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Leave Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Alone!

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the statute-of-limitations dept.

Businesses 319

theodp writes "Over at The Daily Beast, Dan Lyons says Resumegate is overblown and says it's time to stop picking on Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson. Even without the circa-1979 CS degree some incorrectly thought he possessed, Lyons argues that Thompson is still perfectly capable, his critics have ulterior motives, and his competitors have all lied before. 'Forgive me for being less than shocked at the idea of a CEO lying,' writes Lyons. 'Steve Jobs [college dropout] used to lie all the time, and he's apparently the greatest CEO who ever lived. Google lied about taking money from Canadian pharmacies to run illegal drug ads, but finally had to come clean and pay $500 million in fines to settle the charges. Mark Zuckerberg [college dropout] last fall settled charges brought by the FTC that his company had made "unfair and deceptive" claims—I think that's like lying—and, what's more, had violated federal laws.' So what makes the fudging of a 30-year old accomplishment on the Yahoo CEO's resume a transgression that the 'highly ethical and honest folks in Silicon Valley' simply cannot bear? 'Facebook is a cool kid,' explains Lyons. 'So is Apple. Yahoo is the loser kid that nobody likes.'"

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319 comments

It's the hypocricy (5, Insightful)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907221)

The assumption is that an employee who lied on his resume would likely be fired, but a CEO is too important to fire.

Google (-1, Flamebait)

Kotakee (2632245) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907225)

Google has got where it is now because it has time and time again blatantly abused every law, copyright and moral thing that has got into their way. They are now the largest company on the internet. I guess lying and blatant abuse works.

hi bonch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907277)

Gotta get paid!

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907279)

Do you post anything other than anti google comments on slashdot? What are you, being paid to post what you write?

Re:Google (0)

Kotakee (2632245) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907303)

I post what interests me. How is that surprising?

Re:It's the hypocricy (0, Troll)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907255)

This is baffling, why does everyone assume that all people are equal and of equal worth under all possible circumstances? Yes, the CEO is far more important to the company than the sandwich guy.
This can either mean that a lying CEO can mess up the image of the company so it's imperative that he be sacked immediately or it can go completely the other way, i.e. he's the CEO, he can't just be fired over an irrelevant typicality.

Anyways, my point it that there's not a single drop of hypocrisy in this.

Re:It's the hypocricy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907351)

I may be an old fashioned relic but my word is my bond. It is important from a practical level I cannot do business with you if you are lying unless I mean to simply screw you over.

  I have no way of negotating with you in good faith. if I want repeat busness I cannot pursue a strategy of wringing ever last drop from a deal simply achieve what I need at a profitable arrangement for both parties. If you lie to me I cannot do this.

Re:It's the hypocricy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907463)

You're not an old-fashioned relic. You're a sucker. People who believe that other people are always telling the truth have always been suckers.

Re:It's the hypocricy (1)

BonThomme (239873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907609)

The suckers are the ones who don't fire him. (and the shareholders, but I'm guessing they've known that for a while now)

Re:It's the hypocricy (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907367)

The standard here is that everybody is expected to respect common decency and have a reasonable level of personal integrity, regardless of CEO or the common worker. Claiming a degree violates both to the extreme. Degrees are things people trust. Claiming one without having one it a violation of the order of society. It also reflects massively and negatively on the character of the person doing it.

Hence lying about a degree disqualifies you as a member of decent society, must get you ass fired and your career to be over.

Or you can go the way of, for example, Northern Korea, where a nil-whit is called the "Genius of the Geniuses". Of course, _that_ guy is a figurehead.

Re:It's the hypocricy (-1, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907469)

A degree is a sign of lack of inititive and a willingness to submit. The surprising thing is that anyone who rises to the top in such endeavours has one, not that this lying scumbag doesn't.

Kind of makes all those student loans you guys took out look rather stupid, doesn't it?

Re:It's the hypocricy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907477)

For the record, you do understand that he does have a college degree? He just lied about what his major was.

Re:It's the hypocricy (1)

RodBee (2607323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907531)

So... if a regular "M.D." in a hospital is revealed to not have a Medicine Degree, but a Biology one, it's OK because he has a degree anyways?

Re:It's the hypocricy (5, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907665)

More like by lying he's secured himself an opportunity that never would have been given him otherwise.

It's a messed up society when you can get further by lying and cheating than you can by playing it straight.

Re:It's the hypocricy (2)

reub2000 (705806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907707)

Hence lying about a degree disqualifies you as a member of decent society, must get you ass fired and your career to be over.

Being a decent member of society is not a prerequisite to being a CEO.

Re:It's the hypocricy (5, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907383)

"Yes, the CEO is far more important to the company than the sandwich guy."

Therefore is far more important to get the facts right *prior* to hire somebody for that role, isn't it?

Well, by lying about his CV in order to get his position, his lie is far more important than the sandwich guy doing the same, isn't it?

Now, what was your point, again?

Re:It's the hypocricy (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907393)

Yes, the CEO is far more important to the company

You can reasonably argue thats not true.

