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Stretching the Truth

By June 13, 2012Newsletters

Last month, Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson resigned under pressure due to an “overstatement” of his qualifications – he claimed to have a degree in computer science that he did not actually have. As Yahoo struggles to find its third CEO in less than three years, we would like to shed some light on the issue of lying on resumes and in interviews. At CMF, our executive recruitment team has been seeing more resume “overstatements,” mostly in these three categories:

  1. Omission of short-term positions, including fudging dates of employment to make it seem as if one has been continuously employed
  2. Inaccurate use of key words – SEO and computer applications put pressure on the candidate to fill their resume with key words, even if they don’t accurately represent a candidate’s experience
  3. Influence of personal branding coaches, who encourage candidates to stretch the facts on their resumes and put the candidate in the best possible light

We mitigate these issues by following a structured recruitment process that includes:

  • Repetitive interview questions – we base our interview questions on activity and experience and repeat them multiple times – during preliminary phone interviews, in person, and during reference checks – to make sure the answers are consistent
  • Aggressive listening – we listen intently in order to develop more incisive, probing questions as the interview process progresses
  • Reference checks – our recruiters probe references the same way they probe candidates. Reference checking is not a perfunctory activity – job and experience omissions are often found by interviewing references!
  • Credit checks – our candidates authorize us to obtain their credit report. If a candidate can’t manage his or her own financial affairs, we don’t want them managing yours.

Overall, CMF’s standard is total honesty, with zero tolerance for exaggeration or omission in our search for high-ranking financial executives. This principle-based recruitment approach, applied thoroughly and consistently, generally leads to legitimate “yahoo” moments for both candidates and companies.

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