Fri, May 18th, 2012 - 5:22 am - By Gordon Basichis
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Fish got to swim, and birds got to fly. And some employment candidates have to lie. About their education, mainly. Given the competitive job market, small wonder some will…ahem…stretch the truth in order to gain leverage when looking for a job. It’s understandable. It’s also pretty stupid.
Today,with most employers conducting education verification background checks as part of their employment screening programs, most likely the fictitious claim about having graduated or having obtained a graduate degree is bound to be discovered. And by making these claims, you, the job applicant have with most employers nullified your chances of being considered for employment. These days no self-respecting employer will merely take you at your word, or allow your protestations to sway them from looking further into your degree.
As a background checking service, when the degree claim cannot be verified, and when the candidate protests that who are we going to believe the candidate or the lying register, we ask for a copy of the diploma and/or the transcripts. Some of the more enterprising or desperate employment candidates create bogus diplomas with Photo Shop or whatever. Some will use an associate’s diploma as a template, remove the associate’s name and replace it with their own. In case, the enterprising soul listed his graduation date as 1988. Unfortunately for him, the university president that was listed on the diploma did not take office until 1995. Whoops.
Why do I bring this up? Well, we have the current case of Scott Thompson, now recent head of Yahoo. Thompson allegedly claimed a computer science degree on his resume–one he did not actually have. Yahoo has acknowledged that Thompson does not have a computer science degree. According to an article in the BBC, “activist, shareholder Daniel Loeb, discovered Thompson’s mistake.
Now this was a high profile executive who, let us say, stretched the reality on his CV. A man in the news, a man under scrutiny. Yet, here we be with a bogus claim on a college degree. Anymore, than we have candidates who claim graduation when they only attended that college or university. And some didn’t attend at all. How they decided to pick that particular school is often a question of interest. Did they pick a small, liberal arts college that they figured was so obscure no one would be conducting education verification? Or when they select a large university are they thinking they may get lost in the crowd?
Bear in mind that four Yahoo executives approved hiring Scott Thompson. And, not so coincidentally, the same four will be leaving their posts. Why they didn’t conduct the necessary background checks is a question for the ages. Or was Thompson such a high profile candidate they simply took him at his word. We recently had a recruiter take the candidate at his word, initially. The employer even flew the candidate overseas for the first interview. And then the fictitious profile started to unravel, beginning with false claims about an MBA that was apparently thrown in with the other verifiable degrees for good measure. There were other factors, or, rather, other lies in that instance, including past employment. Needless to say, the whole affair proved embarrassing to the recruiter.
So we know why job applicants lie about their education. And we figure for the most part they realize they may be caught in that lie. So are they that desperate to find work, or as with Thompson is there another motivating force. Thompson probably didn’t need a computer science degree in order to become President of Yahoo. His career was going along just fine. So then, here we are….
The moral of the story–if you lie about having a college degree or a post graduate degree, chances are the background check will show otherwise. Chances are you will be caught. At which point, with most employers, you will be dropped from consideration for employment. Not because you didn’t have a degree, necessarily. But because you lied. As employers tell me, if they lied about their education then what else would they lie about?