The only constant of corporate life is groupthink concentrates at the top. A standard issue stuffed suit is identical to any other standard issue stuffed suit. Any variation in results by different stuffed suits is caused by natural market variation. Who the board selects is not really all that important. Very much like programmer output, the top 0.1% of rock star workers (programmer or CEO) will outperform the masses by a factor of 10, but there are not enough 0.1% rock stars to really matter.

On the other hand, if you have a peon 1st level cust service who lies all the time, they can destroy millions in shareholder value per week, if they try hard enough.

so you want a sandwich artist to have a BA in art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907443)

so you want a sandwich artist to have a BA in art? you better keep a eye on the cash register so funds don't disappear as min wage can't pay off the loans.

Re:It's the hypocricy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907519)

Yes, the CEO is far more important to the company than the sandwich guy.

What if the sandwich guy becomes the CEO? He can LIE, you know. That's the point of firing the liers...

1979 was pre-PC era (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907265)

I don't think there's a hypocrisy there. Why would you fire an employee who lied on their CV, yet does the job well?

As to the 1979 CS degree, is there such a thing? PCs only existed since about 1984's so any degree he had has no relevance at all to modern computing. Who care what he did on PDP11s in Fortran?

It looks like someone's raking through his past trying to discredit him and thus undermine Yahoo. Presumably MS wants to buy the remainder dirt cheap after the Carl Icahn attack failed to kill it totally.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907401)

"Why would you fire an employee who lied on their CV, yet does the job well?"

To send a message.

Provided the employee does in fact the job well, it can't be because of the statements in his resume that led to hiring him so, from the part of the contractor it was blind luck. If you are going to hire under a "blind luck" assumptions, you surely should better fire all your hiring personnel and just hire on, say, a first come first gets it basis (hummm... for so many companies I think it wouldn't be such a big loss anyway).

If, on the other hand, you do believe that your hiring process has anything to do about the outcome of those hired, you'd better make a strong position about not tolerating anybody trying to jump it over, from CEO downwards.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (5, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907415)

As to the 1979 CS degree, is there such a thing? PCs only existed since about 1984's so any degree he had has no relevance at all to modern computing. Who care what he did on PDP11s in Fortran?

This is an astonishingly ignorant thing to write. What part of CS is different now than from 1979? Has O(n) suddenly become equal to O(log n)?

Regardless, recent trends have been bringing computing back to the mainframe model. Computation started out concentrated on mainframes because computers were so expensive. Microcomputers pushed computation out to the edges. Cloud and webservices are swinging the pendulum back to a centralized model, but guess what? CS has been relevant and valid though that entire spectrum.

Whether or not CS is important to the CEO of Yahoo! is arguable. I think most people are concerned about Thompson's values, not his knowledge of balancing trees.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907471)

"This is an astonishingly ignorant thing to write."

If you hadn't noticed, Slashdot is dominated by IT types who may be excellent sysadmins or even good software engineers, but have very little idea what computer science is.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (1)

RodBee (2607323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907605)

I'm not even sure they are IT guys. They sound like PR or marketing people in a tech area.

but what can I say? I'm not an IT guy. I try not to talk about what I don't know, but hey, not everyone know what they are ignorant about.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907621)

The funny thing is nothing is ever new in IT... Its all the same old stuff with new marketing, as the natural cycle turns. There is a huge competitive on the job advantage in having experienced the previous cycle(s) which noob IT people are completely blind to.

Also its impossible to be a good software engineer or good sysadmin without knowing CS. Almost an oxymoron. Maybe they don't know enough math to follow Knuth, but a good one has at least a gut level instinctual level of low level CS knowledge. Its always hilarious for me to watch IT noobs learn the CS guys not only have formulae and charts and provable theorems about their little scalability problem, but their 2010 gut level guesses and hard fought failed experiments were all figured out by the CS guys in the 60s/70s if they'd only have bothered to learn.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (1)

BonThomme (239873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907635)

I think with inflation it's now O(n^2)

He's a CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907735)

"What part of CS is different now than from 1979?"
The complete computer part is different.

"Has O(n) suddenly become equal to O(log n)?"
He doesn't write software.

"Regardless, recent trends have been bringing computing back to the mainframe model."
No, its moving to the tablet model.

Seriously, I've written more software than you ever have, including PDP11, and *I* don't have a CS degree because the CS degree was maths in my day with a sprinkling of computers. That was because their access to computers was a timeslice on the mainframe and a little bit of a PDP11.

So they built a CS degree which had little to do with computers and most to do with maths. Your comment typifies this. I bet you've never invented a sort algorithm, but you've studied how to describe the performance of sort algorithms 50 different ways.

"This is an astonishingly ignorant thing to write."
No it isn't.

"I think most people are concerned about Thompson's values, not his knowledge of balancing trees."
WTF? Seriously? We shareholders want him to make money, we know Gates is an a****hole, we know Jobs had a reputation as one, and WE DON'T CARE. We're not electing Mother Theresa here, he had to run a company.

