With Weak Job Market, Comes Opportunities For Resume Fraud

As millions of Americans struggle with long-term unemployment, the temptation to stretch the truth on one’s resume to gain a competitive advantage is becoming harder to resist. Some desperate job seekers are going so far as to establish fake references. However, the payoff may not be worth the risk, according to one employment authority.

“There is very little proof that any form of resume boosting directly results in a job interview, much less a job offer. In contrast, there are scores of examples of individuals who have been eliminated from candidacy or fired after a fraudulent resume was uncovered,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the global outplacement consultancy which provides job-search training and counseling to individuals who have been laid off.

The significantly weakened job market, which is expected to continue to struggle even as other segments of the economy begin to recover, creates an environment that is ripe for resume boosting. As of January there were 14.8 million unemployed Americans. Of those, 6.3 million or 41.2 percent have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Another six million have opted out of the labor force but still want a job.

Statistics on resume fraud are difficult to obtain because only a fraction of resumes are ever checked for discrepancies. The best evidence of resume fraud’s pervasiveness may come from the companies that provide employment screening services.
In its 2009 Hiring Index, business services provider ADP reported that 46 percent of employment, education and/or credential reference checks conducted in 2008 revealed discrepancies between what the applicant provided and what the source reported. That was up from 41 percent in 2006.
More than 22 percent of the tech-sector resumes verified in 2007 by New York-based risk consultancy Kroll contained misrepresentations of academic credentials, according to a company spokesperson interviewed by tech-industry publication IEEE Spectrum. The firm estimated that more than half of the tech-industry resumes it reviewed had discrepancies related to employment history.
IEEE Spectrum also cited a study of erroneous resumes by executive search firm CTPartners, which found that 64 percent of candidates overstate accomplishments, while 71 percent misrepresent the number of years they held a position.

“These somewhat alarming statistics are just from companies that make the effort to check the veracity of claims made on resumes or in interviews. The overwhelming majority of employers do not go to such lengths. Many companies limit their efforts to criminal background checks and reference checks. They do not spend the extra time and money to verify the accuracy of every job title, accomplishment and educational achievement listed on one’s resume,” said Challenger.

“This lack of oversight, however, should not be considered an open invitation to defraud the system. If discrepancies are discovered, many companies maintain a no-tolerance policy on such matters and will move quickly to investigate and possibly terminate. In high-profile positions, where the discovery of resume fraud often becomes public, the breach can taint all future attempts to find employment,” he warned.
Unfortunately, too many job seekers are willing to take the risk. Some have even taken resume fraud to the next level by providing prospective employers with bogus job references.

After spotting dozens of requests for fake references on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, one entrepreneur founded CareerExcuse.com. As reported in the human resources trade publication HR Magazine, CareerExcuse.com offers fake work histories and references to job seekers.

Desperation in this job market may force other job seekers to turn to outfits selling fake diplomas. Because of the underground nature of these so-called diploma mills, there are no reliable statistics on the number of bogus degrees sold each year. George Gollin, a physics professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign and a board member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the federal government’s recognized authority on accrediting agencies, estimates that 100,000 to 200,000 phony degrees are sold every year. Furthermore, he estimates that the federal government spends roughly $300 million a year on pay increases for employees who got jobs or promotions using fraudulent degrees or certificates.

The problem of diploma mills has become so widespread that Congress is considering legislation that aims to reduce and prevent the sale and use of fraudulent degrees. The legislation introduced in January by Reps. Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Michael Castle (R-Del.) would cement in federal law definitions of “diploma mills” and “accreditation mills”, bar federal agencies from using degrees from diploma mills to provide jobs or promotions that depend on candidates’ educational credentials, and give the Federal Trade Commission more authority to define and crack down on deceptive practices by dubious institutions.

“These are indeed desperate times, and desperate measures are definitely required to find a job. However, these desperate measures should not include lying on resumes, falsifying work histories, or buying fake references and diplomas. Instead, job seekers should be considering seeking positions in different cities, states, or even countries. They should reach out to people they have not spoken to in 15 years and identify all potential employers, not just the ones posting online and newspaper help-wanted ads. These are the types of desperate measures job seekers should be employing,” said Challenger.

