Internet giant Yahoo hasn’t had much luck over the past few years and it has run into yet another controversy after a major shareholder accused its new chief executive of falsifying some of his education credentials.
Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb said in a letter to the company that he discovered chief executive Scott Thompson didn’t have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, as the company’s regulatory filings showed.
Loeb accused Thompson of only earning a degree in accounting.
“If Mr Thompson embellished his academic credentials, we think that it undermines his credibility as a technology expert and reflects poorly on the character of the chief executive who has been tasked with leading Yahoo at this critical juncture,” he said in the letter.
Yahoo acknowledged there was a mistake in the filing, saying in a statement that this was an “inadvertent error”.
“This in no way alters the fact that Mr Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies.”
“We can confirm that Patti Hart holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with specialties in marketing and economics from Illinois State University,”
While many shareholders may have glossed over the issue, checking candidate credentials is a key concern for SMEs.
Thompson is in the clear, but businesses have alerted SmartCompany to instances of candidates embellishing their resumes. In some cases, experts have warned, this can be the first step a fraudster takes in ripping off money.
While the Yahoo issue has been put to rest, here are five credentials you should double check before hiring a new executive or employee.
1. Double check the degree
Plenty of candidates will put a degree on their resume, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t actually check this.
If you want to double check an education credential, ask for a copy of the degree, or at least request a copy of a grades transcription. It may not influence your decision, but it will be enough to know you’re dealing with a trustworthy person.
2. Call references – but not just those that are listed
It should go without saying references should be checked – most businesses do this. But experts say it’s actually a good idea to call some other people as well.
KPMG forensic accounting director Gary Gill told SmartCompany this week businesses should also call people who aren’t listed as references. Speaking with a human resources director may give you another perspective on your candidate.
3. Confirm professional memberships
Bookkeepers and accountants, among others, will belong to professional membership associations. Double check these constantly, as it’s one of the easiest tricks to pull off if you’re not actually a member. Most people wouldn’t bother checking.
4. Look up the work history
If someone lists their work history, you should do the hard yards and actually double check they did work there. LinkedIn is a good place to start. If there’s a disparity between the two work histories, you’ve got a red flag.
5. Test the skills
Many candidates will list a number of skills on their resume, but some of them might not be up to scratch. It’s a good idea to use a hiring process that tests candidates in the skills they suggest they have – a practical trial is always a good way to start.