BTW, I also don't care if he knows how to use log tables, a slide rule, a tape drive, and you know what, even a B-Tree, because he never has to invent the B tree and despite your CS course, neither did you.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (5, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907669)

As to the 1979 CS degree, is there such a thing? PCs only existed since about 1984's so any degree he had has no relevance at all to modern computing. Who care what he did on PDP11s in Fortran?

Thank you for this demonstration of how age discrimination works in the tech industry. For the record, PCs existed before 1984, and as long as you don't insist on IBM-standard they also existed in 1979 (e.g. Commodore PET, TRS-80, Apple II). And there were CS degrees even before those existed.

I have a CS degree from the 1980s (transcripts available), and as a matter of fact I did learn to write Fortran on a DEC minicomputer (a Vax 11; the PDP was in high school). Very little of my CS coursework was done on microcomputers: just graphics, assembly language, and an independent study. I had my own micro in my dorm room, which I used to dial into the Vax, for word processing, and to play Missile Command. No Internet, just a BITNET e-mail gateway. In fact, very few of the technology standards in use then are still in use now; even ASCII is on the way out.

But what I learned back in the Dark Ages (before the Windows opened up) wasn't simply Fortran, command-line interfaces, and the use of parity bits over a serial connection. What I learned was how to solve problems, and those skills remain just as relevant and valuable today as they were a quarter century ago.

Re:1979 was pre-PC era (2)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907671)

Maybe the fact that there are people who lie on their CV and still do a good job means that the actual importance of a CV is hellishly overblown.

Re:It's the hypocricy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907273)

That assumption is correct and not hypocrisy in any way.

The superstars, leadership and top performers are held to different standards because they are more important and valuable then the random joe schmoe at a company. There's nothing wrong with that.

Re:It's the hypocricy (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907285)

The assumption is that an employee who lied on his resume would likely be fired, but a CEO is too important to fire.

The assumption is that an employee who lied on his/her resume would likely lie about other things as well. A CEO can lie about the most important information about their company. Lie to the board, the stockholders, the SEC, etc.

His CS degree isn't relevant to his current position, but the fact that he lied about it is relevant.

Re:It's the hypocricy (0)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907405)

"A CEO can lie about the most important information about their company. Lie to the board, the stockholders, the SEC, etc."

A CEO lying on his resume has *already* lied to the board. You don't think the CEO's hiring process is led by a minion from HHRR, do you?

Re:It's the hypocricy (4, Insightful)

V-similitude (2186590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907389)

Honestly, I truly doubt his supposed CS degree from 1979 ever ONCE came up in the board's discussion to hire him. It's entirely irrelevant to the job at hand. In all likelihood it was either taken straight from his bio on e-bay (which may or may not have come from him) or the 5th page of his resume that hadn't been updated in 20 years. It's not about him being CEO, it's about whether a degree even matters for a 50+ year old employee with a strong employment background. It doesn't.

Yes, a junior programmer who explicitly lied about his degree should get fired, because that would be a critical part of the decision to hire him. But an older employee gets hired based on a solid work history and his degree may never come into question. In that case, CEO or not, the employee would probably not get fired just for having a lie 5 pages deep in his resume.

Now if there was a background check form that had him write in his education history anew and sign a "this is true to my knowledge" statement, and he still put the degree on there, perhaps there's some basis for termination just for the explicit lie. But it's not at all clear that that exists. Personally, I think it's just as likely that e-bay doctored the bio at some point to make itself feel better about him, and yahoo simply copied that without much thought.

Re:It's the hypocricy (2)

DanZ23 (901353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907437)

Now if there was a background check form that had him write in his education history anew and sign a "this is true to my knowledge" statement, and he still put the degree on there, perhaps there's some basis for termination just for the explicit lie. But it's not at all clear that that exists.

I would think all information you provide is _all_ under the assumption of "this is true to my knowledge". What is the point of it if it's not true? Does that really have to be spelled out?

Re:It's the hypocricy (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907599)

Yes, a junior programmer who explicitly lied about his degree should get fired, because that would be a critical part of the decision to hire him.

Same goes for the CEO. A critical part of the decision to hire him was that he made the best effort to give correct information to the Board of Directors. Even if it were truly irrelevant that the CEO had a technical degree (which I doubt), you still have the issue of lying to your employer which is routinely grounds for dismissal.

But let's suppose your view of things is correct, that the CEO didn't lie to the Board, and that this person merely uses a fraudulent biography for their public face at the company. It's still a remarkable lack of professionalism and display of poor judgment.

Re:It's the hypocricy (3, Insightful)

xevioso (598654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907641)

The issue I have with this is that he likely has had that degree listed on his resume for a very long time. From the very beginning, when he first placed it there, he was using that lie to help him get to where he is today. While he currently does not need the degree to do his job adequately (unlike, say, a degree in engineering), there probably was a time in one of his prior jobs where that degree was required or highly useful for him to be considered for a position.

