This is the resume lie that disgraced a political candidate

Do people really double check your credentials and call up the schools you put down on your resume? Yes, let the story of Melissa Howard, a disgraced Republican candidate for the Florida Legislature, be your cautionary tale on why you shouldn’t fake details of your resume.

Last week, local news outlet FLA News reported that Howard faked her resume and did not obtain a degree from Miami University in Ohio as she said she did in her candidate bio (which has since been taken down). FLA News said that Howard attended Miami University from August 1990 to May 1994, but did not graduate. Initially, Howard said the accusation was false, and to prove it, she posted a picture of her diploma.

FLA News backed down from its claims but then the school corroborated the outlet’s reporting. “We have no such record of a degree,” the university’s general counsel said in a statement, noting that the school does not even offer a degree in marketing that Howard’s diploma claimed she got. “Miami University’s degree for marketing majors then, as it is now, was a Bachelor of Science in Business.”

The jig was up. Howard admitted that she had lied and officially suspended her candidacy last Tuesday. “I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race,” she told WWSB. “I made a terrible error in judgement.”

Why you should never fake your diploma

Howard joins a long list of people who thought they could fake their credentials without consequence. There are many fibbers among us at the office. Nearly half of us —46%— said that we know someone who has lied on their resume, according to staffing service firm OfficeTeam.

Last year, one high school principal was caught lying about her education credentials by some intrepid student journalists. Employees have even become executives and CEOs with lies on their resume before eventually getting caught.

You can last a long time with a faked resume, but eventually, people can start asking questions and your past can catch up to you. Your high rank may show that you were able to exhibit basic competence in spite of gaps in your background. But the betrayal of trust is what led to each of these fakers’ downfall.

“If you could lie about that part of your past,” hiring managers may think. “What else are you lying about?”