$50 job history: The Career Excuse home page vows to create 'attention-grabbing' references.

$50 job history: The Career Excuse home page vows to create 'attention-grabbing' references. Photo: Luke Higgs

Everyone does it, right? Spicing up a CV to impress an employer and land that big job. Some would say it’s all part of the game, just as long as you don’t get caught. 

It appears Andrew Flanagan did get caught. The now former Myer executive was sacked on his first day at work on Tuesday after allegations he fudged his resume, listing jobs he never held.

Myer has delayed its traditional half-yearly clearance

Myer was left red-faced yesterday when it sacked 'top recruit' Andrew Flanagan over his resume. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Recruiters say the rise of LinkedIn and the difficulty checking some people's references has made it harder to ensure someone's employment history stacks up. 

Morgan Consulting managing director Andrew Aston said it was expected some people would take a bit of “poetic licence” with their CV.

However he said it was important for recruiters to follow through and ensure the embellishment did not go further.

“Often, it’s not what they write but what they don’t write. They might omit a stint where they weren’t successful,” he said. 

He said the high-profile Myer case was a “rookie mistake” where it appeared that neither the recruitment company or the retailer had not done its due diligence. 

“I am flabbergasted that employers and recruiters don’t spend enough time checking references,” he said.

“They meet a candidate, they fall in love with them and before you know it they've hired them. Checking references becomes a rubber stamp. That’s a disaster.”

There are many tricks available to those who want to bluff their way into a big job. One website in the US called Career Excuse offers a “truly customised” fake referee answering service which will providing glowing endorsements to employers.

For $50, the company will create a fake website, local phone number and professional business address to make things look legitimate. According to its website, Career Excuse is seeking to expand into Australia.

The rise of LinkedIn has also provided people the chance to improve their job history and make their CV appear better than it is. 

Mr Aston said recruiters often Googled someone to “suss them out”, but said he was very wary of relying on LinkedIn for factual information.

He said the LinkedIn endorsement feature lacked weight and credibility compared to real references.

“LinkedIn has given us great access to candidates but has provided an opportunity for them to bend the truth and gild the lily,” he said.

Our HR Company managing director Margaret Harrison said many people “added colour” to their resume and it was “human nature” to talk up achievements.

However, she did not think people fabricated jobs on their CV.

“Someone might write on their CV that they had a major role when they actually had a minor role or add an extra year of experience,” she said. 

Privacy laws are seen as blocking some recruiters from digging deeper into someone's job history, as they are obliged to only call the references listed by the job seeker.

Herbert Smith Freehills special counsel Karman Tsoi, an expert in privacy laws, said recruiters would need to let someone know they are going outside the listed references.

He said there was also an obligation to ensure information provided about someone was correct and up to date. 

“If you’re getting information that might be used against someone, then you would have to take steps to let that person know,” he said.