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Inside the Shady New World of Fake Resumes, Professional Interviewees, and Other Job-Seeker Scams

A few years ago, Daniel Zubairi caught a job applicant in a flagrant lie. The woman’s résumé said she worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That didn’t sound right. Zubairi’s Bethesda, Maryland-based cybersecurity company, SydanTech, worked closely with NOAA–and Zubairi had never heard of her.

As it happened, Zubairi was at the agency’s offices during the woman’s phone interview. He asked to meet her in person. “Sir,” she said, “I’d like to end the interview now.” Click. Zubairi ran a background check. She was a home nursing assistant.

Job seekers have been fudging their accomplishments forever. But founders across the country say they’ve lately seen a surge of incidents that take job-applicant fakery to new–and shadier–levels. Totally false résumés featuring fictional employers. Professional interviewees. Covert coaching of candidates with no experience.

The stories have spread virally among business leaders. A CEO has a suspicious experience. She talks to another CEO, who says he’s heard similar stories. At a meetup of 50 CEOs this past summer, Zubairi shared his story. “Everyone agreed that they’ve seen something to that effect,” says Ahmed R. Ali, founder of the Rockville, Maryland-based Tista Science and Technology Corporation, who was in the room.

Hirer Beware
Tips for weeding out fraudulent job applicants
1. Request references from every applicant.
2. Contact hiring managers at previous employers.
3. Do background checks–expensive but worth it.
4. Ask granular questions about skills and former jobs.
5. Give everyone a skills test.

Zubairi and his peers have identified a growing problem, one that’s been largely unreported. It starts with low unemployment–now at its lowest since 1969. A tight labor market can be especially tricky for fast-growing startups. (SydanTech, No. 78 on this year’s Inc. 5000, certainly qualifies.) An imbalance of available talent and a company’s needs can send a dangerous message: These guys are desperate to fill seats.

Zubairi says he’s now caught multiple applicants in similar lies, and even identified a SydanTech employee who successfully faked his interview and worked at the company for nine months–before being caught and fired. Cybersecurity firms are especially vulnerable: The industry’s unemployment rate has been near zero since 2016. And many of Zubairi’s available jobs pay a minimum of $120,000 per year.

Cybersecurity is far from the only field affected. About the same time as Zubairi’s first encounter, Biju Kurian was in Oklahoma City, running Objectstream, an aviation IT company. (“We make flying safe,” he says.) Objectstream is also growing quickly–No. 2,992 on this year’s Inc. 5000–in a lucrative field with a talent gap. Kurian’s problem:

A woman who’d impressed over the phone had a different voice when she arrived for her first day, and seemed unfamiliar with the conversation they’d had. Eventually, he confronted her. She broke down, confessed, apologized, and quit on the spot.

On the surface, these appear to be candidates taking desperate measures. But the candidates themselves may not be the only ones at fault. As recruitment has migrated online and become automated, says Ben Zhao, a University of Chicago professor who studies online market­places, opportunities for scammers have arisen.

Profes­sional recruiters, who get placement fees when they land candidates in jobs, have a clear incentive to game the system, Zhao says. They are “middlemen who can make significant profit by misrepresenting clients.”

They might hire professional interviewees to do phone interviews, or feed answers to inexperienced candidates in real time. Or they might fake client résumés to make them look better to hiring algorithms–sometimes without telling those clients.

Michael Mathews, founder of Toledo, Ohio-based automotive recruiting firm Moxee, estimates that as many as 20 percent of recruiters are at least dabbling in such tactics. “It doesn’t surprise me anymore,” he says.

Zubairi thinks he’s found a way to screen some fakes. After his CEO meetup, he downloaded résumés submitted to SydanTech through the job site Indeed–and found dozens of near-identical documents. They bore the same formatting, titles, and job descriptions, down to the word. The only differences: the names of the applicants and the companies they claimed to have worked for. (Indeed declined to comment, but Inc. reviewed a selection of these documents.)

