Featured Guest Post by Gerry Crispin
“I want to raise an issue with the group here that is causing me increasing concern”, said the country [UK] head of recruiting for a global hotel chain to nearly 40 of his peers representing a dozen different industries at a London meeting last month. He went on to explain that “more and more people are showing up at our doorstep ready to start work. Unfortunately we have no record of ever selecting them…even if we had the openings to fill.”
It turns out that some of the individuals who believed themselves to be newly hired were initially contacted directly by emails claiming to have matched their profile with existing openings while others had simply responded to counterfeit ads- and very good counterfeits as the English was correct, the names & emails we’re carefully chosen and the web address to apply was a respectable imitation of the firm’s career site. The ads were placed by ‘recruiters’ representing different hotels in the chain on numerous legitimate job boards.
Resumes were accepted, emails exchanged and phone interviews conducted. An email offer including start date and address was the final hook with an explanation that an independent background check at the candidates expense ~$50 was the last hurdle. Not enough, given the distraction of the offer, to raise red flags….and, of course, a bad guy now had the credit card and pin number. As I looked around the room, heads were nodding, murmurs of “yes, same here” were being raised over and over. Nearly ¾ of the firms in the room had similar, and recent, examples. Adding up the estimates of the number of affected job seekers was shocking.
These were not small firms. Some of the most recognizable names in the world were present in that room and the problem was, in their estimation, more than an irritant, not yet out of control but growing rapidly. Reporting it was not helpful in garnering action from local, regional or national authorities as the amounts were too small (as reported). But, the potential impact for many of these firm’s employment brands downstream, if public awareness was heightened and solutions not found is deemed a serious prospect in addition to the individual impact multiplied many times.
Just imagine what a good visual an interview with someone minimally qualified for a job, desperate to work to feed their family, disappointed and depressed over learning the firm they had thought they were joining today had no record of them would be…while standing outside that firm. You wouldn’t want to hear that it is the 100th person to have found themselves in that situation but the firm hadn’t noticed because they hire so many and the incidents were spread over lots of facilities. Uh oh.
After returning from London I mentioned the conversation to a few other firms and, unbidden, I’m now getting examples of recruiting-related phishing emails, ads and websites from a variety of sources. While some stories have been in the press, the coverage of this issue has not been what I imagine it will be if its scope expands- especially if firms are aware and fail to take effective action. We tend to latch on to problems to be solved rather than problem solved.
In the next month I’m interested in interviewing employers willing to share their experience on the record and will also reach out and talk to job seekers taken in. If you know of any- especially affected employers trying to warn job seekers or better- take action in support of them, send me a note.
About the author: Gerry Crispin, SPHR is a life-long student of staffing and co-founder of CareerXroads, a firm devoted to peer-to-peer learning by sharing recruiting practices.