In other words, he used this lie to get to this point in his career. This is not a one-time thing.

College should not be used as part of hiring (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907429)

College should not be used as part of hiring. Even more so in the tech field.

So what some who is doing a IT job lied about College?? (may to just get past HR) who cares if they can do the job? You know not all people are not college material but they can take tech classes / go to tech schools. So what if they when as a non-matriculated student or took classes non degree?

That is why at least for TECH there needs to be some kind of badges system.

Re:College should not be used as part of hiring (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907661)

This is a nice idea, but it flies directly into the extremely strongly held cultural / sociological belief that there is no difference between education and training and they're just synonyms for the same thing. You'd have better luck convincing people God does not exist thru logical argument. "College is training for a good job" is as closely held a belief as "god exists" In some ways, more closely held.

We have badges, they're called certifications, and decades of handing them out like crackerjack prizes means they're mostly useless. Certs with an industry wide accreditation board would work, and to the best of my knowledge has never been tried because of the excuse that developing classes, books, and tests means the cert designers would need to be involved in early blue sky development (as if that were not a pile of B.S. and as if NDAs didn't exist and as if the accreditation board needs to be involved at the earliest level of certification)

Back in 1998 a CCNA meant instant job offer. In 2012 I heard some guys at work talking about getting one because they're a ticket to success. It becomes a belief system, like people who still think getting a law degree means instant millions despite 50% unemployment for law grads for years and years now. If you ever get a badge/cert program in, people will believe in it for decades after it closes down, so maybe a high barrier to entry makes sense after all.

Re:It's the hypocricy (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907445)

Exactly the point isn't that he is unqualified to lead a company without the CS degree. But the fact that he said he had one when he doesn't. While someone doesn't need a CS degree to lead a company. When hiring it could be considered a bit of a Plus that this person at least has an inkling on what goes on in a company. The fact that he does or doesn't have a CS degree once you get to those levels doesn't count for much. But the fact that he continued the lie does. The CEO for a public traded company is the face for the company, they need to (at least publicly) appear to be the better person, Smarter, Harder Working, and Honest. (Pause for a movement for you to laugh at sentence) The problem is that they are just as human as everyone of us, and makes mistakes. However you are not being paid the huge bucks to make the mistakes that the rest of the people do, so if your ethics lapse while you are a CEO and people get found out, well you should be fired. That is why you get the big bucks, to cover for the risk that any lapse in judgement could get you fired. So I say fire the CEO for this. Because he lied on his resume and you don't want your company to be a company of lyers.

Re:It's the hypocricy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907539)

Why do police turn a blind eye to Wall Street bankers doing coke, but ruin the life of some poor schmuck carring half an ounce of weed?
Why are politicans tax contributions single digits while they talk of everyone making a fair contribution?
Why can someone with the best lawyers commit almost any crime on the books and get off scot free?

Why your outrage over the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful, when its acceptance is an axiom of society?

Re:It's the hypocricy (5, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907695)

Acceptance my ass.

Getting away with things that one of lower social status would get the book thrown at him for is simply one of the perks of being part of the elite.

We don't embrace it, we just grudgingly tolerate it because we have no choice.

Re:It's the hypocricy (1)

BonThomme (239873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907601)

...and thus we have 'too big to fail'.

If lying is not important... (0, Offtopic)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907229)

then I'm a multi-billionaire, have multiple advanced degrees from prestigious universities, and I screw the world's most desirable women several times a day.
And I have the first post!

Re:If lying is not important... (0)

Kotakee (2632245) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907243)

I know you're lying because no respectable and successful person would leave it at screwing women. You need ladyboys too.

Re:If lying is not important... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907253)

Aaawkwaaard.

Re:If lying is not important... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907295)

Tommy Flanagan [wikipedia.org] is posting on /.? Yeah! That's the ticket!

Unethical Culture, Bah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907231)

Ah, the "everyone else is doing it" excuse. How quaint.

Re:Unethical Culture, Bah (3, Interesting)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907573)

The only reasonable thing was said at the end ... by all means off with his head, it's a fucking good start.

That's why the 0.1% is using the media to defend the undefendable, it sets a dangerous precedent ... being held accountable even the smallest bit must never even be on the table for them.

I guess this means... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907235)

I guess this means that it's fine to lie to Yahoo when applying for a job. They've established a precedent that they won't fire someone who was caught doing so.

They've just moved to the top of my list of potential employers! Did I mention that I created the Internet, the World Wide Web, and all the programming languages they use?

Re:I guess this means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907375)

is that you Dan ? Didnt yo steal enough for your old age in Government service?

Re:I guess this means... (2)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907711)

I'm sorry, but lying on your resume and getting away with it is a privilege reserved for the elite.

Do you want a leader who lies? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907237)

Some people are missing the point. While the line isn't always clear, in general it's NOT OK to lie on resume to obtain a job or gain advancement. You need to think about this from the standpoint of you being the boss, and having people apply for a job on your team and finding out one of the applicants is being dishonest on his/her resume about qualifications or certifications they may have. Those people would usually be removed from consideration immediately. That's not to say you necessarily need a college degree to be a good, productive employee. I would give full consideration to an applicant who was forthright about their lack of paper qualifications as long as they could demonstrate that they have acquired the ability to do or learn the job through other means.

