News | December 29, 1998

Corporate Perjury: One-Third Of Top Executives Lie On Resumes

The President being impeached on perjury charges makes you wonder: "What about the corporate world? Do executives lie? How widespread is it? Do they get caught?"

According to Richard Taylor, a Stamford, CT-based executive recruiter, roughly a third of candidates looking for executive positions in technology—jobs with compensation of $150,000 and up—tell blatant lies on their resumes. They lie about previous jobs. They lie about schools. They lie about degrees, about responsibilities and more.

"Ironically, if their cover story works, these executives may find high-level jobs where integrity and honesty is critical to a company's survival and growth—and how do they manage for the good of their company and community?'' Taylor says.

Taylor, managing partner of Taylor/Rodgers & Associates, a search firm specializing in placing executives who, as he describes it, "know how to leverage technology for business growth," draws from his own personal experience, not a formal poll or survey. But his experience leads him to offer some practical advice for job seekers and employers.

Candidates should think twice before stretching the truth, he says. At the same time, employers should avoid being victimized by inadequately checking resumes. Skilled recruitment professionals, using technology including the Internet, can catch the lies by gaining access to credit ratings, educational information, criminal records and other key sources.

Candidates should be very cautious about including false information on their resumes believing their personnel records no longer exist since their former company has been merged out of business or filed for bankruptcy. "Wrong," says Taylor. Critical information gleaned from the Internet and skillful questioning of co-workers and former bosses, also reveal facts that trip up candidates. Besides work-related facts, recruiters can ferret out such factors as substance abuse and outstanding litigation.

In the atmosphere that now exists, particularly after the unprecedented focus on perjury and lying in the impeachment hearings, employers should be more steadfast than ever in taking steps to assure that the history a manager lists on his or her resume is true, Taylor points out.

"Executives who have situations they are not proud of, or would like to hide, are better off listing them when necessary, or leaving the information out if they have the option," he explains. Once in an interview, the applicant stands a better chance by putting everything on the table and offering references who can substantiate his viewpoint, such as the conditions that caused him to lose his job, he says.