7 Real-Life Resume Blunders that Cost Careers

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Did you know that 75% of HR professionals have caught a lie on a resume (per CareerBuilder survey)? Surprisingly, it’s hardly just entry level applicants who do this. Even public officials, from candidates for office to coaches to CEOs have knowingly fabricated their qualifications. Here are seven public officials who were caught in the act with false records.

1. Mel Jurado, Temple Terrace Mayor

Mel Jurado, the mayor of Temple Terrace in Florida, was just caught with a PH.D from LaSalle University (the LaSalle located in LA. vs. PA.), a notorious diploma mill that was shut down by the FBI just a few months after Jurado got her diploma, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Although Jurado technically had a degree, she often didn’t list where it came from on her resumes. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the only time she listed “LaSalle University” in a job application, she didn’t get the job.

2. Marilee Jones, MIT Dean of Admissions

In 2007, Marilee Jones, the former Dean of Admissions at MIT stepped down from her role after nearly thirty years at the university. According to CNN, Jones lied on her resume about her education when applying for her first job at MIT -- she never received any of the degrees she listed. She said she didn’t have the courage to correct her original lies.

3. George O'Leary, Football Coach

In 2001, just five days after becoming the football coach for Notre Dame, George O’Leary resigned. According to the New York Times, he lied about his academic accomplishments, falsely claiming to have a master’s degree from New York University. In addition, he claimed that he was on the football team at the University of New Hampshire. However, The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, couldn’t find anyone who remembered playing on the team with him.

4. Kenneth Lonchar, Veritas Chief Financial Officer

According to Market Watch, stocks at Veritas dropped nearly 20 percent after its Chief Financial Officer, Kenneth Lonchar, resigned after admitting that he lied about having an MBA from Stanford. He had been working as a CFO for 14 years.

5. Sandra Baldwin, President and Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee

In 2002, just after the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Sandra Baldwin resigned after a University of Colorado student writing for an alumni publication discovered that Baldwin lied about her education, according to The New York Times. She said she received her bachelor’s at the University of Colorado, but she never completed her degree. Then, she said she got a doctorate degree at Arizona State, but it was actually a bachelor’s degree.

6. Scott Thompson, Yahoo CEO

In 2012, Scott Thompson was fired after Yahoo discovered that he lied about his education. He claimed that he studied accounting and computer science at Stonehill College, but he actually only studied accounting. According to CNN, Thompson’s lie created particularly large issues for Yahoo, because it listed Thomson’s fake computer science degree in its annual report to the SEC. CEOs are legally required to certify that their SEC filings are accurate.

7. Michael Brown, Head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Unlike the above mishaps, this captures a misrepresentation of employment, vs. education. In 2005, while FEMA was being criticized for its reaction to Hurricane Katrina, its director, Michael Brown, also came under fire. Before working for FEMA, he listed that he was an “assistant city manager” in Oklahoma. However, he was actually “assistant to the city manager” in that role, according to Time. ​ He also listed on his FindLaw profile that he received an “Outstanding Political Science Professor” award at Central State University, yet he was never a professor there. Last, he said that he had been the director of the Oklahoma Christian Home. The staff at FEMA said he was actually on the Board of Directors. However, the Home said that was also false, again according to Time.

These public officials serve as painful reminders for recruiters and employees. Employees should know that one lie on one resume can ruin a career. And recruiters should know that failure to properly conduct background checks can lead to painful consequences. For peace of mind, recruiters should use a credible background screening company for all new employees, no matter the position.

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