U.S. Congressman’s lies have everyone talking about CV embellishments: here’s what to watch for

The sheer scope of New York Congressman George Santos’ lying is breathtaking, even in what has been described as a “post-truth” era rife with “alternative facts”. The Republican politician has been caught out in a series of lies that have made headlines all over the world, including Australia and New Zealand.

The list is too long to cover here, but the most blatant embellishments include his CV, where Santos claimed he had worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, even bragging about doubling revenue for a department from $US300 million to $600 million. Both companies issued statements denying any knowledge of Santos. Then there’s his education: Santos falsely claimed that he graduated from New York University and Baruch College with a degree in finance and economics. Other lies have surfaced concerning Santos’ property ownership, campaign finance, donations to charity, ethnic background and other odd claims such as his false statement that his mother died in the September 11 Trade Centre attacks (she didn’t).

While it’s alarming that someone can so brazenly lie their way into a position of power (Santos was sworn in despite the revelations), the good news is that his actions have put the importance of truth in CVs back into newspaper headlines all over the world. Another common observation is the apparent haplessness of his party’s vetting process, which somehow missed such a long list of falsehoods. The other side of American politics (the Democrats) somehow missed the opportunity to call Santos’ resumé into question during the campaign for the New York House seat.

The clear takeaway from the Santos saga is that everything on a CV should be independently verified.

Here are some of the most common embellishments we’ve seen in resumés that have been reviewed by CVCheck:

1. Fabricated employment history

There are many ways to fabricate an employment history and believe us – we’ve seen them all. Here are the top ways.

  • Falsely claiming to have worked at an organisation: Employers are impressed by candidates with experience from leading companies, but every claim should be checked. There are plenty of scammers on LinkedIn with “ex-Google”, “ex-Amazon”, or “ex-Tesla” next to their names who are banking on the fact that no one will bother checking the truth of these claims.
  • Dates employed: Candidates may inflate employment dates by months or even years in an effort to look more experienced than they are. They may also stretch dates to hide an employment gap or to conceal evidence of job-hopping. People may lie about the nature of their employment; for example, claiming they were a full-time employee when they were only casual.
  • Exaggeration of accomplishments or job performance: Candidates are often encouraged to add their key accomplishments under each of their job titles, but it’s important to avoid getting too creative. Claiming you single-handedly drove your organisation’s digital transformation or achieved hard-to-believe sales figures will raise a red flag for employers.
  • Fabricated job titles: There are several ways to fabricate a job title. Some candidates may simply add an adjective such as “senior”, “executive” or “strategic” to their title to create a false perception of seniority. Others may find creative-sounding ways to make their job sound a lot more impressive, while others will completely make up a job title, claiming to have experience in a role they’ve never had.
  • Reason for leaving: If you’re uncomfortable about revealing the reason for leaving a previous employer (perhaps you were fired), it’s better to leave this information off your CV than to lie about it, as this can be checked.

How we check someone’s employment history:

CVCheck’s Employment Verification Check will verify an individual’s employment history directly with the employer’s HR – or a suitable person if there’s no HR. Known as a pre-employment screening, this reference check is commonly used in Australia by individuals and employers to verify information on a CV.

Our employment history check will verify the following details:

  • Name of organisation the individual was employed by
  • Dates employed
  • Nature of employment (full time, part time, casual, contract etc)
  • Last position held
  • Reason for leaving.

2. Education, certifications and licenses

It’s tempting to lie on a CV about education, certifications and licenses to improve your chances of landing a job, but it isn’t worth the risk. Common lies include:

  • Falsely claiming to have attended a university or other educational institution (TAFEs, Registered Training Organisations, Private Colleges).
  • Falsely claiming to have attained qualifications, licences or certificates.

How we check someone’s education, certification and licence history

A Qualification Check will verify if an individual holds a qualification or trade certificate directly with the issuing organisation and will obtain the following details:

• Individual’s name the qualification or certificate is held in
• Name of the issuing organisation or institution
• Name of the qualification or certificate obtained
• Date the qualification or certificate was obtained.

This check provides employers with the confidence to make better hiring decisions by confirming that the individual they’re looking to recruit holds a relevant qualification or certificate.

The same approach applies with other key checks such as VEVO Visa and Work Entitlement, Police Checks, or Traffic and Licence Checks – CVCheck’s approach is always to check directly with the issuing organisation.

Don’t risk it

Make sure you don’t hire the next George Santos. Get in touch with CVCheck today for fast, accurate pre-hiring checks that are matched to your needs.

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