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Yahoo CEO's explanation for resumegate isn't that implausible

Yahoo!'s Santa Monica location. CEO Scott Thompson now says he was never asked for his resume before he was hired.
Yahoo!'s Santa Monica location. CEO Scott Thompson now says he was never asked for his resume before he was hired. stevelyon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Here's the latest on the battle between Dan Loeb of hedge fund Third Point and the Yahoo board over whether Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson has been trading on exaggerated educational credentials: Thompson says...he never provided a resume before he was hired!

This is from DealBook:

Mr. Thompson’s likely argument is that while he met with representatives for Yahoo’s board during the hiring process late last year, he never submitted a résumé. That leaves open the question of how the erroneous computer science degree was incorporated into his record.

The nonexistent degree began to appear in his corporate biography at PayPal, the eBay division that he led until accepting the Yahoo job. But a review of eBay’s securities filings shows that the company correctly noted that Mr. Thompson held only an accounting degree.

What basically went down is that Yahoo hired an executive search firm to find a new CEO, after Carol Bartz was fired last year. But Thompson heard about the opening and cold-called the board. You can easily imagine how no resume ever changed hands, given that Thompson was hired in brisk fashion in January of this year.

But wait! Don't CEOs have to produce a resume? Well, maybe not. Have you ever gotten hired for a job where nobody asked you for a resume? Maybe not. But in my profession, journalism, there have certainly been hires, for decent salaries or contracts, where the resume didn't factor in. It's what you've actually done, rather than how you've recorded it, that matters.

When it comes to business executives, anyone who could be a CEO candidate is probably very well known in his particular world. To the extent that employers might be able to recite his or her qualifications even better than the candidate.

That said, Thompson's problem is that at some point, he seems to have said that he did have a computer science degree — and may have even written that info down on a resume — when he not only didn't but couldn't: the college he graduated from didn't offer a CS degree until several years after he graduated.

As defenses go, Thompson's isn't very solid. But it's also completely plausible.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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