When it comes to the people who are leading a division or organization, this becomes even more important. What kind of shady deals would these people be willing to make, what kind of precarious situations would they be willing to put the company in? If you lie to get into the company on the bottom rung, it becomes more and more difficult to correct those lies as you progress in your career and climb the corporate ladder. If you choose to go that route, you'd better switch companies once you've acquired some experience and start your new job without lies.

Re:Do you want a leader who lies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907309)

But is that really what happened ? I question it because most companies ask for proof of a degree. If you can't provide that, they would at least grow suspicious.
What is exactly on the original resume ? Does anyone have a copy ?

My guess is that 30 years ago, that degree wasn't that important, so they never checked it.

But really, who cares about it ? It's an internal affair of Yahoo.

How many CEO's do you know that have a Computer Science degree ?

Re:Do you want a leader who lies? (1)

xevioso (598654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907647)

Proof of a degree? What company do you work for? I have never applied for a job that required proof of my degree.

Re:Do you want a leader who lies? (2)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907315)

Don't politicians lie all the time? A political promise only commits those who receive it...

Re:Do you want a leader who lies? (1)

sphealey (2855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907327)

- - - - you need to think about this from the standpoint of you being the boss, [...] When it comes to the people who are leading a division or organization, this becomes even more important. What kind of shady deals would these people be willing to make, what kind of precarious situations would they be willing to put the company in? - - - -

A boss whose company is being acquired is often given a bribe ("retention bonus") to lie to his employees about what he knows and what is going to happen for a long period of time (6-12 months is not uncommon). This is particularly common for director-level bosses and those who lead divisions or organizations. Not sure how that fits into your theory.

sPh

Re:Do you want a leader who lies? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907529)

While the line isn't always clear, in general it's NOT OK to lie on resume to obtain a job or gain advancement

I cry bogus. When the economy results in 100 fully qualified applicants for each job, the only way to rise to the top of the resume pile is to lie. Therefore most hired by resume and resume filtration are liars, or at least the percentage of liars is spectacularly high, or honest people are dramatically underemployed. I've gotten all my jobs since 1995 thru "knowing people" and "having heard about me" so I haven't had to lie, I've got no dog in the fight so I can be honest about the situation.

A good resume is a legalistically written document full of unprovable lies.

Seriously, doesn't every resume or cover letter contain BS about being "a team player" and being the cause of incredible business achievements? If all of that crap were true, we'd all be surrounded by superheros, or at least superheros who are mysteriously all retired-in-place. Since we aren't, that would inductively seem to indicate most resumes are works of fiction, at best historically accurate or historically inspired fiction.

Example: I've programmed in Perl for $$ since 1996. I know enough about Perl and CPAN to know its a bigger ecosystem than any human being can really understand in totality even if that is their full time academic job. To me, writing "I know Perl" on my resume feels OK, but I know what it takes to be an expert and I am not an expert because I spend time doing other stuff, other languages, etc. There are a lot of clowns out there who once glanced at a Oreilly book on a shelf and maybe changed a couple strings in a downloaded script who write "I am an expert at Perl" on their resume. One of us is lying, but its a somewhat subjective judgment. To a HR chick, we both know a heck of a lot more Perl than she does, so its technically true from her perspective, and disproving it is going to take an interview by someone with specialized knowledge. The liar sounds like a good interview to schedule to a HR chick. I'll never get that interview from HR because the "expert" resume will rise to the top of the resume pile (well, also ageism means I'm disqualified from any future IT employment by HR, unless I lie on my resume by forward dating graduation years, skipping over a couple jobs, etc... thankfully I don't have gray hair and no wrinkles because I don't suntan). Possibly, if I know the hiring manager and maybe a couple of his underlings, I can bypass HR, get an interview, and get the job despite being "too old" and "not being an expert". That's pretty much how its worked so far.

What is wrong is getting caught by stuffing the resume with stuff that's easily dis-proven. Go ahead, prove I wasn't the NCOIC of my computer control section when I was still in the Army in June of 1995, which is kind of a staffing anomaly for a lowly E-4 (usually a E-6 SSG slot). That story is true, but how the hell you'd prove I was lying is a complete mystery to me. I think they put me there as a test, so both I and them could see if I was going to be a lifer. Answer, a mutually agreed upon no. It was fun, and nothing bad happened, but, no longer interested, thanks. Job assignment should be more like that.

Engineers depend on truth (3, Informative)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907241)

Yes, we can be a bit literal minded. But we depend on knowing the straight dope to do our jobs ; our core competencies are founded on the ability to employ facts that we know to be, well, factual.

