Faking it: references too good to be true

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As the job market gets tighter candidates are looking for more ways to stand out – and some are going so far as to fake their references.

From the amateur efforts of parents and friends, to professional resume faking companies – some candidates will go to any length to get the job.

The problem has worsened since the recession, says BackCheck president and CEO Dave Dinesen, whose company does more than 600,000 background checks a year for Canadian companies.

One of the most common techniques for faking references is to have a friend or family member stand in as a former supervisor – although this can occasionally backfire when the fake referee’s conscience kicks in.

In one case Dinesen remembers an interviewer flagged a reference as suspicious while talking to them. Not long after the interview ended the “referee” called back to confess – she was the candidate’s grandmother.

More complex, and often more difficult to catch, are sites like careerexcuse.com, which will provide detailed fake references for a fee starting from around $200. The reference includes a website, phone number and details about the person’s fictitious last role.

It’s a sign of the times, Dinesen says, and demonstrates just how tough the job market has become. Employers needed to be wary of any reference that seemed too good to be true or raised flags around consistency, and to do their own research. “If you just rely on the information supplied by the applicant, there’s a large risk that you just won’t know who you’re talking to.”

Avoid being caught out:

  1. Google and cross-check references. Don’t rely on the contact details provided by the candidate.
  2. Push for details about the candidate’s role, how long they worked there, personal experiences with the candidate. A fake reference can be caught out in a complex lie.
  3. Combine 1 and 2: ask the reference for an address or company website. If their answer doesn’t match search results or the candidate’s information, it’s a warning sign.
  • Tim on 2012-04-13 12:07:17 AM

    It's disappointing these kind of organizations exist. Hence more HR managers moving towards social media and facebook to pre-screen candidates.

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