CEO Departures Fall – Resume Fraud Again A Concern

Challenger’s monthly report on CEO turnover found that the number of CEOs leaving their posts nosedived in February with just 82 departures recorded during the month. That is down 27 percent from January’s 113 CEO exits and represents the lowest monthly turnover since December 2004, when 56 CEO departures were announced.

February departures were 28.1 percent lower than the 114 chief executive exits recorded in February a year ago.

One blogger Jack Davis of SiliconBeat posited that retention bonuses and consistantly high pay for top executives might be keeping them around.

Overall, 196 CEOs have left their posts this year, down 20 percent from 248 CEO changes recorded in the first two months of 2008.

Health care led all sectors in CEO departures with 21. The technology sector – electronics, e-commerce, computer and telecommunications – saw 12 CEOs leave their posts, while the government/non-profit industry lost 9. Seven chief executives left financial institutions.

While most (24) CEOs resigned last month with no other explanation, four companies cited that the worsening economic conditions led to restructuring of the management team. One leader left directly because of the credit collapse, while another cited bankruptcy. Three CEOs were fired last month.

So far this year, 57 chief executives resigned while 27 retired. Fifty-three stepped into other positions within the company, usually as a board member or other C-suite executive. Eighteen found new positions in other companies, while 4 found positions within their current companies, usually as the head of a different division or subsidiary operation.

While the economy was most often mentioned as the reason organizations were restructuring management teams, one COO resigned after reports of resume embellishments were uncovered by the Fraud Discovery Institute and published by Bloomberg News. Patrick Avery, former President and COO of chemical-miner Intrepid Potash Inc., claimed to have earned a bachelors degree from Colorado University and a masters from Loyola Marymount. Although he attended and took courses at both institutions, he never received the degrees. The company expects to use him as an operations consultant.

Resume fraud is likely to become more prevalent in the downturn, even among high-level executives. With increased competition for available positions, there is more pressure to find and keep a position. With this pressure comes the temptation to embellish one’s education or work record. More of these embellishments are likely to be uncovered, however, as companies become more selective and more diligent in the vetting process.

While a few missed courses might not matter to hiring manager, lying on a resume certainly will.

***CORRECTION***
Patrick Avery of Intrepid Potash was the Chief Operating Officer, not the CEO, as previously reported. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Our March report, due April 8 at 10AM EDT will have corrected, updated data.

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