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Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson resigned after being caught lying about his computer science degree on his resumé. Noah Berger / AP Photo
Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson resigned after being caught lying about his computer science degree on his resumé. Noah Berger / AP Photo

Small CV fibs can lead to big exits

Embellishing his CV may have cost Scott Thompson his job as Yahoo's chief executive. But he is not alone, because experts say exaggerating or inventing claims on CVs is more commonplace here in the UAE than elsewhere.

As far as CV embellishments go, it was not the biggest.

But claiming to have a different degree from the one Scott Thompson actually earned from his college in Massachusetts may have, in part, cost the former chief executive of Yahoo his job this month.

"A lot of people, when we catch them lying on CVs, they say 'look, a CV is just a sales document. It's not serious. It's just there to promote me'," said Toby Simpson, the managing director of The Gulf Recruitment Group.

"It's not," he added. "You are presenting an accurate record of your life … It should be viewed in exactly that way."

Mr Simpson suspects that the problem is more prevalent in the UAE than it might be elsewhere. Competition here was fierce for jobs and people often felt that they needed to embellish their CVs to get ahead.

"The temptation to cheat in a market like this is significant, and I think it happens across the board," said Mr Simpson.

Hiring firms such as Gulf Recruitment employ strict résumé-checking mechanisms, which have caught out senior executives who were asking for packages of more than US$1 million (Dh3.6m) and who had managed to fool much of the market.

CTPartners, an executive search firm, uses a five-point checking system designed to catch people with bogus credentials.

"It's very laborious, but you can see how important it is for reputational reasons," said Russell Adam, the managing partner of the Dubai Office of CTPartners.

Mr Adam expects many companies to tighten up their procedures in the wake of the Yahoo controversy, which has been nicknamed "résumégate".

No fact-checking mechanism was 100 per cent bulletproof, warned Mr Adam.

One mid-level executive slipped through the net recently at The Gulf Recruitment Group. "He was found out," said Mr Simpson. "Sadly we didn't pick up on the CV matching before, but I like to think we get most of it right," he added.

Companies hiring for the most senior positions may want to employ business intelligence consultants such as Kroll to check candidates' credentials, experts suggest.

Such companies scrutinise criminal cases in major countries and test academic qualifications, among other investigations.

"But it does come at a significant price - probably the same price that you pay the recruitment company," said Mr Simpson.


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