Hence it's not really a surprise to find that we don't like people lying. It unsettles us. It's like some ghastly evil magic, the ability to blithely say things that aren't true without suffering any kind of stress reaction at all. Even that thing that management do where they misunderstand what you are saying about the capabilities of a technology and misrepresent it in a meeting brings us out in hives. Discovering that they are doing it on purpose really offends us.

Re:Engineers depend on truth (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907337)

It also offends us greatly when somebody is claiming to be an engineer that really is not. It demeans us and means our skills are arbitrary and that anybody can claim them without verification and consequences. This cannot be allowed to stand.

Re:Engineers depend on truth (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907713)

It also offends us greatly when somebody is claiming to be an engineer that really is not. It demeans us and means our skills are arbitrary and that anybody can claim them without verification and consequences.

Isn't it actually illegal in the US to claim to be an engineer and practice engineering without a degree or certification?

Honesty Matters (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907247)

If he's dishonest enough to lie about something inconsequential like whether he had a CS degree several decades ago why do we think he'll be honest with billions in Yahoo money? Integrity matters and correlation between little lies and huge ones are pretty strong.

Re:Honesty Matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907331)

Yeah, just because you say correlation is strong it is so.Like you never lied?

Re:Honesty Matters (1)

dlcarrol (712729) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907363)

Genetic Fallacy

Re:Honesty Matters (1)

BonThomme (239873) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907657)

also known as "The Cockroach Theory". I seen cockroach correlates with about 1000 unseen ones.

lying is ok for CEOs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907257)

"his critics have ulterior motives, and his competitors have all lied before. 'Forgive me for being less than shocked at the idea of a CEO lying"

So lets ignore all CEOs that happen to lie. Lying is not important if the person is a CEO, in fact we expect them to lie! Same goes for board of directors I guess.

-wow, unbelievably ignorant of author

Re:lying is ok for CEOs? (1)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907535)

His point is we are ignoring the CEOs that have lied. An arbitrary application of "I'm offended".

This kerfuffle is about someone wanting to be on the board, and that person manipulating hatred of dishonesty to try and get what he wants

Obligatory Dave Barry quote (1)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907261)

Your résumé is not just a piece of paper. It's a piece of paper with lies written all over it.

More seriously... Who doesn't beautify his résumé by slightly exaggerating his or her achievements and level of responsibilities?

Not to mention the VP et al labyrinth of meaningless corporate title BS.

Re:Obligatory Dave Barry quote (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907325)

"slight exaggeration" is already dishonest and means you are lying scum. Claiming a multi-year degree is not "slightly exaggerating" though. I do not know about the US, but in Europe, this is criminal and can get you fined. There are some multiple offenders (on PhD-level though) that have been sent to prison. In any case, this is grounds for immediate termination.

Re:Obligatory Dave Barry quote (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907369)

Let those whose resumés are a frankly honest documentation of their job histories, and those who have not put any "spin" on the reasons for leaving previous jobs... throw the first stones.

Re:Obligatory Dave Barry quote (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907489)

Okay. Are you volunteering as the first target?

Re:Obligatory Dave Barry quote (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907459)

I don't have to, darling.

Unethical behavior is still unethical (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907263)

What Dan Lyons fails to grasp is that unethical behavior is unethical no matter if everybody is doing it or not. Also, if a person is unethical about one thing he is likely unethical about other things as well. Our leaders, be they political, military, the police, businessmen, etc. need to act ethical in the best interests of society. The last thirty or more years of letting people get away with ethical violations instead of holding them to a higher standard have resulted in the mess our society is in today. If we don't stand up and say certain behavior is unacceptable in our leaders, we'll continue to get greedy, lying sociopaths leading us.

then why lie? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907271)

"Even without the circa-1979 CS degree some incorrectly thought he possessed, Lyons argues that Thompson is still perfectly capable, (...)"

If his capability is not affected by not having the degree, then why did he lie about it in the first place? He could have told the truth and it wouldn't have mattered.

Unless, of course, either the assumption that his capability is not affected is wrong (unlikely for a CEO), or the assumption that he was chosen based on his capabilities is wrong (much more likely), or that his stunt does damage the company but sacking him now is too complicated (less likely but possible), or maybe by lying he demonstrated another of his capabilities that would be valuable as Yahoo's CEO (depend's on the company's goals).

Hmmm (2)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907287)

So it's acceptable for people to lie if they are important? I suppose paying a small fine for doing unethical actions purify the actions somehow. Society seems to accept this and society is always correct so those that don't agree are big dodo heads and totally unreasonable.

Lying's okay... as long as you're punished for it (5, Interesting)

Broofa (541944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907297)

Paraphrasing the article:

"Google lied ... and paid $500M when they got caught"
"Facebook lied ... and settled with the FTC when they got caught"
"Scott Thompson lied ... so just leave him alone, people!"

Re:Lying's okay... as long as you're punished for (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907545)

It's not only this. The logical implications of the arguments present in the article make us believe that it's ok to lie if you're important and have money. It's pretty depressing that money is the moral validator of our society and the media that should reprehend this kind of behaviour is endorsing it.

did he look like this when he said that? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907307)

Leave $name alone! (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907353)

I assume that's the "Leave Britney Alone" guy...I was amused by the pun in the /. article title...

