Career Advice

4 Resume Lessons Learned From The Yahoo! CEO Scandal

Businessman using laptop in coffee area in office, London, UK

Hired in January, ousted in May. Scott Thompson’s short term as Yahoo!’s CEO ended with his resignation after an untruth was unveiled from his embellished resume.

A Yahoo! activist investor exposed Thompson when the computer science degree listed on his resume proved to be nonexistent. This damaging lie has cost Thompson his job and, to some, his integrity for life.

Resume “padding” is far from uncommon. According to recent research conducted by, eight percent of Americans admitted to embellishing or over-exaggerating information on their resume. Additionally, 27 percent reportedly lost their jobs when their lies were later discovered. In the midst of a highly scrutinized resume scandal, let’s take note of ways to avoid the unfortunate consequences embellishers face:

1. Don’t lie

If this publicized embarrassment teaches job seekers anything, it should be the obvious. HR managers, especially those from a company with a large HR department, have the resources and tools to verify each bullet point on your resume. HR professionals have the ability to run background checks and contact your past employers to confirm your previous responsibilities and start/end dates. Also, expect a Google search of your name and a scroll through of your Twitter and Facebook pages to see if your online presence and resume match up.

2. Know the difference

The job search is competitive; there is no doubt about it. In a market in which hundreds of applicants are longing for the same position, it is absolutely vital to stand out. Setting yourself apart from the competition can be done in two ways: specializing your resume or the alternative of adding a bold-faced lie. Specializing involves elaborating on your past experiences and describing how they have provided you with the skills to succeed in your next desired job. Tailoring your resume to the position you are applying for is strategic; lying will get you into trouble.

3. The greater your spotlight, the larger the lie

It is important to always be mindful of your role and the influence you have on others. We all want to be successful, but the longevity of your success is dependent on your reputation. If you are applying for an executive level position, it is crucial to have all of your credentials up to date and valid. Scott Thompson’s false credential was exposed as he held the position of a Fortune 500 CEO. The likelihood of Thompson holding another leadership role is not very promising.

4. Take action

If you feel as though your resume needs a boost or is lacking certain qualifications, there is only one answer – do something about it. It is never too late to refine your skills and expand your knowledge. You can find free webinars and online events all over the Internet to enhance your worth. Enroll in a few classes, if you see fit. If you need to add some dimension to your resume, volunteering is always an option as well. Remember, your options are endless when it comes to gaining experience. If your resume is not getting you the interview, find an honest way to spruce it up.

In the famous words of Mark Twain, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Your resume is all about you and your qualifications. Stay true to yourself and your future employers and you will avoid the humiliation of falsehood.

How do you draw the line between elaborating and lying on a resume? Share your thoughts below.