Does your resume tell the truth?
(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Yahoo's (YHOO) latest CEO, Scott Thompson, is in trouble because his resume didn't quite manage to be entirely truthful. As such, he enters an inglorious group of CEOs who've inflated their academic achievements. Bausch & Lomb's CEO Ronald Zarella claimed to have an MBA but didn't. Veritas Software's CFO did likewise. And astonishingly, CEO of search firm A.T.Kearney - a firm that lives, breathes and checks out resumes - had to step down when alleged exaggerations of his education and work history surfaced.
So how perfect is your resume? Have you fudged a few years here or there to cover inconvenient gaps? Adjusted some of the timing so you don't look quite so old? Omitted a company or two that just didn't pan out? At the time, not one of these minor amendments feels like a disaster - and they may never prove to be.
But fudging the truth is a bad habit to get into. It may not cost you your job - Zarella's proferred resignation was refused - but it leaves you forever with a legacy of distrust. And everyone - from the CEO down - depends on trust to get their work done, to build relationships, to be credible. It always beggars belief when individuals can't remember their own history.
So why do they do it? Almost invariably because, for some reason, they believe that who and what they are on paper isn't good enough. And because they believe that what is on paper will prove decisive. To my mind, this is why they should be fired: Not just because they lied, but because their appreciation of where excellence comes from is so hideously stupid. At C-level, no one was ever hired because of their educational qualifications. What they've done, where and for whom is what counts. Anyone who thinks their academic education alone determines their qualification for leadership doesn't have the faintest idea what leadership is. Did Thompson really think that, having been president of PayPal, he'd fail to get the Yahoo post because of what he studied as an undergrad? Anyone that foolish shouldn't be employed anywhere.
One hallmark of an excellent resume is that it focuses on the skills and expertise that count. So don't fudge your resume: Proudly highlight the experiences and achievements that are relevant to the job. Make a coherent and honest narrative and don't try to be what you're not.
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