CVS / MAR. 28, 2015
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Famous CV Fibs and What We Can Learn from Them


Lying on your CV is not a good plan – in all likelihood, you will get found out, damaging trust and potentially costing your career. If you need any convincing on this point, then simply scan the list below of some famous CV fibs that went wrong.

See also: How Résumé Lies Can Cost You a Dream Job – Infographic

Qualification Inflation

Some famous CV lies, which have landed their writers in both the press and hot water, are related to qualification fraud. Bumping up your grades on your CV might seem like a harmless white lie but is actually fraudulent, and could leave you without a job. Some high profile people to discover this fact include Marilee Jones, who was a dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and claimed to have not only a bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s to qualify her for the post. The fact that she had neither qualification went unnoticed for 28 years, before the revelation cost her her position.

A second high profile casualty through CV fraud was Yahoo!’s one time CEO Scott Thompson. Claiming he had a degree in computer science when he actually had a degree in accounting was what did it for Thompson – leading hedge fund shareholders of Yahoo! feeling that he could not be trusted.

The trust issue is perhaps the one that us mere mortals need to look out for – Thompson had been the president of PayPal, and might well have been an eminently good choice for the Yahoo! Role, but the breach of trust means that this was never tested, and ten days after his fake qualification was revealed he was ousted.

Geography Issues

Aside from fibbing about the level of qualification earned, other famous liars inflated the location of their alma mater. Jack Grubman was a Wall Street analyst, pulling in some $20 million annually. He claimed to have attended MIT, when he in fact attended Boston University; not unlike another case including Jeffrey Papows, an IBM president, who claimed to have a PhD from Pepperdine University when it was in fact from an unaccredited institution.

As more qualification issuing authorities move to digital ’badges’ to show achievements rather than the more difficult to track paper system, such slips in geography may become less common, or even altogether impossible. The learning for the rest of us: simply don’t ’forget’ who issued your qualification; it’s not worth the risk.

The Outright Odd

And for all the cases of people being unmasked about having massaged their grades or claimed a higher standing at uni than they should have, there are also those whose CV lies are just a little on the odd side. Take Robert Irvine – once a celebrity chef who claimed to have made the wedding cake for the UK royal wedding in 1981 between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, but who – apparently – only selected the fruit for said cake. Perhaps the lesson here is that massaging an already robust CV is not only needless, it is dangerous!

Or a head coach at Notre Dame, who got the position based on having been a legend on the football field – despite the fact he had never actually played a game. George O’Leary stuck around five days in that job, although he later moved on to other coaching positions, again showing that the inflated CV was probably an unnecessary move.

See also: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Lie on Your CV

As with most things, there are no original CV fibs. Someone has been there before and the Internet is full of lessons to learn from others’ mistakes! Don’t take the risk with lying on your CV; it has the potential to cost you your job, your career, and your reputation to boot!

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