One common name on many of the dubious résumés: the Nigbel Group, whose bare-bones website describes it as an IT company in Houston. Zubairi says he’s called its phone number and nobody has ever picked up. Nigbel did not respond to multiple Inc. requests for comment, nor is it listed in the Texas Secretary of State’s database of taxable entities. To Mathews, the company sounds strikingly similar to fictional businesses he’s seen created by other recruiters to help punch up fake résumés.

In an age of digitally driven misinformation, perhaps it’s not surprising that fake job applicants would surge. As with other online-marketplace scams–say, counterfeit goods on Amazon–startups are more vulnerable than larger companies, simply because they have less money for prevention. “Smaller companies that don’t have resources will continue to be defrauded by these attackers,” predicts Zhao. And tech platforms will continue to play catchup with their hijackers.

By: Cameron Albert-Deitch Reporter, Inc. @c_albertdeitch

Source: Inside the Shady New World of Fake Resumes, Professional Interviewees, and Other Job-Seeker Scams

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An unfortunate reality is that of scam artists or con artists, and they can appear when we least expect them. We see con artists depicted in Hollywood movies and TV. We hear of various scams on the news. One type of scam that is becoming more common is the Job Scam. So, how can you identify if a job is legitimate or a scam? Here are my top 8 tips: 1. Immediate Offer – if you are given an offer without as much as an interview. 2. Interview via IM – employers typically conduct interviews, but legitimate employers do not use Instant Messenger to interview. 3. Poor Spelling & Grammar in Job Ad – this refers to obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. 4. E-mail Address – the email address should be professional and include the company name (not Gmail, yahoo, live, etc.). 5. Asks You to Pay – legitimate employers will never ask you to transfer money to them for any reason. 6. Personal Info – this is a tricky one. Although you will need to send your personal details eventually to an employer as per their background check process, be wary of any websites to which you need to upload your personal information. It should be an https address (the “s” stands for secure). 7. Bank Details – again, legitimate employers will need your banking details in order to pay you. Be wary if a prospective employer asks for additional banking information, such as the answers to your security questions or for your PIN number. 8. Intuition – trust your intuition. If you believe a job might be a scam, be sure to proceed with extra caution and do your research! What to do if you Suspect a Job is a Scam? For every role, it is highly recommended that you conduct thorough research on the organization and on the people with whom you will be meeting. That said, some of the savvier scam artists have “borrowed” LinkedIn profiles of legitimate people. Be sure to take note of the LinkedIn profile to see how many connections a person has (i.e. do they have any connections? Is the profile complete?). If you do suspect that you have been contacted by a job scammer, be sure to report it to the local police, or in Canada to the RCMP’s fraud unit. Finally, be sure to share your experience with others and share this video. The more we are aware of these types of scams and are able to help others identify them, all ships will float higher. If you would like personalized advice, you can find me on www.jobhuntsolutions.com or if you have any questions, you can leave a comment below, or contact me here: Email: nicole@jobhuntsolutions.com Website: www.jobhuntsolutions.com Twitter: @ recruitmentcoach LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/job-… Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jobhuntsolut… Until next time, happy hunting!

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A Good Resume Is Not Enough– Five More Things Job Seekers Need To Land A Job Interview

After hiring for thousands of jobs over 20+ years of recruiting, I have seen many different styles of hiring. Sometimes, a company looks at resumes (submitted in response to a job posting or via a recruiting agency), picks a few candidates to interview and hires one person from that process. This is the traditional job search to which too many job seekers tailor all their job search efforts. However, that traditional hiring process is less and less common.

Companies are strapped for time and hiring power, and looking at stacks of resumes takes a lot of resources. I received over 1,000 resumes for a recent HR Director search. Companies know that some of the best talent is gainfully employed and not responding to job postings or even recruiters, so companies need to change their hiring to attract this desired candidate pool. For the most competitive jobs, I am actively building a candidate pipeline even before an opening is finalized.

