Nice CV, shame about the facts

The story came out recently about Ruther Ferraro, who swindled her employers out of #90,000. She had become the finance manager of a company by lying about her abilities. Although she possessed only one ‘O’ level and had no accountancy qualifications, she concocted a CV that was good enough to land her the #64,000 job.

A few years back, one Andrew Rooke became operations manager for a German bank by claiming to be a chartered accountant, with seven ‘A’ levels as well as actuarial and tax qualifications – none of which was true. It was alleged that he had attempted to defraud the bank of #1m before fleeing to Russia.

How many organisations fail to check potential employees’ qualifications and previous jobs? I would like to be able to carp on about how naive some interviewers must be – but I can’t. I know only too well what it is like to be taken in.

I was a newly appointed partner and needed a tax manager. A candidate arrived looking like a really smart professional woman. Her CV was excellent: she had had several good positions with some of the leading accountancy firms, had steadily progressed and had qualified with the Institute of Taxation.

Her reasons for changing jobs were logical and plausible. She spoke enthusiastically about helping clients, about how she much she enjoyed working out tax problems and how important it was to develop staff.

I rang her former employers and a quite different picture emerged. She had spent no more that a few months at each post, either being fired or leaving of her own volition. She had missed out from her CV a number of other jobs.

Most people I contacted spoke with a shudder about the damage she had inflicted on their practices.

‘Don’t let her inside your office,’ offered one aggrieved partner. ‘She’s a nightmare.’

It was a great lesson for me. We need to give deceivers and defrauders credit for their skills. Never believe what you see. Check the facts.

Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and conference speaker

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