Oswald Letter

Fake job references—what’s the world coming to?!

Resumeby Dan Oswald

The other day I heard about a company that provides fake references for job applicants, renters, and others. And from what I understand, the length it goes to in order to “lie” on behalf of its clients is unbelievable—even if the references it provides are believable.

This company will provide you with a reference from a person who works for a company that is completely fabricated. You get to choose the area code from which the reference will come, along with the industry in which you work. It guarantees the company will pass the sniff test. That is, when someone searches the Internet for your fake employer, she will find a company complete with an address and driving directions.

The company provides the same type of service for renters. Need to show employment to rent that house or apartment? No worries. You don’t need a job; you just need someone to say you are gainfully employed. This company will do that for you.

It’s hard to believe a ruse this elaborate really works. What’s the saying? “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Can you imagine a job applicant lying in an interview by trying to match his work history to a company at which he never worked and learned about only from a conversation with the liars who are providing the reference? Simple questions about management, the area in which the company supposedly is located, or its products and services could completely derail the interview.

I must admit that when I heard about this service, I was incensed. It makes me incredibly angry that a company would be in business to lie on behalf of its customers. While I assume it’s not illegal to provide false references for job applicants, it’s certainly unethical and immoral. What does it tell its employees when it hires them?

I can imagine the company’s job ad reads something like this:

Can you lie through your teeth while you smile? Have you been telling fish stories since you were a child? Are you willing to lie unabashedly on behalf of strangers? If so, do we have a job for you! We’re a growing company looking for talented professional liars. The better you can lie, the bigger the opportunities are with our company. So if you’re a liar, we want you. Apply today! (And if you don’t have any references, we can help with that, too.)

If a great working relationship is based on trust, what must this company be like? I can’t imagine the employees trust their employer—its whole business model is predicated on lying. And on the other hand, the employer can’t trust the employees—they lie for a living. What could anyone believe?

And what’s the company’s mission statement—“We strive to be the best liars in the business” or “We won’t rest until every unqualified job applicant has a host of fake references on which to rely”?

As I write this, I become angrier with every sentence. Imagine the company provides a reference for a supposed experienced heavy equipment operator. The applicant gets the job based on the glowing reference. The problem is the person has never operated heavy equipment in his life. He just liked the sound of the job and the salary associated with it. The first day on the job, he drives a bulldozer through a building or—worse yet—injures someone else because of his complete lack of experience. Is our friendly reference provider liable in any way for its part in this? I sure hope so!

I’m not sure what it says about our society that a company like this can exist, but in my opinion, it’s not good. Here’s hoping that your applicants have real references from real people at real companies! And if you’re afraid I’ve lied about all of this, here’s the link to the company’s site: www.careerexcuse.com. Of course, I guess they could be lying about even providing the service.