The net result is that more companies are not selecting candidates from a stack of resumes, but rather identifying them by other means. Relying only on job postings or recruiting relationships to find job openings will not account for all available jobs. Companies are also vetting candidates earlier in the process, well before the first interview. Assuming you only have to drop a resume to get seriously considered will take you out of the running prematurely.

Having a good resume is not enough for today’s job search. Here are five things job seekers also need to land a job interview:

1 – Back door references

Most companies conduct a reference check before they hire someone. Even if you get a job offer, your offer letter might state that is conditional upon receipt of satisfactory professional references. Many job seekers are familiar with this reference check process and prepared to share a list of past supervisors and other professional references (though job seekers are not as prepared with their references as they could be!).

Back door references are different from this reference check process, in that these references are checked before an offer is decided (sometimes even before a first interview is decided). These references are also not supplied by the candidate, but rather dug up by the employer. For example, you list Company X as a former employer on your resume, and I contact a recruiting friend over at Company X to say, “John Smith was referred to me as someone who’s great at branding, and apparently he worked at your place.

Did he do well there?” This is clearly not an in-depth reference, but it’s a pulse check on whether to go any further. I have been involved with searches where my hiring clients would not move forward with any candidate where we couldn’t get at least one positive back door reference.

How would you fare in a back door reference check? Will former colleagues say positive things about you? Will former colleagues even remember you?

2 – Online profile

Even when I worked with Fortune 500, brand-name employers who had a large candidate database in-house, I still relied on LinkedIn research to identify candidates. Remember that employers love passive candidates who are not necessarily looking. These candidates surface because someone recommends them, they are well-known in their industry or they are found online.

Your online profile is not just your LinkedIn profile. It also is your activity, and everything the comes up when you do an Internet search on your name – media mentions, publications, social media activity. I once saw an executive search almost derailed because an internet search brought up a controversial comment by the candidate on a common online community (think Quora or Reddit). Some employers dig deep into your online activity. In addition, if your job or industry entails online activity – e.g., marketing, technology, media – your own online profile and activity is a reflection of your work.

Have you run an Internet search on yourself? Do you have a Google alert on your name? Is your online profile optimized?

3 – Work sample

Your online profile may already include work samples, such as a website you worked on, a report you wrote or a presentation you delivered. If you don’t want to broadcast these so publicly, you should at least have them readily available upon request. More and more employers are asking for a sample of work related to the job opening at hand.

This is partly to shave off time in the hiring process – by looking at samples in advance, employers can make even more cuts before the interview process. Asking for work samples also differentiates candidates who are willing and able to go the extra step to land the job. Candidates unwilling to provide a work sample might not be that interested in the job. Candidates unable to provide a work sample might not have the experience they claim. Better to find out now before investing any more hiring resources into that candidate.

Do you have tangible samples of your work? If you don’t yet have a portfolio of projects you have worked on, start curating now.

4 – Skills test

For a digital marketing job, candidates were sent two sample emails from a direct response campaign and asked to evaluate which was stronger and why. This gave a window into how they might design a direct response email. For a fundraising role, candidates were asked to write an introduction letter to a large donor asking for a meeting. For an executive role to lead a regional office, candidates were asked for a letter of intent to outline their particular interest in the organization.

Unlike the work sample which is something you have already done, the skills test is something completed during the hiring process and directly related to the job opening. Over the years, I have found more and more companies including a test of some kind. Many companies give a test after an initial phone screen, but some companies start with the test before any interviews. Most of these tests don’t take a lot of time, but similar to the work sample, they are effective in weeding out candidates unwilling or unable to go the extra mile.

How would you fare in a skills test for a job or company you want? Do you have the skills to do the job right now? Career changers, you cannot present like you need to learn on the job (a common mistake that career changers make!). Do you know enough about the company to write a letter of intent or outreach to its key customers?

5 – Recorded interview

Even if a company doesn’t ask for any of the above and jumps right to the interview, it still might not be the person-to-person interview you are expecting, but a recorded interview using an online service, such as Big Interview or InterviewStream. With these online services, companies pre-record screening questions and candidates conduct the interview remotely. While this simulates a first-round interview, it still requires extra work on behalf of the candidate.

