I wonder if the misfortune of former head of Immigration Mary Anne Thompson has caused anyone to go scurrying to their CV to clarify or even delete some of its more dubious claims.
Who knows what lurks out there in the employment files of senior executive land but my guess is that a tissue of fictions and fabrications awaits any forensic gumshoe armed with only with a computer and a telephone.
For all their lip service to correct procedure, double-checking is patently not something our civil service - nor, I imagine, our corporate sector - seems much good at. Thompson's case is salutary.
She isn't accused of merely inflating a minor qualification or claim to have had slightly more responsibility than was strictly true in a former job.
According to the august institution itself, she appears to have invented a whole PhD from the London School of Economics.
A doctorate from the LSE is somewhat more marketable than a certificate of competence in the 25 yards breaststroke, I'm sure we're all agreed, yet in all such cases the scale of the claim seems to exist in inverse proportion to the time spent corroborating it.
There is a long and dishonourable history in New Zealand of shams and shysters beating legitimate contenders for highly sought after positions and I'm indebted here to the work of an outfit called Personal Verification Ltd, which specialises in background recruitment checks, the personal equivalent of the corporate due diligence process.
PVL's website lists several recent cases of CV fraud, including the company director jailed for forging university qualifications, the phony acupuncturist hired over the internet, the police recruit hired from Britain who had falsified his application and the convicted fraudster employed on the recommendation of a recruitment agency to run a district council IT department.
To which can be added, just from memory, the fraudster who waffled his way into running Maori TV, the fabulist who pretended he was out to buy TVNZ, the transsexual shrink who ran amok in Nelson and any number of dodgy cowboys pretending to be qualified tradesmen outed by shows such as Fair Go and Target.
Overseas it's endemic too.
My favourite recent example is the pretend Qantas engineer who was clearing four flights a day for a year despite having forged his aircraft maintenance engineer's licence (a story that broke unreassuringly just before I boarded a plane for Sydney).
Australia also offers the example of the former federal and state judge who not only perjured himself over a $77 speeding ticket (claiming he'd lent the car to a friend who, it turned out, was dead), but was subsequently shown to have bought a PhD and a doctor of laws degree from two notorious "degree mills" in the US.
The tendency to exaggerate is all too human and the CV is one of those documents just begging for a gussy-up.
Who hasn't looked at their academic record and employment history on paper and felt a little deflated?
How much better you'd look to that prospective employer - or even in the mirror - if that BA had an "hons" next to it or that past position could be massaged to look a little more managerial and little less menial.
Truth be told, if anyone cared to dig into the odd study or job application from my distant past they might uncover an embellishment or two.
Nothing very serious, your honour, just a tweak here and there that made me appear slightly less wet behind the ears than I really was. A little clemency, please.
Once I got up onto that first rung of the career ladder I never felt the need again, perhaps because in this business you leave a rather publicly verifiable trail anyway.
But having been a "manager" in past incarnations I am still occasionally rung by agencies and workplaces as a referee for old colleagues seeking new employment.
This always strikes me as nonsense, too. Assuming the person has gained my permission to be named as a referee, am I really then about to describe them as lacking initiative, poor at working in teams, having no discernable leadership qualities and possibly dishonest to boot?
The estimate that possibly half of all CVs contain figments of the author's imagination shouldn't surprise anyone.
That they're not treated with enormous scepticism as a matter of course, however, is. I put it down to the cult of "human resources" in general.
The good old job interview and gut instinct has been turned into a cross between a pseudo-science, complete with ludicrous "psychometric" profiling tests, and a mutual bragging session.
You can hear it in the voices of successful top executives - the default boasting about why they'll be good for this or that business or enterprise, the boundless hubris behind the firm handshake.
It's become a handicap to show humility or allow for the possibility that you may need to learn on the job.
What's the odd non-existent PhD in a business world built for shameless egomaniacs and self-promoters?
Little wonder CV preparation (read inflation) has become an industry in its own right.
Maybe if as much time was spent checking the boasts as manufacturing them, episodes such as the current unpleasantness in Immigration might be avoided.
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