Sacked: Andrew Flanagan.

Sacked: Andrew Flanagan.

The smooth-talking American must have wowed the group of 35 business students who had gathered to hear him reveal his tips on how to talk your way into a job paying six figures.

They were there for an intern recruitment boot camp, put on by the University of Melbourne Business School, and keen to know all the tricks of the trade.

Making the presentation was Jeff Flanagan: executive recruiter, MBA holder, conman.

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Little did the audience know that the speech, titled ''The realities of getting a job through a recruiter'', would foreshadow one man's effort to bluff his way into boardrooms across the country.

Andrew Flanagan, also known as Jeffrey Flanagan, has emerged as a master of deception with enough bravado to convince retail giant Myer to give him a job as a senior executive, despite having no credentials.

He was sacked on his first day at Myer after it was revealed he had falsified his CV, providing references for roles he never held. Behind him are a string of similar deceptions employed to win lucrative high-profile jobs.

Back in 2008, Mr Flanagan managed to snare a job at Carmichael Fisher, an Australian executive search firm, before he was sacked after just two months for being misleading about his job history.

Carmichael Fisher executive director Jamal Khan remembers Mr Flanagan as a ''convincing salesman'' who quickly began using his role to gain access to senior executives.

''Very quickly, once he joined, something wasn't right. All the stuff he said, it just didn't stack up,'' he says. ''The reality was there was no substance. It was obvious that a number of the things he had said about his past were untrue and I let him go quickly.''

It was while working at Carmichael Fisher that Mr Flanagan gave his presentation to students at the University of Melbourne Business School intern boot camp.

''The power of a personal recommendation or endorsement carries more weight than a well-crafted application,'' he told students.

Perhaps it was this advice that he used years later to land a gig at Myer so plum that chief executive Bernie Brookes announced his appointment to the ASX. By all accounts, Mr Flanagan was impressive. His CV was excellent, listing senior roles at a number of major retailers, including Spanish fashion giant Zara's head company Inditex Group and Tesco's China operation.

During the interview process he was also a standout and appeared to know his stuff. Those who have dealt with Mr Flanagan say he is intelligent, personable and has a way with words.

It took one phone call from Inditex Group to blow Mr Flanagan's cover. The company revealed Mr Flanagan had never worked for the company; his referee confirming the position was a sham. What has since become apparent is that this is not the first time Mr Flanagan has falsified his job history.

A short-lived stint as CEO of the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry came to a crashing halt earlier this year when the board started to question his credentials.

He claimed to have been the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia but this has since been shown to be false.

In another case, he was sacked from a senior role at Bendigo Health in 2011 after just two months for ''inappropriate behaviour''.

Bendigo Health acting chief executive Andrew Collins says Mr Flanagan was a smooth talker who impressed the board enough to be made executive director of organisation development and improvement. ''He didn't fit with our values, basically,'' he says.

Perhaps the only thing that's true about Mr Flanagan is his qualifications. He has a joint Juris Doctor and MBA by the University of Melbourne.

The whole matter has left both Myer and the recruiter who put him forward red faced. Until now, Myer is understood to have typically used well-known executive headhunter Egon Zehnder for big hires.

Quest Personnel, the small recruitment agency who put Mr Flanagan forward, operates from the Geelong home of managing director Lorraine Tribe.

The case has attracted widespread interest in how large firms make recruitment decisions. The executive recruitment peak body has described the process run by Myer as ''dreadfully poor''. Ms Tribe has gone to ground and is not answering questions about how she was fooled so comprehensively, dragging in Myer. References given by him were said to check out.

Myer says it did not engage Quest but heard there was someone with ''apparently strong credentials that was in the market for a senior retail position''.

Myer won't reveal what Mr Flanagan would have earned but it's safe to say his pay packet could have reached up to half a million dollars when super and bonuses were included.

Mr Flanagan has not yet spoken about his elaborate scheme. The father of four's last known address is in Mount Waverley, in the heart of Melbourne's eastern suburbs.

In a strange twist, his wife Ena has worked as an electorate officer for Victorian MP Geoff Shaw.

Given Mr Flanagan's history, you wouldn't put it past him to remerge in another industry. But pulling off the same scam won't be easy.

As someone who knew Mr Flanagan put it: ''If you're going to dupe someone, try a small corner shop. Don't take on a billion-dollar company like Myer.''