I recently read an interesting article that should concern recruiters. It described a unique and controversial service currently available to job seekers – a fake job reference service. Websites such as CareerExcuse.com allow job seekers the opportunity to sign up for a service that will provide fake employment references or confirm fraudulent previous employment, thus providing candidates with no references or poor tenure a backdoor entry into the workforce. Judging from the tone of the comments that readers posted in reply to this article, it is obvious that most people’s reaction to this type of deception is disgust. My reaction, however, is somewhat different. I feel that the problem is not with the controversial service being offered, but rather the unfortunate circumstances that are leading many job seekers to resort to such an underhanded tactic.
Let’s face it, this is America – the land of opportunity. If there is an opportunity to make money, someone will find it and exploit it, regardless of whether or not it’s honest or moral. Are you really surprised that a business exists in order to profit off the sale of false information? Ever seen the show American Greed on CNBC? The entire series is based upon people’s unscrupulous behavior in the pursuit of money. In this case, we’re talking about a business providing a service that is not illegal. Is it dishonest? I guess it depends on who you ask. I’m sure the company’s founders would say they are simply giving job seekers an extra boost in order to help them get back on their feet – and probably making a decent living while doing it.
Despite the deception, I can’t place all the blame on CareerExcuse.com. Whether it be today’s suffering economy or poor hiring practices, something is causing job seekers to reach the point of desperation. On June 6th, American Airlines announced plans to cut an estimated 1,400 management and support jobs by this summer. The same day, Pfizer announced that they plan to cut jobs due to the Lipitor patent expiration. Two days later, Logitech announced they will be eliminating an estimated 450 positions to save $80 million. These announcements occurred within a 48-hour period. Now consider that for those who work a 5-day work week, in any given year, there are 130 48-hour periods. Obviously, lay-offs of this magnitude won’t happen every 48 hours. However, these numbers were taken from a weekly employment newsletter, and every week, there will be more lay-offs announced. Of course, there are companies that are hiring as well, and a percentage of those who get laid off will immediately re-enter the workforce. But considering the number of companies that are downsizing, the competition for jobs continues to grow. And out of that competition comes survival of the fittest – those who are willing to do whatever they have to in order to get that next paycheck, whether it be ethical or not.
I’m sure a lot of job seekers feel that if they could just get their foot in the door of a company, they could prove that they are fast learners and hard workers and are worthy of employment at the company. Now, I am by no means recommending that job seekers use deceptive tactics to secure employment. Honesty is always the best policy when providing information to a prospective employer. However, I feel it is important to try to understand why some candidates feel the need to resort to these actions in their job search. Unfortunately, desperate times call for desperate measures, and when faced with lay-offs or cut-backs and bills are piling up, honesty alone doesn’t put food on the table.
Always Check References
Despite the occasional candidate that just needs that extra boost to transition back into the working world, I’m fully aware that these fake job reference services will mainly be utilized by job seekers who are not at all qualified for the jobs for which they’re applying. But the way I see it, the cream will rise to the top. Those candidates who get hired for a position for which they are truly unqualified will not keep the job long. The issue at hand is that recruiters must now step up their game in order to prevent these unqualified candidates from obtaining the positions for which they’re not a good fit. Resumes should be scrutinized for unexplained gaps in employment, an inability to explain reasons for leaving jobs or suspicious periods of self-employment. Background checks should be performed, and the results compared to those on applicants’ resumes. Finally, references should always be checked, including calling employer phone numbers found online to ensure the references provided on applicants’ resumes are legitimate.
In the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Jean Girard told Ricky Bobby, “God needs the devil. The Beatles needed the Rolling Stones. Even Diane Sawyer needed Katie Couric.” Maybe recruiters need these fake job reference services. Recruiting is repetitious, sometimes monotonous by nature. These services remind us that we can’t get careless or complacent. Each job search is a new challenge, and fake job reference services are merely a new hurdle in the race to the finish line.
John Feldmann’s Bio:
John Feldmann is a Sourcing Analyst for Insperity Recruiting Services in Houston, TX. He has more than 5 years of copywriting and editing experience in the advertising industry, and 5 years of recruiting and sourcing experience in such industries as real estate, construction, engineering, accounting and healthcare. He currently specializes in recruitment ad development.