Lying to Get Ahead from Trevor Green on Vimeo.
By Kayla Lokeinsky | Cooper City High School
What happens on Facebook may not necessarily stay on Facebook.
William Schmidt built a business based on lies, literally.
Making a profit from creating fake professional personas, Schmidt’s careerexcuse.com is a site that prides itself on being a place where you can change your professional credentials with the click of a button.
“It’s unfortunate that sites like careerexcuse.com exist,” said Susan Murphy, president of human resources at Leadership Collaborations, a New Hampshire-based human resource company. “They’re creating an environment of distrust.”
As the founder of careerexcuse.com, which has been up and running since April 2009, Schmidt has created an environment entirely devoted to providing clients with all the job experience they need without the actual experience.
“We hope to provide our members with jobs as quickly as possible,” Schmidt said. “Instead of having their friends be references for them, we have references that look professional and are believable.”
Careerexcuse.com creates fake references, resumes and websites of imaginary companies with phone numbers so if your employer checks up on you, they’ll verify your employment history.
Even if there isn’t an already made reference that doesn’t fit the job that you’re applying for, careerexcuse.com will customize one for you. According to the site, the company’s business revenue has increased by 30 percent since its opening.
“As long as there’s a market for phony job resumes, these sites are never going to go away,” said Paul Lazarus, formerly an intellectual property attorney who now teaches in the University of Miami School of Communication. “It’s an extension of how our society is based today, like buying forged essays and fake diplomas.”
Lying on a resume has become more common as the economy has tanked, according to Hire Right, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm that specializes in employee background checks. In a recent study, the firm concluded that 80 percent of all resumes are misleading, 20 percent state fraudulent degrees, 30 percent show altered employment dates, 40 percent have inflated salary claims, 30 percent have inaccurate job descriptions, and 27 percent have falsified references.
“I don’t ever recommend that anyone use false job resumes because it might come back to haunt them,” Murphy said.
Their webpage boldly states, “We GUARANTEE that you will be hired.” Equipped with everything from fake resumes to fake funeral notices, careerexcuse.com boldly emphasizes its success. Schmidt’s site targets those with no prior work experience and those fired from their previous jobs.
“Not everyone can get a job,” Schmidt said. “Although it’s the greatest feeling when one of my clients calls and tells me that he’s been hired.”
The site offers packages ranging from $65 to $195 and the more you pay the more credentials you receive.
“This site is highly, highly, highly unethical,” Murphy said. “I compare it to those online dating sites where married people go to find other married people and have an affair. To me its fraud, misrepresentation and on the border of being illegal.”
Although they strongly advertise their guarantee of getting a job, under their terms of agreement, policy No. 1 states, “No Guarantee of Results. CareerExcuse.com is not an employment agency or a recruiting firm, and makes no representations or guarantees regarding the effectiveness or timeliness of the site in meeting the employment objectives of users.”
“It’s pretty much false advertising,” said Nancy Willard, executive director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use. “Saying one thing, then in fine print saying another is highly deceptive.”
Agencies that deal with unfair business practices, such as the Federal Trade Commission, cannot crack down on websites like careerexcuse.com.
“What their clients have to realize is there is no honor among thieves,” said Nathaniel Wood, the FTC’s assistant director. “They can’t really complain about a site that is ripping them off when they were making a dishonest transaction themselves by intending to lie.”
Even so, careerexcusse.com is entirely legal. Since a job resume is not a government document, according to Forbes Magazine, and the fake references that they create are not copyrighted by other companies, no laws are being broken.
“You can argue that this site is protected by the First Amendment,” Lazarus said. “I don’t know if there is technically anything illegal about them, but it is fraud. Even if this site is shut down, as long as there is a market for false resumes it will open back up again. Even if it is legal, cheating is cheating, and this, this is cheating.”
“Employees must be more thorough and investigate everything on a resume,” Murphy said. “They are spending unnecessary resources, including time and money, on thorough investigations of resumes. From an ethical perspective, I wouldn’t be surprised if the site were shut down.”
Simply hiring a minimum wage employee now requires an extensive background check.
“Everyone is going to become very suspicious of job applicants now,” said Stein Mart Clothing Manager Ariana Santamaria. “Sometimes references aren’t even called for minimum wage workers, and now the checks will have to be more thorough than ever before.”
The majority of people who lie on their job resumes are those applying for managing or high up positions, according to Forbes Magazine.
While it has been made known that there has been a universal increase in telling lies on job resumes, getting away with misleading future employers on a job resume is not as likely as careerexcuse.com makes it out to be.
Andrew Keirsh, a recent high school graduate, said he put a fake retail job on his resume for a store that had closed down.
“When I got an internship,” Keirsh said, “I filled out a form which was actually for a background check company and I didn’t realize that at the time. I was dismissed, and the sad part is that I would have probably have gotten the job even if I never had written it down, I just felt that I needed to make myself seem more important to get hired.”