The Truth Always Comes Out And It Almost Never Works Out Well

Robin Judson |

It was such a disappointment!  We sent the resume of this great analyst, call him Joe Smith, to one of our clients, ABC Hedge Fund.  Joe completed a two year analyst program, top of his class, at a well-regarded investment bank.  He then spent two years at a private equity fund where he worked on three closed investments.

There was a love fest going on.  They all thought about investing the same way.  My client saw Joe as a great cultural fit too.  Junior staff really liked him.  Joe nailed the personality test and the case study.  They knew a lot of the same people and not only did the formal references check out well, the backdoor references were even stronger.  Joe signed the consent form for the background check and waited for the approval to submit his resignation.

About ten days later, we received a call from our client.  There was a problem with the background check.  Joe’s resume showed that his undergraduate GPA was 3.62; his SATs were 1510.  The background check showed a GPA of 3.41 and SATs of 1330.  Our client was not concerned with the actual numbers.  He was upset that Joe falsified information on his resume.  It was a small lie but how could they trust him?  We called Joe to tell him.

Joe admitted that he purposely boosted his scores because he was afraid that his real scores were not strong enough to land interviews with the funds we represent.  He may have been correct but we thought he was terrific and we would have pushed hard to win him an interview.  Instead, he lost out on a role that would have been a great fit, we could not work with him again and our client and the staff there viewed him as less than honest.

There was an even worse story many years ago.  We placed a San Francisco- based candidate named Alan in a bank job in New York.  He had a new baby at home and his wife stayed behind to pack and oversee the sale of their house.  Alan quit his old job and started the new job before the background check came through at the client’s insistence.  At that time, the internet could not be relied on for personal information and the background checks took weeks to complete.

Six weeks later, we received a call from HR that a one year period of unemployment a few years earlier had actually been two years and Alan had altered his start and end dates for the adjacent jobs.  HR and the hiring managers at the bank were so happy with Alan and his work that if he would account for that year, he could remain in his new job anyway.  He refused to explain the gap and the bank fired him.  He ended up unemployed and had to return to San Francisco.  Fortunately he had not yet sold his house.  I never found out what that gap was but the whole thing broke my heart.  I was sick over it but it was his fault.

It is shocking how often we find that resumes include purposely-inaccurate information.  Sometimes, it’s the completion of a degree or obtaining a professional license.  We have even seen candidates who worked at the original Chase Manhattan Bank (prior to the acquisition of JP Morgan) claim that they worked at JP Morgan.

I choose to believe that at least some of these “errors” are due to naiveté and not character flaws.  At some point, the truth comes out and it almost never works out well.

If you found this article helpful you might also want to check out, “How Traders in Investment Banking Are Escaping Trading


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