Sunday, January 11, 2009


One of the most responded-to of the informal polls on my column's blog also resulted in one of the most lopsided tallies: Of the readers who responded, a hefty 95 percent believed that an executive who is discovered to have listed false academic credentials on his or her resume should be fired.

"Why would a company want dishonest people working for them?" one reader asks. If an executive lies on a resume, he adds, "why would you trust this same person with confidential company information?"

Marguerite Rathbone of California absolutely agrees.

"An executive should be fired, not allowed just to resign, if they gave any false information on a resume," Rathbone says. "If they lied on something so easily verified, what else would they lie about?"

Bill Chase of Mission Viejo, Calif., would terminate any employee after verifying that false claims had been made on his or her resume. He'd go further, though, and, if called for a reference, would tell prospective future employers of the reason for termination.

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fire the Liar, I suppose is the "correct" answer, but this subject should open up the discussion of why CREDENTIALS are important in the first place.

Employers of all kinds should seriously consider what credentials, if any, are really necessary for the job. Very likely, the "liar" lied because the employer wanted "credentials." So the applicant gave some.

A few short years ago, Notre Dame University hired an NFL coach who had a great winning record in the NFL. But the university mgmt discovered the coach "lied" about his college degree, so they fired him before he could prove his worth. He promptly returned to the NFL and got a good high paying job as an assistant coach, because he already had a record of achievement. Now Notre Dame has the properly credentialed coach, but he can't WIN GAMES. Oops. The NFL only cares about winning games, academic credentials are irrelevant for some jobs.

Employers who love credentials are really just looking to abandon responsibility for their own personal judgment. Or they are basically bureaucrats and not real "business" people at all.

Hiring people is a definite SKILL. Matching people and talents with the needs of the company takes much subjective judgment. Unfortunately, most employers are NOT skilled at hiring people so they rely on resumes. In big companies, Human Resource people are among the lowest calibre. The best advice is to give every new-hire a 3-6 month trial period, and forget the "credentials." Let performance on the job be the deciding factor.