Could you spot a fake reference from a job candidate? Newstalk 1010 interviewed me recently about a website called careerexcuse.com. This company touts themselves as “an industry leader in the fake job reference business” and just as it sounds, they offer fake references for a price to would-be jobseekers. According to Business Insider, CareerExcuse has created 200 different companies that are entirely virtual, and entirely fictional in order to dole out such fake recommendations.
“For a fee, you can say you worked at one of them (fictional company), and – even more valuable – they’ll confirm you were a stellar employee there.” – Business Insider
Is it really that easy to get away with such blatant lies in our industry? Is it even worth checking references these days? Even if such fake reference services were not available, getting a friend or family member to pretend to play the part is nothing new.
If best practices on reference checks are followed however, it can offer an extra layer of insight for employers and prove to be very valuable. For this reason, at BlueSky Personnel Solutions, we always check references on our candidates before there is an intent of offer with a client.
We actually ask 25 very specific questions during our reference checks. These range from how the job candidate did in their position, to how they handled conflicts with team members – especially if the job is for a manager, to how they troubleshooted on-the-job challenges. For those giving fake references, it can be very difficult to come up with detailed examples to our questions on the fly.
In this process, we have found three telltale signs that can “out” fake references:
- The information is too vague:if you find you are consistently getting general answers that gloss over specific questions in a reference check, it could be because that person hasn’t witnessed what he or she said they did.
- The information is very personal:sometimes, we get people sharing a lot of very personal information on a candidate – the kind of information that is not normally known by a colleague, but rather, by friends and family. If personal information is replacing work-related information in a reference check, it may be reason to sound the alarm.
- The person presented for reference check has a different online footprint: we always double check the name, position and contact number of the person a job candidate gives us for a reference -with additional online sources, such as LinkedIn and Google searches. From time to time, we uncover fibs in this way. For example, a candidate may provide a reference claiming this person was their boss, but we learn from their LinkedIn profile that he or she was actually a colleague.
Have you come across fake job references? What gave them away for you? We’d love to hear your stories – join us on your favourite social media channels. Let’s chat!
And if you want to listen to my interview with Newstalk 1010’s John Moore, please click here. It starts at 13:10 in the clip.