Lies, Damned Lies and Job Applications

More than one third of graduates lie about or exaggerate their results when applying for a job. Many of us have heard this before, but perhaps we don’t realise quite how serious it is: more than 33% of the people you work with have committed fraud. There have been some stunning examples of this kind of fraud, as candidates seek to secure a position at the top of the corporate ladder.

Employee fraud happens at all levels

In 2012, Yahoo dismissed chief executive Scott Thompson when it was revealed that he had lied about his credentials. Thompson had claimed to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College – a degree which was not even available at the time of his graduation. Thompson’s case, and the ones to follow, shows that employee fraud is not only committed by those at the bottom of the ladder, the junior designers or salespeople, it’s also carried out by  those at the top of the tree.

In a recent case, Telstra confirmed in July that Vish Nandlall would be resigning from his post amid allegations that he had embellished details of his CV, including that he held an MBA from Harvard. While these allegations were neither confirmed nor denied, Nandlall’s resignation highlights the seriousness of the repercussions that come with cases of CV fraud.

For an example that’s closer to home, see Patrick Imbardelli, former rising star at Intercontinental Asia. Prior to making the leap from chief executive of the Asia Pacific branch to the main board of what was then the world’s biggest hotelier, a background screening found that Imbardelli had wrongfully claimed to hold three degrees; in business studies, business administration and hotel administration. The screening revealed that while he had attended a number of classes for two two of these, he actually only graduated with one degree. Imbardelli was forced to resign from his $350,000 a year post.

Of course, fraud during the application process isn’t confined to the most senior roles. In fact, 11% of people surveyed by the UK Government in 2014 claimed to have a degree when they in fact did not.

Local Verification and Checking is Critical

You wouldn’t consider letting an unqualified doctor diagnose you, nor would you think to let an under qualified construction worker build your house, so why is it so common to let employees work for us when they are not who they say they are?

This is a serious problem; how do you know your candidates qualifications and experience are as they claim?

The key is to carry out stringent due diligence. Verification is the only true way to root out the lies, the exaggerations and the embellishments. This isn’t always easy, particularly if you’re working in a country where your language is not spoken widely or where you do not know the lay of the land so well. Local operators, able to work effectively in this field, can go right to the source. They can contact universities and previous employers to thoroughly verify references to ensure that your potential new employee is every bit as valuable as they claim.

Senior appointments can make or break a business. Can you afford to take the chance on an un-checked candidate?