Fake references have long plagued employers and now it’s about become even harder to discern potential company superstars from career wannabes, as American business CareerExcuse looks set to expand to Australia.
CareerExcuse markets itself as the only true site “offering one-on-one personalised job reference services”, where job seekers can pay to have a fake reference and even create your own pretend company, website and LinkedIn page.
It’s common knowledge people often embellish certain aspects of their career, experience or skills in their CVs and now it seems CareerExcuse is looking to capitalise on this behaviour, making it more difficult for employers to know what is and isn’t the truth.
CareerExcuse even goes so far as to have the fake business appear on Google Maps.
The site was first founded by William Schmidt in 2009 after losing his job and helping his friends to write job references.
Starting more as a hobby, the business quickly established a strong clientele and, according to its website, aims to “allow job seekers with long gaps in their resume, fired, or left without notice, which marks them as ‘ineligible for rehire’ stigma” to find work.
In an interview with The Daily Dot, Schmidt said he received multiple requests within 24 hours of launching.
“Yes, there’s a moral issue in fibbing on your résumé to land a job, but that’s for people to deal with themselves,” he says.
“In today’s environment with rampant unemployment, everyone’s looking for an edge. Our service gets them the interview.”
Now Australian employers will need to be on the lookout for CareerExcuse created businesses, as according to the company’s website, it’s looking to expand: “We are in need of several reference providers on the west coast of the USA and Canada, as well as in Australia and the UK.”
HR Coach managing director Peter McCleary told SmartCompany research has shown up to 90% of people have lied on their CV.
“These days employers need to remember there are other sources of information where they can reconcile someone’s CV, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn, particularly in the white collar space, is an easy tool to verify someone’s CV,” he says.
“The other aspect to consider, as well as people lying about the qualifications or experience, is they can drop stuff out of their CV which they don’t want to display. But bizarrely people are less likely to lie on LinkedIn.”
In 2010 a survey from finance recruitment group Robert Half revealed 61% of professionals in finance, accounting and HR had exaggerated their job histories during interviews and in Western Australia lying in CVs can result in a $5000 fine.
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McCleary says employers need to go “back to basics” to ensure a job seeker is genuinely fit to do a role.
“When you conduct an interview you test the person on what they know and ask them to give explanations,” he says.
“Go back to the basics of behavioural interviews where you get people to provide you with answers. You can also give them a job or an exercise to do for 30 minutes and see how they go. Some people will be able to do it, others will be dead in the water if they don’t have the skills.”
If the possible employee passes the interview, don’t rely on the contact information for references provided by the job seeker, McCleary says.
“Go to the organisation and ring through to the reception and ask to speak to the referee, don’t rely on the number you’ve been given,” he says.
“If people are getting sharper about lying on their CVs, then it will also be up to employers to monitor them closely in their first month of employment. This is why there are probationary periods.”
McCleary says if an employee can be forgiven for mistakes in their first month, by the second month they should be starting to deliver and if they’re not up to scratch by the third month “alarm bells should be sounding”.
“If they’re no good in probation, then they’ll never be good enough,” he says.
“Equally, if an employee seems too good to be true on a CV, they probably are. Don’t fall for the halo – it becomes a choker around your neck later.”