Scott Thompson, CEO of Yahoo! is in a bit of a pickle. It turns out that he allegedly embellished his resume to reflect that he had a degree in computer science. Makes sense for a man charged with running a once-leading Internet company.

Except that Thompson doesn’t actually have a computer science degree. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration (Accounting). The discrepancy has been explained as an “inadvertent error.”

There has been some fallout already. Thompson’s employment is under review and Patti Hart, the Yahoo director in charge of the vetting process will not be standing for election to the board, aka, has been asked to leave.

Why Thompson allegedly made the change to his resume is currently not known but he’s not the only one.  He just became the latest in a long line of people who lie on their resume only to be caught and splashed over the media.

People exaggerate on their resume. One commenter said on a recent article, “People do the same thing on resumes – if you fixed your printer in the office, you could potentially put that down as ‘increased team productivity by troubleshooting and fixing communication issues.”

Which is true but there’s a difference between exaggerating your ability to fix the office printer and lying about your educational experience and not expecting to be found out during a background check.

Those checks don’t always find everything but despite being told that Human Resources will check your academic credentials, it doesn’t happen as often as you think.

“It’s because it is one of the few qualifications on a resume that can actually be verified, we assume no one would have the guts to falsify it,” says Human Resources expert Sarah Paul.

Should education be checked? Definitely for positions where a degree or diploma is the minimum price of admission such as lawyers, accountants, engineers and doctors,” says Paul.  If someone is caught out, the immediate answer is not always so clear.

The company would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. If they lied and said that they got the degree when they were one course short is quite a bit different than claiming to have graduated from a school they never stepped foot in. If the person is in a senior position within the company, then the issue of credibility and ethics alone, would likely warrant termination. “

So what’s going to happen to Thompson? Nothing yet but the Yahoo! board has formed a committee to investigate his educational background.  We can assume that Thompson will be asked to explain his rationale, look at any benefits he might benefits he might have brought to the company then make a decision.

While that is going on, Yahoo is going to have to manage the optics. A CEO caught out in this situation doesn’t engender trust in with a company’s employees or shareholders. Especially after the very public flameout of the last top Yahoo!.

The social media website Mashable has created an infographic illustrating Yahoo’s “fall from grace.”

What do you think Yahoo! should do with Thompson?


See also, The Most Common Lies on a Resume (and What HR Actually Checks.)