Last week I discussed the importance of employment screening in mitigating corporate risk exposure. A recent news item involving Internet giant Yahoo serves to highlight the fact that even large companies with deep pockets and vast resources can fall prey to resume fraud if they are not diligent in their screening processes.
Yahoo announced yesterday that CEO Scott Thompson had resigned amid controversy surrounding his academic credentials. A mere two months into his tenure with the company, it was discovered that Thompson does not hold the computer science degree that's been listed in numerous biographies and securities filings.
Surprisingly, Thompson is not the only high-profile executive to have been caught in this type of scandal. RadioShack CEO David Edmondson resigned in 2006 after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram discovered that he hadn't earned the two degrees he claimed. And Kenneth Lonchar, CFO of Veritas Software, resigned in 2002 after the company found out he didn't hold the MBA listed on his CV.
According to statistics, resume fraud is not uncommon. Further, it seems to be quite easy to get away with it. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, just under half of companies check to see if job applicants have the degrees they claim to hold. An even smaller percentage verifies that job-seekers actually went to the schools they say they attended.
The problem lies not in the fact that obtaining this information is difficult—we live in an age of unprecedented connectivity. The simple truth is that the majority of businesses lack a comprehensive employment screening process, which allows such exaggerations and fabrications to go undetected.
As the Yahoo scandal shows, failure to vet new hires can result in tremendous embarrassment and damage to both a company’s brand and bottom line. Regardless of size, every organization should screen its candidates thoroughly, with best practices pointing to partnership with a reputable employment screening agency. By trusting your verification processes to professionals, you will increase the quality of your employees and management pool, and decrease potential resume fraud and its far-reaching consequences.