certainly not two, degrees from Pacific Coast Baptist College as his résumé stated; and Bryan Mitchell, MCG Capital (2002), who did not hold a degree from Syracuse University. When résumé errors come to light, professionals have quickly stepped down, repaid or forfeited a sizeable bonus, had severance packages cut, and/or been terminated.

Academic degree misrepresentation has torched careers, as have misstatements like athletic record misrepresentation of letterman awards (Notre Dame Coach O’Leary, 2001); being a Stanford University Rhodes Scholarship finalist (Yale Coach Tom Williams, 2011); or playing basketball at UW-Green Bay (Villanova Coach Doug Martin, 2012).

Checkster Research in 2020 found that 78% of job applicants lie about skills, GPA, title, degree, university name, and/or achievements, while HireRight (2017) found that 85% of employers caught lies. As a resume writer, I help my clients avoid misstatements and realize there is not need to or reason to lie on their resumes.

Applying for Online Job Opportunities

Be careful when applying for a job via LinkedIn, Indeed, or any other online job posting site. Scammers are there, too. They are taking advantage of the influx of remote jobs by pretending to be big tech companies and hustling interviewees out of personal information, including their bank accounts. It is a red flag If they use the Wire app. As one victim said: “just be aware and be vigilant, kind of know that if a job is asking for you to do too much during the interview process, it’s probably not good” she said.

Adapted from Entrepreneur.com


Many people feel that from now until January 1 is a bad time to look for a job. I have very successful clients who will not look for a job at any other time of the year.