What leaps to mind when someone mentions resume fraud? A high-profile executive that is fired in disgrace after lying about the college degrees they never obtained? While that still happens, the newer resume fraud occurs when a jobseeker steals content, often just copying and pasting information from someone else’s resume. Blogs abound with stories of a shocked poster who comes across their resume online with someone else’s name on it, virtually word for word. It is particularly rampant in the IT industry, where shady offshore recruiting firms copy US resumes for their clients to make them more marketable in America.
It doesn’t end there though. Just as common are cases of unsuspecting job seekers that send their resume to co-workers, friends, and family for “their opinion.” This makes it very easy for the recipients to use the resume as their own if the occasion arises. Imagine a peer at work who has the same title and worked on the same projects with you over several years, there would probably be a lot of crossover in duties. Even so, would you feel comfortable with them using your resume, especially if you paid for it to be professionally written by a resume writer?
I recall an HR Director who wanted me to coach him on his interviewing skills. He told me the “secret” to his “great” resume. He just keyword searched resumes in his company’s database, pulled out ones he liked that closely matched his skills, and pasted together the document. When I questioned his ethics, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “it’s common practice.”
If that isn’t enough of an insult to job seekers, there has also been an uptick in resume piracy. This is when unscrupulous recruiters pull resumes off job boards or the internet, then send them out to companies without the job seekers knowledge or permission. This, along with identity theft resulting from information stolen off resumes, leads to a host of problems that could merit a whole other article.
What can you do? Here are some suggestions to reduce the odds of becoming a victim of resume theft:
- Protect your document before submitting it online or sending via email. A PDF is the most difficult to copy, and the first choice for sending via direct email. Not all job boards accept PDF, so use a protected word document in that case. It can still be copied, but at least it adds a layer of difficulty.
- Make sure your resume has many achievements specific to you. If someone is thinking of trying to steal your content, achievements are more difficult to justify in an interview, and they may think twice.
- Don’t put your drivers license or social security numbers, date of birth, or marital status on your resume.
- Create a new email to be used only for your job search, so you don’t corrupt the personal email you want to maintain. You will know anything suspicious that comes to this address is a result of your posting your resume, and will be easier to track.
- Avoid submitting your resume for a “free resume critique.” Many of these services are unscrupulous and don’t provide useful advice to really improve your resume, and you don’t know how they will use your resume after you submit it.
- Limit your open job board postings. I know it sounds heretical to someone in the midst of a job search, but when you realize the majority of jobs are never posted online, the odds for success are low anyway. Spend your time networking and selectively sending out your resume, instead of competing with 100’s of job seekers for an online position that may already have an internal candidate lined up to fill it.
- If a job posting has a vague or poorly written description, avoid it.
Treat your resume as you would any of your valuable identity papers. Doing so will limit your chances of being a resume theft victim, and protect your hard-earned career history from aiding someone else in getting the position you deserve.
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