Lying about accomplishments disqualifies him (5, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907313)

There are a few things that lying about is completely unacceptable and disqualifies you as a member of civilized society. Education is the most important. All those that now protect Thompson do not seem to get it. My guess would be quite often due to a lack of education and in some cases certainly because they have done the same. If lying about degrees suddenly becomes acceptable, everybody will do it and degrees become meaningless. As degrees do not only provide the degree itself, but specific skills, knowledge and insights, if degrees become meaningless, incompetence in critical positions will raise.

The second thing is that lying about a degree speaks volumes about the personality and character of the person doing it. It speaks of somebody that claims to be something he is not. It speaks of ambition without skill. It makes it highly likely he lied and continues to lie in other regards and that he is a generally dishonest person, at least whenever he thinks he can get away with it.

As to the matter in detail, yes, even an old CS degree matters very much. It gives a different perspective on a number of things that have not changed at all. Details may have changed, but the fundamental issues are still the same, and this person does not have the skills to assess them. You cannot go from nothing to master just watching these things from the outside. You have to have hands-on experience and a CS degree provides that.

For these reasons, Thompson must step down and his career must be over. Otherwise we will get even more dishonest and incompetent (but power-hungry) people in comparable positions.

Re:Lying about accomplishments disqualifies him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907385)

"There are a few things that lying about is completely unacceptable and disqualifies you as a member of civilized society. Education is the most important."

Translation: My education and my college degree are the only thing that make me valuable to society.

Re:Lying about accomplishments disqualifies him (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907407)

Even a college degree is a real accomplishment and anybody claiming one without having one is scum. I do not have one, but a few other degrees. That would not make me trample over people's college degrees though.

As to the ad hominem argument: It is the mark of a small mind. Goes well with being an Anonymous Coward.

Re:Lying about accomplishments disqualifies him (2)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907721)

Otherwise we will get even more dishonest and incompetent (but power-hungry) people in comparable positions.

Too late. The psychopaths have been driving the bus for most of the latter 20th century. The 21st version is all about 'coming out' and eliminating the legal obstacles for corp gluttony and fascism, it seems.

Summary hole (4, Informative)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907319)

The summary missed perhaps the most interesting part of the article:

The guy who broke the news about the phony degree is Dan Loeb, a hedge-fund manager and activist shareholder whose company owns a 5 percent stake in Yahoo, making it the largest outside shareholder. He’s been pushing Yahoo to get rid of some board members and put him and three other nominees on the board instead. Yahoo won’t do it. So now Loeb creates a public-relations nightmare for them, and maybe this will help his chances of getting his board seats.

The point being that everyone is dishonest, and while this guy got caught in a particularly clear-cut case of dishonesty, it's not very important, and it's not at all as bad as what the guy who accused him is doing. I agree with him there. The only thing I wonder about is the intelligence of a guy who felt the need to lie about his degree when it matters so little given his work experience and which can easily be checked. Sadly I question the competence of a CEO who can't lie well. Maybe that's what the board is really investigating.

Re:Summary hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907427)

The point being that everyone is dishonest, and while this guy got caught in a particularly clear-cut case of dishonesty, it's not very important, and it's not at all as bad as what the guy who accused him is doing. I agree with him there.

What do you mean "not at all as bad as what the guy who accused him is doing"? What is wrong with shareholders attempting to change a declining company's management in the belief that they know people who can run it better? A public company is supposed to be a enterprise run on behalf of the shareholders, not a mutual self-help group for the directors like some sort of (very highly paid) Liars' Anonymous. If the board really doesn't think it matters that the CEO blatantly invented one of his qualifications, I am beginning to see Mr Loeb's point.

Re:Summary hole (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907503)

Digging up dirt on a guy you want to see gone and then publicly posting it on the internet while posing as the good guy who's just fighting for the truth (as opposed to a shareholder with a personal stake in things) is worse in my book than lying about your college major after graduating decades ago and leading another tech company in the meantime.

I'd like to say I don't necessarily believe TFA's version of events, at least not without a second source corroborating it and Loeb getting a chance to have his say, but getting to the truth of this matter is so unimportant to me personally that I'm willing to just roll with it for the sake of discussion.

Man, in light of the above, I really need something to fill my time. I should get a boyfriend. Or a dog.

Re:Summary hole (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907637)

Digging up dirt on a guy you want to see gone and then publicly posting it on the internet while posing as the good guy who's just fighting for the truth (as opposed to a shareholder with a personal stake in things) is worse in my book than lying about your college major after graduating decades ago and leading another tech company in the meantime.

I'd like to say I don't necessarily believe TFA's version of events, at least not without a second source corroborating it and Loeb getting a chance to have his say, but getting to the truth of this matter is so unimportant to me personally that I'm willing to just roll with it for the sake of discussion.

Man, in light of the above, I really need something to fill my time. I should get a boyfriend. Or a dog.

