What do David Geffen, founder of DreamWorks Studios, Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s former CEO, Sandra Baldwin, the first woman to become president and chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, and David Tovar, former Vice President of communications at Walmart, have in common?

They’ve all held high ranking positions with prestigious organizations. And they’ve all lied on their resumes.

What’s even more shocking is that they’re not alone. More news stories than ever surface each year about high profile executives lying about some aspect of their resume.

Oftentimes it’s about education – the degree attained or the school attended. Other times, though, it’s a lie about experience.

Take Robert Irvine, the former star of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible, for instance. He was caught over-stating his work history and lost his television show as a result. He stated he created Princess Diana’s wedding cake, among other falsehoods. The truth was he helped select some of the fruit that decorated it.

How can this happen?

Unfortunately, many hiring committees simply take senior-level candidates at their word. They don’t feel the need to vet the details as they would for other potential employees.

But considering what’s at stake, it’s even more important to verify the credentials of executive candidates. Not only can resume lies hurt morale and productivity when the person resigns, but they also negatively impact a company’s reputation.

Don’t think executives should be above the standard verification process. Instead, with every senior-level candidate you’re considering hiring, be sure to:

  • Check all credentials, including education and employment, to identify any false information or misstatements. For education, the best way to verify degrees is to ask the candidate to request a transcript be sent to you. The transcript should arrive directly from the school’s registrar in a sealed envelope.
  • Conduct a news search about the individual that covers both free and subscription-based sources.
  • Conduct both federal and state litigation searches for any legal claims, including civil and criminal, made against the candidate.
  • Interview former staff, colleagues and supervisors not offered as a reference by the candidate.
  • Hire a firm to conduct a formal background check.

The lesson here is that it’s imperative that you thoroughly check credentials and backgrounds for every candidate, including senior ones. If you don’t, you could be putting your company and its reputation at risk.

If you’d like help vetting executive level candidates, call Pacific ExecSearch. As one of Sacramento’s top executive search firms, we can help you with the entire process, from sourcing top quality candidates to verifying credentials and conducting background checks. Simply contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.