Video interviews are not the same as live or phone interviews and require different preparation. You will have to learn how to use the specific technology for whatever interview recording platform the employer decides to use. Like a skills test or work sample, you have an extra step to complete before any chance of meeting someone at the company.

Are you prepared for a recorded video interview? For which jobs and companies are you willing to go the extra step?


Companies are asking for more upfront, and you decline at your peril

I once interviewed a marketing candidate who refused to take an Excel-based marketing test that would have taken less than 15 minutes. She said she was insulted to have to take it given her years of marketing experience, but since she initially asked me to send her the test, I wonder if she didn’t think she would do well. Regardless, she didn’t move forward in the process because my client only wanted to look at candidate resumes, along with their marketing test score.

I once recommended a friend to a consulting job, and the hiring company was using a video interview platform and also asked for a letter of interest and work sample. That’s three extra steps, but none of these were particularly hard or time-consuming. Video interviews typically have fewer than 10 questions, if not five.

A letter of interest is a cover letter but focused on interest for that job and company – you should have a template that can be tweaked in short order. Job seekers should always have work samples. Yet my friend refused to comply, stating that if the company were serious about her they would be willing to consider her on her resume alone.

That’s a dare that could cost her an interview. Yes, extra steps take time, but not that much time if you really know the job and want the company – which is precisely why these extra steps are becoming more common. If you are unwilling to go the extra mile, you may not move forward to the interview process.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

As a longtime recruiter and now career coach, I share career tips from the employer’s perspective. My specialty is career change — how to make a great living doing work that you love. My latest career adventures include running SixFigureStart, Costa Rica FIRE and FBC Films. I am the author of Jump Ship: 10 Steps To Starting A New Career and have coached professionals from Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, Tesla, and other leading firms. I teach at Columbia University and created the online courses, “Behind The Scenes In The Hiring Process” and “Making FIRE Possible“. I have appeared as a guest career expert on CNN, CNBC, CBS, FOX Business and other media outlets. In addition to Forbes, I formerly wrote for Money, CNBC and Portfolio.

Source: A Good Resume Is Not Enough– Five More Things Job Seekers Need To Land A Job Interview

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A Google Executive Reviewed More Than 20,000 Resumes–He Found These 5 Stunning Mistakes Over and Over

Laszlo Bock, former senior vice president of people operations at Google–and current CEO and co-founder of Humu–is familiar with the job search grind. He, too, has sent out hundreds of résumés over the course of his career. But more so than most anyone else, Bock has gained unique insight on what a standout résumé looks like.

Bock personally reviewed more than 20,000 résumés within a 15-year span at Google. Although he says he has seen some brilliant résumés, he admits that he has continued to see the same résumé mistakes over and over, which often cost good candidates the chance to get a great position.

If you’re not careful, you’ll undermine your own success by presenting your achievements in a poorly crafted résumé. Here, according to Bock, are five really big mistakes you must avoid.

1. Lack of formatting

A messy and illegible résumé is a résumé that won’t get you anywhere. Keep formatting clean and organized, using black ink on white paper with half-inch margins. Align columns and have consistent spacing. Make sure your name and contact info is on every page–not just the first. If sending your résumé by email or text, save it as a PDF to preserve your formatting–and your hard work.

2. Enclosing confidential information

Pay attention to policies and avoid creating a conflict between employer needs and your own needs as an applicant. For example, if you’re coming from a consulting firm, it is likely that you are not allowed to share client names–so don’t do so on your résumé! Also, even though you don’t mention the client’s name, you might provide a strong hint of who it is you’re referring to. Says Laszlo, “On the résumé, the candidate wrote: ‘Consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.’ Rejected! … While this candidate didn’t mention Microsoft specifically, any reviewer knew that’s what he meant.”

