Your résumé is a place to highlight your biggest accomplishments and showcase your most valued skills. It’s what hiring managers use to determine whether you’d be good at the job, and whether you’re worth meeting in person.
So, it’s no surprise that a majority of people lie on their résumés. A 2014 poll from CareerBuilder found that 58% of hiring managers caught applicants exaggerating or fudging details about previous roles, skills, or awards. And entry- or mid-level workers aren’t the only ones guilty of fibbing. Top execs have done it, too.
Here are 17 successful executives who were caught or admitted to fudging, exaggerating, or straight up lying on their résumés.
Vivian Giang and Jhaneel Lockhart contributed to an earlier version of this article.
In September 2014, David Tovar, the vice president of corporate communications for Wal-Mart, resigned from the company after it was discovered that he had not, in fact, received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Delaware, like his résumé stated, according to Bloomberg.
The New York Times reported that he didn't remember what he had put on his résumé. He said, 'I definitely didn't disclose that I didn't have a degree, and there were times where it was probably an error of omission.' He said he was a few credits shy of his degree, and had even participated in the graduation ceremony.
In May 2002, Sandra Baldwin, the first woman to be appointed the president and chairman of the US Olympic Committee, resigned after admitting she had put false information on her résumé, according to The New York Times.
She had stated on her résumé that she received her bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado in 1962, and her doctorate from Arizona State University in 1967.
She eventually admitted that she only attended the University of Colorado for three years, but received her bachelor's from Arizona State -- and that she never actually earned her doctoral degree because she didn't have time to finish the dissertation.
Baldwin came forth because a University of Colorado student interviewing her for an alumni publication intended to disclose the truth, according to The New York Times.
Decades ago, looking for an 'in' into Hollywood, David Geffen lied about attending and graduating from UCLA in order to obtain a mail room job at talent agency William Morris.
According to Fortune, Geffen soon became worried because he heard of someone else who had lied on their résumé -- and subsequently got fired.
So he went into the workplace early each day for six months, and waited for the university's letter to arrive, stating he had never attended.
When it finally arrived, he intercepted it and replaced it with another that stated he had indeed graduated.
Though Geffen didn't specify during the Fortune interview, he insinuated he learned a lot and left the agency on his own terms (without them discovering his CV fib).
He also added in the interview: 'Look, I'm not setting an example … But it's an idiotic thing that you have to be a college graduate to be an agent … Did I have a problem with lying to get the job? None whatsoever.'
David Edmondson joined RadioShack in 1994 and quickly advanced in the company until he became CEO in 2005.
A year after attaining his new title, the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reported that Edmondson had not earned bachelor's degrees in theology and psychology from Heartland Baptist Bible College as he had claimed. RadioShack's board of directors stood up for their new CEO, but Edmondson decided to resign. In his statement, he said:
'I clearly misstated my academic record, and the responsibility for these misstatements is mine alone. I understand that I cannot now document the (theology) diploma.'
In March 2002, Canadian businessman John Davy was appointed the CEO of the New Zealand television network, Maori Television Service.
He was fired less than seven weeks later when it was discovered that his résumé was almost entirely fabricated. For one, he claimed to hold an MBA from 'Denver State University' -- the New Zealand Herald investigated, only to find counterfeit credentials of the same university name and degree being sold online.
Secondly, he claimed to have worked with the British Columbia Securities Commission in 1986, who in turn found no records of him, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Two months after being sacked, Davy was sentence to be jailed for eight months, after pleading guilty to one charge of using a document -- his CV -- 'to obtain a benefit or privilege 'namely a senior appointment with the Maori Television Service,'' the New Zealand Herald reported.
The Times revealed that when Dunlap applied to Sunbeam, he had omitted two prior positions from his résumé that had ended poorly due to his performance.
Dunlap was fired from Sunbeam in 1998 and accused of accounting fraud. He denied any wrongdoing.
In late 2008, a board investigation revealed that James Peterson, CEO of Microsemi Corporation, had not received his bachelor's or master's degree from Brigham Young University, according to Bloomberg.
