By ELLEN READ
Remember John Davy - the former Maori Television chief executive? Recruited for the top job by an employment agency, he was later found to have lied on his CV. He served three months in prison for fraud.
While most people don't embellish their CVs to the extent Davy did, it's estimated that around a third of us are a bit wide of the mark when it comes to the facts we give prospective employers.
But a new service from an Auckland recruitment specialist aims to solve that problem.
Therese McNaughten set up Wholeoranges Consulting in May last year after 18 years in the recruiting world both here and in London. The firm offers career advice and a recruitment service.
Before stepping out on her own she did extensive research to find out what was missing in the industry.
"I think the only way you can set up a company on your own where there's a lot of competition is to look at what's missing in the field and where things can be improved," she said.
Aside from a need to understand a client's business and to spend time with both companies and those seeking jobs, McNaughten discovered a giant hole when it came to checking the facts on people's CVs.
Most people merely expanded the dates of their employment, but the number of much greater fabrications was rising and that worried companies, she said. Her response has been to team up with private investigator Grace Haden to offer a CV checking service as part of her business. The women do comprehensive background checks on applicants on behalf of employers.
Added to the market research was McNaughten's own personal experience after she noticed a widening gap in the vetting process used by recruitment companies.
"I tried to find a comprehensive investigative service to aid my own company's clients so that I could feel safe and secure about the applicants I was putting forward, but I couldn't find one," she said.
"So the service was born out of need. I located Grace and together we spent time finding out what was missing and researching ways to solve the problem."
The result is the Career Verification Check. The service checks an applicant's identity, employment history, education background, qualifications, immigration status, credit rating, references and criminal history.
A full report is produced for the client which can then be checked against the information supplied by the job seeker.
"It's the part of the process that's been missing," McNaughten said.
She said she had been inundated with inquiries from employers concerned about fraudulent claims in CVs.
McNaughten said a full pre-employment check (different levels range from $300 to $1200) was cheaper than the stress and cost of litigation, the embarrassment of negative publicity, the loss of productivity and the havoc the wrong person could wreak if they turned out to be other than who they claimed.
While up to 85 per cent of businesses perform some background checks on job applicants it does not usually go beyond someone in human resources calling a previous employer or checking a reference.
Even the big recruiting companies did not do comprehensive checks, as shown by the recent public cases, she said.
McNaughten believes that employers need to be more diligent when every candidate is looking for an edge.
The role of former police sergeant Haden is to confirm each fact on a person's CV from independent sources. There were no privacy issues as candidates sign approval when applying for jobs.
"And employers are quite happy to confirm details because it's a reference check," McNaughten said.
She believes the pre-screening service will have a big impact on recruitment and business.
"If a prospective employee knows they will be checked out, I imagine it will rather quickly put the brakes on creative CV writing," she said.
Although the checks performed so far had come from private referrals, McNaughten said the big recruitment companies had expressed an interest in her service.
If business takes off as planned, she will employ more consultants to work alongside her (after checking their CVs, of course).
She already has a part-time administration manager to help her keep the home office running smoothly.