3. Typos

Proofread your résumé multiple times. Have your friends or colleagues proofread your résumé too. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 58 percent of résumés have typos. Be wary of grammatical errors, incorrect alignment, and more–otherwise, a hiring manager will think you don’t pay attention to details. Laszlo suggests this additional pro tip: “Read your résumé from bottom to top: Reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation.”

4. Too long

“A good rule of thumb is one page of résumé for every 10 years of work experience,” explains Bock. Remember, the reason you present a résumé is to get an interview, not to be hired on the spot (although that would be a major plus). Says Laszlo, “Once you’re in the room, the résumé doesn’t matter much. So cut back your résumé. It’s too long.” Craft a concise and focused résumé that prioritizes the most important information. Save the life story for later.

5. Lies

There are a lot of things you could lie about on a résumé, and Bock has seen them all: work experience, college degrees, GPAs, sales results. Once you tell a lie during the hiring process, if it is discovered you will face consequences. Above all else, lying is unethical. And who wants an unethical employee? Says Laszlo, “Putting a lie on your résumé is never, ever, ever worth it. Everyone, up to and including CEOs, gets fired for this. (Google ‘CEO fired for lying on résumé’ and see.)”

Hiring managers are looking for the best of the best–equip yourself with the right knowledge about the mistakes other people make and soon you will rise to the top!

By: Peter Economy The Leadership Guy@bizzwriter

Source: A Google Executive Reviewed More Than 20,000 Resumes–He Found These 5 Stunning Mistakes Over and Over

Resumes Don’t Tell the Whole Story: How a Job Application Fills in the Gaps for Smarter Hiring – Small Biz Trends

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According to a recent HRdirect Small Business Hiring Practices Survey, only 21% of small businesses require applicants to complete forms to get hired. Not having this essential part of your screening and hiring processes can be a tremendous shortcoming that hinders your success. Here’s why: Slick resumes may immediately grab your attention, but these may not present the entire picture about your applicants.

To get around this — and obtain the information you want from a wide range of candidates — you need a legally sound job application. A thorough process captures the right information so you then can make smarter decisions and strengthen your overall hiring processes.

The Aim of Candidates Is to “Sell”

A resume acts as a promotional tool for the applicant. It’s his or her opportunity to impress, to sell you on his or her qualifications.

And like most promotional tools, resumes vary tremendously — and only contain what the applicant is willing to share. They may omit all kinds of information you would like to have; however, having the right tools for recruitment, you can get the answers to make better selections.

Net More of What You’re After

Using a standardized process for job applications can help give you a complete picture by asking specific questions in a uniform and compliant manner. These questions may include:

  • Full legal name
  • Email address (instead of residential address)
  • Phone number(s)
  • Preferred name
  • Employment history
  • Education (degrees and certifications)
  • Military service (relevant skills, dates of service)
  • Skills and qualifications
  • References
  • Reasons for leaving previous jobs

If it’s beneficial, you can go beyond these essentials to include a few more probing questions. For example:

  • Why are there breaks in an applicant’s employment? Ask the candidate to explain why.
  • Interested in how they interact with others? Have him or her describe to describe a relationship with a past supervisor or describe his or way in handling a conflict.
  • What is the applicant’s availability? Ask the number of hours they can work weekly or preferred shifts.

One of the bigger advantages of having a formal application is that it provides a level playing field and immediate point of comparison. Rather than slogging through all types of resumes, you quickly can compare and categorize standardized applications for a faster, more efficient screening process.

Another important advantage: A formalized, standardized process for your applicants should contain compliant language and legal disclosures that protect you from the potential for risks, that clearly state you uphold legal notices at the federal and state levels.

Connect with More Candidates with State-Specific Job Applications

Having job applications brings critical benefits to your small business. You easily, quickly and confidently can net relevant information related to employment experience and education while protecting or safeguarding your business from compliance risks.

The Job Application Smart App from HRdirect is the perfect tool for connecting with more job candidates. Email applicants with a link to your application, place it on your website, include it in your online ad or print paper copies for walk-in applicants. In addition to these convenient options, your application always will cover the latest state regulations to keep you current and on firm legal footing.

 

 

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