Infamous Resume Lies

CareerBuilder.com writer

OK, while it's not quite a "crime" (more like a misdemeanor), resume lies -- and those who tell them -- don't fare well in the working world. Yet somehow, these seemingly harmless untruths are still making their way onto paper and into the hands of future employers.

Although just five percent of workers admitted to fibbing on their resume, 57 percent of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a candidate's application, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com. Ninety-three percent of those who spotted the lie did not hire the candidate because of it.


Common lies

Here are the top nine ways people fib on their resumes, according to Forbes.com:

  • Lying about getting a degree
  • Exaggerating numbers
  • Increasing previous salary
  • Playing with dates
  • Inflating titles
  • Lying about technical abilities
  • Claiming language Fluency
  • Providing a fake address
  • Padding grade point averages


Take a look at the following infamous resume lies from some of the working world's finest (or so we thought...) and what happened as a result of their resume-padding.


No. 1: Ronald Zarrella, Bausch & Lomb chief executive officer

Misdemeanor: Zarrella falsely claimed an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. He attended the program from 1972-76, but never earned his MBA. His claim was never checked by his prior employers.

Punishment: He was forced to forfeit $1.1 million dollars from a bonus that could've potentially reached $1.65 million. Zarrella remained employed with Bausch & Lomb, who said he brought too much value to the company and it shareholders to fire him completely.


No. 2: George O'Leary, ex-Notre Dame football coach

Misdemeanor: In 2001, O'Leary divulged his lies about his academic and athletic backgrounds. He claimed to have a master's degree in education from New York University and to have played college football and earned three letters while doing so. Contrarily, O'Leary was a student at NYU but did not earn a degree, and while he played football, he never earned a letter, let alone played in a game.

Punishment: Five days after he was hired, O'Leary resigned. "Many years ago, as a young married father, I sought to pursue my dream as a football coach," he said in a statement. "In seeking employment, I prepared a resume that contained inaccuracies regarding my completion of course work for a master's degree and also my level of participation in football at my alma mater. These misstatements were never stricken from my resume or biographical sketch in later years."


No. 3: Marilee Jones, admissions dean for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Misdemeanor: Jones fudged her credentials, claiming to be a "scientist with degrees in biology from Rennselaar Polytechnic Institute and the Albany Medical College," and to have her doctorate. Jones said in a statement she "did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since."

Punishment: Jones resigned in April 2007 after officials learned of her fabrications. MIT's dean for undergraduate education said MIT couldn't "tolerate this kind of behavior."


No. 4: Kenneth Lonchar, chief financial officer of Veritas software

Misdemeanor: Lonchar fabricated his education, saying he earned an accounting degree from Arizona State University and was a Stanford MBA graduate -- in reality, all he had was an undergraduate degree from Idaho State University.

Punishment: Lonchar resigned and Veritas stock investors responded -- the company's stock price fell about 16 percent.


No. 5: Jeff Papows, chief executive officer of Lotus Corporation

Misdemeanor: In 1999, The Wall Street Journal discovered Papows exaggerated his military record (he was a lieutenant not a captain), feigned his education (he doesn't have a Ph.D. from Pepperdine University) and claimed he was an orphan (his parents are alive and well).

Punishment: Papows resigned after his exaggerations were exposed at the same time as a sexual discrimination allegation from a former Lotus employee against him. Papows is now the chairman and CEO of Maptuit Corporation.


No. 6: Dave Edmondson, chief executive of RadioShack

Misdemeanor: Edmondson falsified his resume by claiming to have a degree in psychology from Pacific Coast Baptist College in California (though the school doesn't offer a psychology program), along with a degree in theology from the same unaccredited college.

Punishment: Like the others, Edmondson admitted his false claims and resigned.

You get the picture. Your resume can and will be available to employers for the rest of your life, so don't lie, exaggerate or inflate its content.


Next: 5 Workplace Whoppers We All Tell >>


Copyright 2007 CareerBuilder.com.

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