Resume-Padding Can Be Hard to Resist

Published on: Feb 8, 2013

Original article.

According to John Challenger, chief executive officer of the consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas — which advises out-of-work professionals seeking new employment—there’s no difference between high-level coaches and high-level corporate executives fibbing on their résumés. It’s quite common in both fields, because hyper-competitive people will do anything to jump-start their careers. And the college diploma is the cornerstone of a proper CV.

“Not getting a degree in today’s era can be perceived as so embarrassing,” says Challenger. “People feel that you can’t get to first base if you don’t have a degree. It leads them to do this. They decide to forge their résumés and then say, ‘Once I’m in the job, I can show them what I can do—but I just need the lie to get through these horrendous screens.’ We’ve seen it with CEOs, too.” One recent example includes Yahoo’s (YHOO) Scott Thompson, who falsely claimed to have a degree in computer science.

Challenger says that institutions don’t conduct rigorous background checks because they’re expensive. “The question is: How far do you go to find out if a college degree is valid or not? For most organizations, they just don’t do this,” he says. “It’s a question of cost. But as these kinds of incidents proliferate and present risk for the organizations, you’ll see them spend more money on it. We’re seeing it now because of the transparency and the crowdsourcing of information. Think about the fan who called out Tiger Woods on a rule violation during a recent televised tournament. Everybody’s watching. Years ago, you could cloak these things.”