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Deception for Hire, Why Job Seekers Lie

Deception for Hire, Why Job Seekers Lie

Hiring Tips

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.

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnfeldmann
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/john_feldmann
Insperity: http://www.insperity.com

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15 comments

  1. And the same shuold apply for Job Seekers: scrutinize the prospected Company to see if the interview is for a real opportunity, and not only to extract competitive information from the candidate, or get valuable ideas and experiences for free with an interview that is nothing less than a not-paid consulting discussion. The candidate should also check what chances are there that the company proposes a position that do not conform to the reality: hiding real responsibilities, or citting about real power and authonomy when in place. Not to mention when the company hires prospetting a work/life ballance that do not exists, or a life-long employment that ends after 6 months…

  2. “Vandelay Industries. Art Vandelay speaking…”

  3. While I cannot endorse the incredible lack of integrity involved in using a service like this, we have created an employment system which is completely overrun with false signals.

    I work in a specialized field – pricing and marketing analytics. I have yet to be contacted by a recruiter or hiring manager who actually understands how my team makes money. This job – like many others – isn’t one you learn in school or quickly credential. There are, in fact, many ways to become successful in a pricing or analytics role (data guy, the great communicator, process whiz).

    I am sick and tired of seeing job descriptions asking for math phds with people skills and p&l experience. Because you know what? If that person exists, they should be running a startup as CEO and not in some mid level analytics role. You know what I did instead of getting a phd? I went to go work for the president of a billion dollar division as special projects guy. I had to actually go fix bad deals and underpriced customers. So when I see a problem, I can draw on 20 years of experience fixing similar issues. What is the phd going to do? Wave a copy of his dissertation and scores on the written exam?

    It used to be that people spent more time thinking about a persons capabilities than their credentials. Because that was what got things done. WWII was won by an army of people with no credentials but amazing capability who learned on the job….

    Something to think about….
    john recently posted..Google Analytics – Don’t tell me who visits, tell me who came back!!!!

  4. Those who get a job this way probably won”t last long, wasting everybody’s time including theirs and costing someone else a job.

  5. I asked Dr.Demartini how can I jump into public speaking? he said start telling people you are a professional public speaker, I did and after 2 weeks I was hired and that’s how I became a good speaker and a teacher :))

  6. How does everyone feel about checking references the candidate did not list? There have been times in the past when I have reached out to professionals who I suspect know a potential candidate of mine. The call begins as a legitimate recruiting call, but I’ll embed some information gathering too. “Say… I know you worked with so and so over at Acme while you were there. He was recently recommended to me by a mutual contact. What are your thoughts? Would you consider him a solid candidate?” You’d be surprised at the amount of information people give up. The great thing about this insight is the source has not been coached or asked to give a glowing review.

  7. I think there is a lack of communication between job seekers and recruiters, there is a feeling of “us against them”. Back in 2008 I used to work for the Department of Labor in Pennsylvania. I worked with both job seekers and HR professionals and there is a disconnect. I know this was back in 2008 but from talking to people things haven’t changed much these days, I think if we started treating people like people this kind of deception would not be necessary. If you put yourself in the shoes of a desperate unemployed person trying to feed a family (I am in no way saying lying is correct) you can understand why this kind of service would be an option. This person is thinking starving kids or lying to feed them….
    Karla Campos recently posted..Facebook for WordPress Plugin Features

    • Glad you see my point Karla. Honesty IS the best policy, and fortunately, I’ve never had to lie about references or qualifications on my resume. But I’ve also never been in a position where I wondered where my next meal was coming from. Until one has, it’s difficult to point fingers.

  8. Wow. It’s difficult to even know where to start in responding to this article. I was raised to believe that honesty is the best policy. While it is understandable why a job seeker would leave off a job or reference for a position that he or she would like to forget, inventing references is ridiculous. How about doing your level best at every job you take, full-time or part-time, and building that reference base the old-fashioned way. Just a thought.
    David Burke recently posted..Rules for Fools

  9. When HR understands their role in customer service, some of these practices will begin to wane.
    DrDeadline recently posted..It isn’t easy being green.

  10. It always surprises me what people come up with to make a buck. This should make the HR department even more aware and to really start checking references.

    Maybe if we can get our congress to stop blocking all attempts to get our country moving again, people wouldn’t have to resort to these deceitful tactics.

  11. When companies have policies where they discriminate against someone who is unemployed for a position it is no surprise that a business like this was created.
    David Lee recently posted..Leadership Thought: Great Leaders Embrace Failure

    • I agree David. It’s a shame that some employers would hold current employment status in higher regard than relevant work experience.

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