Liar Liar

Pittsburg, KS High School principal Amy Robertson was fired after journalists at the student newspaper discovered her credentials were bogus. Their work was picked up by many major news outlets including Fox, CBS, NBC, LA Time, the Chicago Tribune. The list went on. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of views in social media.

Needless to say, this was a major black eye to the district and a national embarrassment for Ms. Robertson. The district claimed that the competitive nature of hiring school administrators caused them to miss a few check-marks on the background.

No kidding.

As much as I’d love to say this is an isolated incident, it’s much more common than you may think. There’s plenty of other examples of public figures getting caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

Scott Thompson, then CEO of Yahoo!, claimed to hold a degree in Computer Science when in reality his degree was in Accounting forcing him to resign.

Marilee Jones worked at MIT for nearly twenty years, becoming their Dean of Admissions before resigning after being caught lying about her academic credentials.

George O’Leary was hired to coach Notre Dame football after falsely claiming to have a Masters Degree. He doubled-down by claiming to have played football despite never being on a college football roster. Notre Dame fired him.

Even celebrity chef Robert Irvine was fired from Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” after it was discovered that his claim to have designed the wedding cake for Princess Diana & Prince Charles was false. He simply picked out the fruit used on the cake.

This tactic isn’t just for the rich & famous. Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve run across:

Bogus Credentials. Any employer worth their salt verifies credentials. I will find out that you were not honest about your degree. I will also verify any relevant certifications you claim to hold. You would be shocked at how many times I’ve caught someone red-handed misrepresenting their credentials. If you attended college but don’t have a degree “coursework toward a Bachelor of Science” is truthful, “Bachelor of Science” is lying. Feel free to reach out to these guys to do the lying for you.

Diploma Mills. The former High School principal claimed to have degrees from unaccredited schools. Many of these “schools” will issue a “degree” when your check clears the bank. If I have any questions about a college I just plug it into this site.

Mis-matched resumes. Years ago when paper ruled this was tough to catch. Today I have resumes from 15 years ago. Just this week I caught a person who did an assignment for us in another office send me a resume with different employers, different dates, with a degree from different schools. Turns out this person was released for cause after only a few months on the job.

Mis-matched people. There’s a disturbing tactic used by a handful of disreputable staffing & solutions agencies when it’s necessary to hire someone without meeting them first. Send a completely bogus resume, have someone that knows their stuff go through the interview process, and then send someone else to work. It’s becoming common enough that there’s a Twitter feed dedicated to outing people.

If you misrepresent your credentials eventually it’s going to catch up to you.

Marilee Jones initially applied for an entry level position at M.I.T. and rather than come clean, she continued the charade as she moved up the ladder. Her resignation letter read in part “I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to M.I.T. 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my résumé when I applied for my current job or at any time since, I am deeply sorry for this and for disappointing so many in the M.I.T. community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities.”

I’m sure in hindsight she wishes she would have mustered the courage. She felt painted into a corner with no out. However, there is an out and it starts with courage. You have to muster the courage to come clean. With the right attitude and outlook lying about your background is not the end of the world.

Marilee spent nearly twenty years handling admissions at one of the most prestigious schools in the world. She knows a thing or two about what it takes to get a letter of acceptance and has parlayed that knowledge into a private consulting practice.

Despite not having a Masters Degree or experience as a player, it turns out George O’Leary is a pretty damn good football coach. He continued to coach in both the NFL and at the University of South Florida where he was head coach for over a decade.

Scott Thompson spent four years as the CEO of an online shopping company before leaving last fall to take the CEO chair of a company that provides a student loan management platform that allows employers to help employees pay off their student loans.

Robert Irvine was re-hired by Food Network to host Dinner: Impossible, launched a spin-off called Restaurant: Impossible and is a regular guest on their Iron Chef series. He has used his celebrity to launch the Robert Irvine Foundation which honors the men and women of the US Military. In the Spring of last year he was awarded the U.S. Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award.

We all make mistakes & do things we regret. Have the courage to come clean, make amends, and use your God-given abilities to do great things.



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