(in no particular order)

Education: Listing degree from a school never attended; inflating grade point average and graduate honors; citing degree from online, non-accredited “education” institution.

Job title: Making up a title or boosting actual title by one or more levels in hopes of obtaining better salary offers.

Compensation: Inflating current or previous salary and benefits to secure more money from prospective employer.

Reason for leaving: Saying it was a mass downsizing when the discharge was based on performance; asked to leave, but saying you quit; underplaying or completely hiding poor relationships with superiors.

Accomplishments: Overstating one’s contributions to a team project or company performance; claiming to have received special recognition; exaggerating level of participation in an important aspect of the business.



An improving economy may not necessarily lead to a slowdown in job cuts for the telecommunications sector, which has announced nearly 110,000 layoffs since the beginning of 2007. While the last two years of telecom job cuts remain significantly below the levels reached in the early 2000s, they are nearly double the 28,206 job cuts announced in 2007.

The cuts are due in large part to a major shift in the way consumers use communications devices; specifically, they are increasingly shifting away from traditional landlines to cell phones and internet-based services, such as Vonage and Skype.

Tuesday morning, Qwest Communications announced that fourth-quarter earnings fell 39%, as more than 900,000 business and residential customers disconnected their landlines during the last three months of the year. The losses would have been much steeper were it not for increases in its high-speed Internet and cell phone business, which grew 4.5% and 18.5% respectively, according to news reports.

“Verizon and AT&T also have seen significant losses in the landline customers over the past two years. Job cuts in these traditional services areas could continue to mount until each company has just enough staff to service existing lines,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

AT&T, in fact, appears that they would just assume abandon landlines entirely. Late last year, the telecom giant filed a 32-page appeal to the Federal Communications Commission, asking that regulations requiring it to support an analog landline phone network be phased out, allowing it to go entirely with VOIP-provided phone service. The phone company pointed to the fact that between 2000 and 2008, usage of its landline services dropped 42%, while revenue generated by this service dropped 27%.

It will probably be a while before the FCC considers such drastic measures, particularly since 20% of Americans still rely solely on landlines. That percentage is unlikely to change in the near future, partly due to the lack of cell coverage and Internet access in rural areas.

“Regardless of the FCCs position, the telecommunications companies will dedicate more money and manpower to improving and expanding their broadband and wireless networks. These areas of their business will most assuredly see strong hiring over the next five to 10 years, particularly if telecoms finally commit to expanding their reach to underserved rural communities,” said Challenger.


2001: 317,777

2002: 268,857

2003: 111,342

2004: 98,734

2005: 70,127

2006: 45,947

2007: 28,206

2008: 48,648

2009: 44,068

2010: 14,010*

*Through January

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

John Challenger on July Job Cuts (CNBC)


4-Day Work Weeks And Transportation Costs

And here it is!

<a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/24982222#24982222“>http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/24982222#24982222

Our Boss On Today!

This month, our firm released a report on the effects of high gas costs on the workplace: what employers are doing to help, how employees are changing their behavior, etc. Our survey found that 57 percent of employers offer some type of program designed to alleviate increased commuting costs, the most popular of which is a condensed work-week, giving workers a day off from transportation costs. Our boss CEO John Challenger is talking about the report on the Today Show tomorrow morning, and we here at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. couldn’t be more excited.

This report, of course, is not the only one our researchers issue. Each month, we release a job cut report, detailing the number of layoffs companies have announced in that particular month. It stands as a useful indicator on our economic conditions and is often cited in reputable media sources, such as the New York Times, Associated Press and Reuters among others. We have recently, and not all-together surprisingly seen an upward trend in the number of layoffs employers have announced, mostly concentrated in the automotive, retail, transportation and the very hard-hit financial sectors. In May, for instance, we recorded 103,522 job cuts versus some 70,000 in May 2007.

So watch as our CEO John Challenger appears on the Today Show June 5 at 7:40am to discuss this report.

John has made various other appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal Radio, etc., all equally exciting. But the Today Show is always nice, and in the first hour too!

Here’s a recent clip from Bloomberg TV

And another…