College Graduate Learns Painful Lesson About Resume Fraud

Nick Fishman


It’s 1998, and a young naive kid in the sports marketing industry is asked to clean up his recently departed boss’ office. While he wasn’t thrilled about this “cush” assignment, he liked his now-former boss and wanted to make sure to send him anything he might have left behind in his rushed exit. Not to mention that there was some cool sports memorabilia that would look good in the kid’s cubicle.

One Man’s Treasure is Another Man’s Employee File?

Most of what was left were old file folders. Perhaps this wasn’t such a rushed exit after all. As he dug through the file folders, a spiral bound presentation caught his eye. It was a psychological assessment conducted on his soon to be new boss, a woman he had been working closely with for a while and someone he admired and respected a great deal. Well, this should be fun.

He opened it up and what he saw deeply disturbed him. Well, in truth, it was only one small section of the report, but that was all it took.

The report indicated that when his new boss was hired by the company a few years before, she indicated that she had graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1988. When the assessment company went to verify the degree, the university said that they had no record of her graduating (by the way, why was an assessment company doing this?). They confronted her about this and she said that it was filed not under her full name, but under her first initial. They went back to the university and found out that her brother, who had the same first initial, had indeed graduated in 1988. And while this new boss had attended UW, she never graduated.

The assessment actually referred to his new boss as a pathological liar and someone with questionable character. Clearly, those facts were’t damning enough to the company (she obviously got hired anyway). If only they could have jumped into their time machine, set the flux capacitor to 2014 and downloaded our latest article article, HR’s Guide to Resume Verification.

So how did our young hero react? He was mortified by what he saw. How could he work for this woman that committed resume fraud in order to get the job, let alone respect or admire her? He considered quitting, which might have been the smart thing to do, but instead worried that he might not find another job in the same field. And of course, he worried that he couldn’t afford to quit.  So here’s what he did.  He lost all respect for his new boss. He wouldn’t confront her about it because clearly, he wasn’t supposed to have seen what he saw, but he just mailed in his performance. After a few months, he just decided that he couldn’t ignore it and decided it was time to find a new job.

One Lie Changes a Career?

What a coincidence that just six months later, he ran into an old friend that had an idea to start a background screening company. He was immediately drawn to the business model and figured this just might be a good way to make a living. But of course, he was young and stupid, so he just made a token investment in the company and decided to start his own marketing agency. Well, employment background checks took off and the marketing business was YAWN!!! So in 2003, the kid joined the company full time.

The stupid kid in this story is me and the background screening company is, of course, EmployeeScreenIQ.

My first encounter with resume fraud left me so disgusted with the fact that people would actually lie to get a job, that I knew I had found my true calling. It just took me four years to realize it.

So what happened to the boss?

Nothing for about a year until she left the company . . . with a couple of their flagship clients.

EmployeeScreenIQ finds that 50% of the candidates we screen have some type discrepancy of their resume. Not only should you verify education and past employment, but you should consider whether the lies that you find might foreshadow future behavior.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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