Microsemi decided to keep him as CEO, saying he was a valuable asset to the corporation.
He was asked to pay Microsemi $US100,000 and forgo the year's bonus.
Peterson is still CEO of Microsemi.
In November 2002, Bryan Mitchell, CEO and chairman of the financial services firm MCG Capital, resigned from his position as chairman after it was unearthed he had only attended Syracuse University for three years, despite his claim that he had graduated with a bachelor's degree, according to The New York Times.
He was still able to stay on board as CEO, but the company asked him to repay his 2001 and 2002 bonuses -- his 2001 bonus alone totaled $US350,000, according to the Times.
Mitchell is no longer CEO of MCG Capital -- he left in 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In February 2007, Manchester United fired Alison Ryan, its new head of public relations, before she even began the position, according to the Manchester Evening News.
While she didn't lie on her Manchester United application -- she did graduate with a law degree from Cambridge University like her CV stated -- she had previously lied on her résumé about earning a first-class honours degree instead of a second-class honours degree, and when Manchester United found out about her past, they were 'furious,' reported the Manchester Evening News.
In June 2007, Patrick Imbardelli, the head of Asia Pacific operations for Intercontinental Hotels Group, left with two months salary after an internal review of his educational background found he had embellished his résumé, according to Forbes.
On his CV, he claimed to have graduated from Victoria University in Australia with a bachelor of arts degree in business studies and hotel management, and a bachelor of science and MBA from Cornell University. Though he attended classes at both colleges, he never graduated, Forbes reported.
Though he said his resignation was for 'personal reasons,' it had just been discovered that he had not graduated from Imperial College with a PhD in physics like his résumé stated. Telstra had tried to look into his thesis, only to find it didn't exist since he had never attended the college.
Marilee Jones had been with MIT for 28 years before the university realised that she never received the undergraduate or master's degrees that she said she had on her résumé. In fact, Jones never received any college degrees, according to CNN.
In 2007, she resigned stating on the university's web site that she had 'misrepresented her academic degrees to the institute' and explained that she 'did not have the courage to correct (her) résumé when (she) applied for (her) current job or at any time since.'
She is now a college admissions consultant at the Berklee College of Music.
In November 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that the CEO and chairman of MGM Mirage, J. Terrence Lanni had not received an MBA from the University of Southern California (though he did receive a bachelor's degree).
Shortly after the questioning, Lanni stepped down as CEO for 'personal reasons.'
'I simply believe that change is inevitable and this is the right time for me to do this,' he said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
After 13 years with the company, he still remained a member of the board of directors. 'The company will always be indebted to Terry for his many years of leadership and wisdom,' said the MGM Mirage's majority shareholder, Kirk Kerkorian.
In 2008, Gregory Probert, CEO of Herbalife Ltd., resigned after it was discovered he never completed his MBA from California State University, Los Angeles, despite what his résumé claimed, according to Bloomberg. He said he was just shy of finishing the degree, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Probert was a former executive at Walt Disney, and was appointed CEO of the weight-loss supplement company in 2003.
'Greg made substantial contributions to Herbalife,'' CEO Michael Johnson said in a statement, according to Bloomberg News. 'The circumstances surrounding his resignation are disappointing.'
Ronald Zarrella had to give up his $US1 million bonus in 2002 when it was revealed that he never received his MBA from NYU like he claimed. He started the program but never finished it, according to The New York Post.
Bausch & Lomb -- a supplier of eye health products -- felt Zarrella was valuable to the company, and he was able to keep his job. He eventually left in 2008.
In 1999, it was revealed that Jeffrey Papows, president of IBM's software maker Lotus Development, fibbed about his academic and military background, according to ZDNet.
Jon Auerbach at ZDNet reported that Papows said he was a pilot when he was actually an air traffic controller, and said he was a captain when he was actually a first lieutenant in the Marines. ZDNet reported that Papows didn't get his PhD from Pepperdine, but rather from an unaccredited correspondence school.
His LinkedIn page says he's now CEO of Maptuit Corp. and Weblayers, Inc.
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