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CV lies and fakes - what ever it takes

By Malcolm King - posted Thursday, 3 April 2008


There was something screwy about his resume. I’ve written about 400 resumes as head of my business and with many years in PR, I can smell “dupe” better than I can spell it.

Yet it’s my job to ensure the candidate is represented by their CV (which I was writing), in the best possible light. But this does not extend to lying.

The problem was his grade point average for his Australian MBA was higher than any possible maximum. GPA’s usually have a maximum score if 7. His was 20. Clearly a genius.

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When I telephoned him to ask about this discrepancy - it could have been a keystroke error - there was a pronounced pause (not a good sign) and he claimed that I had no right to question his credentials.

And he was right. In Australia, under the Privacy Act, a university or TAFE will not give any information regarding whether a candidate completed their degree or the grades they achieved. They will release the information only with the permission of the client.

Lawrence Money in The Age recently picked up on this loophole when a former RMIT Business student claimed he had completed his degree when he had not. RMIT would not disclose any details about the former student’s academic bona fides.  In 2006 an Australian employment screening company, RISQ, found that one in four job applicants were falsifying or embellishing their tertiary qualifications to dupe employers in to hiring them.

A 2003 Pricewaterhouse Coopers investigation of resumes at a large Australian financial institution found that 40 per cent contained “serious mis-statements” including fake qualifications.

Resume fraud is a vexed issue for a number of reasons. It’s first and foremost a legal issue as to obtain a job and thereby monies using false or fraudulent information, is a crime and one can be charged under any number of Acts including the Crimes Act.

Last year former senior Australian Federal Government official Bobby Singh, was caught listing fake degrees from Harrington University in America on his resume.

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Harrington University is one of many “degree mills” that sell degrees on the Internet. The curriculum requires no educational assessment.

Mr Singh’s case was due to go before the Federal Magistrates’ Court recently but was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Last year Peter Imbardellia quit as CEO of IHG Asia Pacific, after it was discovered that he had not received his degrees from an Ivy League American university as stated on his resume. He had only attended classes.

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An edited version of this story was first published in The Advertiser on March 22, 2008.



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About the Author

Malcolm King works in generational workforce change. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University. He also runs a professional writing business called Republic.

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