Wal-Mart spokesman resigns after résumé discovery

Why do people lie on resumes?
Why do people lie on resumes?

David Tovar, Wal-Mart's vice president of corporate communications, is leaving the retail giant after a background check revealed he hadn't finished his college degree.

In a phone interview, Tovar told CNBC the résumé error was discovered while he was undergoing an assessment as part of the process of being promoted to senior vice president. He had been with the retail giant for eight years after working at Altria earlier.

"As part of that process I was going through additional leadership assessment, including a battery of tests including questions about leadership, drug tests, background checks," he said. "In the background check my education was flagged—it was done by a third party company. They asked me about it, and I was 100 percent transparent."

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David Tovar

Following four years at the University of Delaware, Tovar said, he walked in the school's graduation ceremony, moved to New York and landed a job. Several months later, he said, he learned he was a few credits short of earning his degree following a mix-up.

"I got a job and never looked back. I really didn't think an art degree would matter in communications, which was the field I went into," he said.

Fast forward nearly two decades, and the mix-up halted his climb up the ladder at the retail giant.

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"Wal-Mart said they could not promote me based on what they found. I said that the more senior job is the one that what I wanted, so we agreed I would leave," he said. "I am leaving on good terms and Walmart has been very supportive. I am still here a few more weeks."

Bloomberg News first reported the news Tuesday.

Tovar is far from the first person to get tripped up by similar oversights. Scott Thompson left his post as Yahoo's CEO after Third Point's Daniel Loeb discovered Thompson had only earned an accounting degree from Stonehill College—rather than one in computer science as well.

In the 2006, RadioShack's then-chief executive David Edmondson resigned after it was revealed he lacked a college degree but had claimed he earned two.

—By CNBC's Katie Little. Sandy Maltzman contributed reporting.