But they haven't been posing. They have always been crystal clear on what they want. If you read Third Point's press releases on this matter, you will see that they have never concealed the fact that they have a stake in the company and are trying to change the board. It is mentioned in every one. In fact, due to the size of their stake they had to make a formal public announcement to the SEC when they acquired it.

They published a public letter announcing their strategy to the board last September and copied in the SEC: SEC EDGAR [sec.gov]

 

And I don't see what is inconsistent about being a good guy and wanting to turn around a failing company. Not everything that makes money is bad.

Re:Summary hole (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907435)

A little reality check I occasionally give to students: Outside of academia, the only people who will ever sincerely care what your major was in college (and especially your minor) are the people who hire you for your first job. At that point in your career, your major and the grades you got in those classes are all you have going for you, so it's the only basis they have for judging you. But when you apply for your second job, all they will care about was your performance at your current/previous job, and maybe what kind of grades you got in college. "You've got a BA in English Literature, but you've spent the last two years writing binary control code for moisture vaporators? Welcome to Hutt Engineering." Third job and onward: it's 100% about your work experience. So it isn't worth lying about, and it isn't worth the petty outrage over it.

Isn't respect an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907381)

I would say it should be rather hard for any Yahoo engineering employee to respect their CEO any longer.
The other examples are one thing, a CEO lying isn't a big deal, that's usually about stuff the engineers really don't want to bother with anyway and don't care how it is done.
But lying about having an engineering degree? Is there really any engineer at Yahoo who doesn't think stuff like "pathetic", "if I did that I'd be fired", "he's too stupid to fake engineering" etc.?
Having half the work force making fun of the CEO sure isn't a convincing way to lead the company out of trouble.

Same standards for everyone is what's at stake (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907447)

What's at stake here isn't whether his lack of a degree matters or whether this is one of those innocent embellishments.

We shouldn't let ourselves be lulled into a debate over what we think the real issues are -- the same standards and punishments should be applied to this CEO as would be applied to any other employee in the organization. There shouldn't be a double standard for this guy just because he's the CEO.

Bill Clinton Lied (1)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907481)

and only the republicans seemed to care about that one..

totally agree with leave him alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907483)

if he is doing a good job (not up to us to decide), then this is a very small issue.The point for the board to continuously evaluate is whether he is capable. This is now a social issue caused by a shareholder who is looking purely to disrupt the company because they cant get a board seat.

Lyons also championed msft/scox-scam (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907491)

Dan Lyons wrote several articles siding with msft/scox, in msft/scox's preposterous scam lawsuit against IBM.

no pass for Thomson or Jobs (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907509)

Leave Scott Thompson alone? No! And Steve Jobs is not the greatest CEO ever. What a sorry, pathetic apologist Mr. Lyons is being! Does he like Lloyd Blankfein, Tony Hayward, Angelo Mozilo, Dick Fuld, Brian Moynihan, Ken Lewis, and Ken Lay too?

Stop being bedazzled by wealth and power, and not caring whether it was ill gotten! Too many people still venerate them, even now, when memories of the most recent disaster perpetrated by our wealthy elite should still be fresh. It's dangerous. Are honest people all idiots, chumps, dupes, and mushrooms? What kind of world does Lyons want for us all?

We think that little of CEOs? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907571)

So if I read this correctly, we're now at the point where our collective opinion of CEOs is so low that any standard of behavior above "didn't go on a shooting spree" is considered acceptable?

Sorry, but no. We should expect at least out of our so-called "leaders" what we expect out of entry level staff or unpaid interns. That many CEOs are too morally bankrupt to meet that standard doesn't mean we lower it.

Re:We think that little of CEOs? (1)

evafan76 (2527608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907643)

That many CEOs are too morally bankrupt to meet that standard doesn't mean we lower it.

I think many people in positions of power would find a way to crawl under the standard, no matter how low we lower it...

Dear mr. Lyons, (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907577)

Dear mr. Lyons,

Just because they all lie, doesn't make it okay for any single one of them to lie.

college dropout != lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907611)

why do you sprinkle the [college dropout] comments like they are an insult ?

Lousy kids (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39907619)

"But mooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmm! They did it fiiiiirssssst!"

Collective lie VS Selfish lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907627)

There is another difference that was not mentioned. If I had shares in Yahoo, I would expect the CEO to defend the company's best interest even if (it pains me to admit this) he has to lie to the general public to do so (up to a certain level or course!!). I would expect the CEO to pretend we have a better product then we do and that we have a more competent team. This is a Collective lie! However, by lying on his resume, he does not serve Yahoo's interests at all. On the contrary, how does Yahoo look like now? This is not the same kind of lie. It only serves Scott Thompson's selfish interests and you have to be a fool to think that this is OK.

Obama lies all the time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39907683)

unemployment will never go above 8% on my watch

stimulus will work

i didn't know what that preacher Wright was saying

etc., etc.

not to mention all the shady-ness (back room deals and political give-aways) that went on to pass Obamacare

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