Former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson made headlines recently when it was discovered that he lied on his resume, adding himself to the list of executives who make it to the top of their trades, only to put ousted for false credentials. Most often, we hear about male executives, politicians, and even television personalities who lie on resumes and application documents. But top female executives have also been found guilty of resume fraud. Here are three examples of high-level professional woman caught lying on their resumes.
The Dean of Admissions who never graduated from college. When you work for one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the world, it might be assumed that you, yourself, have a college degree. In the case of Marilee Jones, former Dean of Admissions for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Jones actually listed both a bachelor’s AND master’s degrees on her resume despite never having earned either. Jones was let go from MIT after a 28-year career because of her falsified resume. Said Jones, “I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to M.I.T. 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my résumé when I applied for my current job or at any time since.”
Falsifying grades results in university firings. Heather Bresch was awarded a Executive Masters in Business Administration from West Virginia University, but only completed less than half the required credits. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, when the situation was investigated, the investigative panel found that Bresch, daughter of former West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin had not earned the MBA awarded to her by WVU, and that her records were falsified by top administrators at the school.
An uproar of disapproval ensued and both the university president Mike Garrison, and the provost resigned. In her defense, Bresch has said, "The administration allowed me to take an unconventional approach as part of what was then a program in its infancy" and she has continued her 16-year career with Mylan and is now CEO, making just over $3 million a year.
Minor difference leads to a major sacking. When Alison Ryan was hired as the Communications Manager for the soccer team Manchester United in the U.K., she claimed to have received her undergraduate degree with first honors from Cambridge University, which is usually awarded to the top 10 percent of a class. The reality, which was exposed during an interview with the club’s owner and the chief executive, was that Ryan received a second class degree and had also been banned from practicing law after being found guilty of professional misconduct on eight charges.
The catch is that Ryan didn’t actually lie on her application to Manchester United, but she had lied about her degree in the past, and that’s what got her fired before she even began the job. Said Ryan, “My biggest regret was to put on my CV that I had a first class honours degree instead of a second class honours degree from Cambridge University.”
In most cases of resume fraud, the job applicant is young, self-conscious, and nervously trying to make up for what they perceive to be a lack in credentials. Unfortunately, once you start lying on your resume, it can be incredibly hard to stop, as demonstrated by Jones who had a successful 28-year career after lying very early-on in her job search. If you ever consider writing something untrue on your resume, consider both the ethical and personal implications of such a move. The stress of maintaining a lie, even a small one, is never-ending. As Mark Twain famously noted, if you always tell the truth, then you never have to remember what you’ve said.