It doesn’t matter who you are or what type of start-up business you are going into there is one general rule you always need to follow – get into bed with a snake and chances are you’re going to get bitten. In other words there is one thing above all else that can bring a great idea down and that is the people you decided to work with.
While most people are very genuine the reality is that some are not and stories abound of people who have made claims about their experience and connections, qualifications and professional associations that really do make the mind boggle. In talking with one start-up business owner he partnered with a person who he had thought had impeccable qualifications and a degree in accounting combined with a great depth of experience in the field of human resources – both were critical skills as the business got up and running. As the months went on things became confusing for the business start-up owner when he realised accounts were not being processes and stories began to emerge that this particular person was suffering the most horrendous of illnesses – cancer.
As you would expect the start-up business owner took a very compassionate view of the individual’s circumstances and did everything he could do to support the individual never questioning his condition. Stepping forward a few months the individuals story went too far when the business start-up owner realised he may have been lied to. Saying that he was due to go in for major surgery the business owner attempted to find out which hospital his partner would be staying in. Soon the reality hit him that the individual wasn’t going into a hospital for major surgery and he never had cancer – in fact, he had been suffering a severe mental illness well before he joined the business and it turned out his depth of skills, qualifications and experience were nowhere near what was expected.
This meant that the business owner had spent nearly 12 months completely distracted from his business that caused immense personal stress – because at the end of the day the first major investment of time, materials and capital into a start-up comes from the start-up owner. Eventually the two parted ways with the acceptance that lessons had been learnt and the business reformed itself.
But that is one story of many where the skills, experience and qualifications of individuals were called into question and just about bought a business down. Others include people working in the public sector and include the case of New Zealand’s Head of Immigration Mary-Anne Thompson who embellished her resume to the point where she claimed to have a PhD from the London School of Economics. Of course she didn’t and she lost her job, was convicted by a court, fined and told to do 100 hours of community service.
So, we have some advice for those looking to partner or employ someone – and it really is the same advice for start-ups, human resources managers etc. that is very generic:
Don’t just accept what people tell you – google them and ask questions
Just because it’s on LinkedIn doesn’t make it accurate
If a qualification is critical to your business then make sure you check it. Most Universities and Colleges will tell you for free if you someone does or does not have what they say they have on a resume
Always check a resume against multiple sources of information. For example, compare a resume with a LinkedIn profile and vice versa
Always check to see what the potential future employee is saying about themselves online
Many people rely on recruiters to do this job for them – of checking, checking and rechecking. The truth is unless you check the terms and conditions of your recruitment services agreement it may very well be that you bear the ultimate responsibility – and, often, the person’s true background is outside the guarantee period that many recruiters offer. So, use the old adage of “if it’s got to be its up to me” to ensure you check, check and check again.
Of course, you won’t do this with everyone who might apply for a job, only those who are on a shortlist – a few hours invested could end up saving you thousands. By the way – remember the CEO of Yahoo, Scott Thompson? Well he had to resign when it came to light he had lied about having a computer science degree (ouch!).
Take a look at these CV / resume fraud cases from New Zealand (first published in the Sunday Star Times and updated on stuff.co.nz on 9/3/2014)
CV FRAUD CASES IN NZ
February 2014: Michael Vukcevic resigned as CEO of Baldwins after falsely claiming to have a law degree.
January 2014: Caroline Watene, who worked for the Maori tertiary institution Te Wananga O Aotearoa, was sentenced to nine months home detention after having falsely claiming to have a diploma in Te Reo Maori from the University of Waikato.
May 2013: Tracy Hibbard, a childcare employee, was sentenced to eight months home detention after being convicted of forging her childcare qualifications. She had cut and pasted and photocopied documents to make a diploma look genuine.
September 2012: Rosylin Singh was stuck off the Nurse's Registrar after being found guilty of forging her practising certificate. When she applied for a role as school nurse she included a referee who gave a positive recommendation but the person named as referee later denied ever having been spoken to and the contact phone number was not hers.
May 2012: Te Rito Miki, a convicted child sex offender, was sentenced to seven charges of using false CVs and a birth certificate to gain teaching positions at six schools.
May 2011: Maria Lewis, a 57-year-old Hawke's Bay school principal with more than 30 years teaching experience, was found guilty of fabricating a job reference when she applied for the principal's role.
March 2010: Mary-Anne Thompson, the former head of the New Zealand Immigration Service pleaded guilty to CV fraud and was fined $10,000 and given 100 hours of community work. The charges related to CV fraud allegedly committed in 1989,1998 and 2002 when she used a false CV to secure senior government positions by claiming to have a PhD from the London School of Economics.
May 2010: Trevor Esera, a 33-year-old IT manager, was sentenced to three years 10 months jail for using a false CV to secure a position as Rinnai New Zealand's accountant, then stealing $1.75 million from the company.
October 2010: Stephen Wilce resigned as chief scientist for the New Zealand Defence Force after a TV3 investigation revealed he had fabricated his CV. Reference checking failed to uncover he had previously been dismissed from another company for poor performance.
October 2010: Filipino-born Julia Jose was sentenced to seven months detention, 200 hours community service and ordered to pay full reparation after being convicted of defrauding her employer, the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce, of $54,000. The former finance manager didn't have the qualifications claimed, including an MBA. Source: Personal Verification Ltd
About the Author: Matthew Tukaki is the Editor of Entrehub.org and the former regional head of the world’s oldest employment company, Drake International.
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