Resume Plagiarism: The Sordid Side of Executive Job Search

Resume Plagiarism: Avoid the Sordid Side in Your Executive Job Search

What happens when you copy from someone else’s resume (to you and them)? What do employers do to the resume to find the plagiarized content and how does that change your job prospects? Your resume is yours, to an extent, as original content is becoming less original. Read on to learn how you can avoid the appearance of having copied someone else’s resume–and perhaps save your entire job search from sinking.

Note: The quick answer is that no copying is allowed. The longer answer follows.

The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey your background is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. To that end, original content is becoming more difficult to create, even though it remains ethically wrong to directly copy information from another person’s resume or cover letter to claim it as your own.

How Can “They” Tell?

In many companies, the initial recruitment process is automated. Large companies received hundreds or even thousands of applications for any one open position. This means that digital applications or programs are used to sift through the numerous resumes and cover letters searching for keywords and requirements to identify qualified and ineligible applicants. Some job seekers will see that descriptions or skill sets can be easily copied from the hiring company’s website and pasted onto a resume to provide the illusion that the person has the exact set of skills desired for the position. Does strict copy-and-paste help the candidate? Definitely not.

What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

What happens when you plagiarize someone else’s resume? Don’t even go there.
“Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

This opens the question: should a plagiarism check be used for resumes and will it actually work? The short answer is yes. Checking applicants through a plagiarism detecting software can show those applicants who are truly worthy applicants and those who are presenting skills they do not have. If the company values the importance of hiring the right person for the job, it would make sense to utilize the plagiarism check on the candidates who make it to the final round of decisions and interviews. Plagiarism, when detected, displays that the candidate is not only willing to lie to the company on the chance of getting a job but also cannot show their own skills properly. Checking for plagiarism eliminates candidates who are dishonest and do not have the skills necessary for the position.

Social Media Protection

With the use of social media sites such as LinkedIn, resume details and profile information can be easily copied and pasted onto a newly created profile. While you can post a Word document or a PDF version of a resume and cover letter, the most commonly copied bits of information are from the actual profile page. Copying from someone’s profile or having your profile information copied is wrong and there are ways to prevent individuals from keeping that information. Plagiarism is plagiarism–not flattery, not enhancing your abilities, and not increasing your chance of being hired.

Keeping your profiles up-to-date can help you attract attention from employers looking from your skill set however, if someone else has copied that information, or you have copied information from someone else, and both profiles appear in the search, it will appear as though both of the profiles are the same. The hiring professional will likely disregard both of the candidates, then, because they will not invest the time to discover who is the original owner of that information.

What do you do in that situation, if someone has copied your profile? First, make sure you are performing regular searches about something that is unique to your experience. Conduct an advanced search with “quoted keywords from your profile.” If you find results aside from yourself, someone has taken your information and posted it to their profile. Make sure you these individuals and call them out on it. Actually call them. Anyone can and will ignore an email, but it is much harder to ignore a phone call. The conversation will probably go a bit like this:

“Hi John. My name is Sam and I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile. It’s actually quite impressive and appears to be, in fact, a direct copy of my own profile.”

There will probably be more questions and a deeper conversation than above. Hopefully, they did not intend to copy your information with wrongful intentions and are now embarrassed that they were caught. Calling them will increase the chance that they will remove those pieces of their profile. However, if that is not the case and they refuse to remove the information, flag/report their profile to alert the authorities of the site and then contact tech support. LinkedIn’s tech support does not respond quickly so it is in your best interest to try to resolve the issue before contacting them.

Plagiarism of this kind is not just stealing or misrepresentation, it also limits the number of contacts the original owner of that information can make. This plagiarism creates a victim with few options to regain their strength.

How to Be Uniquely YOU in Your Resume

You also have to remember that if you use someone else’s resume as your own, there will be differences in experience. While some of your skills and general experiences may line up, not every project or achievement will be the same. Then, you have to realize that if you are doing this, someone else will have the same idea. What happens then, if you and that other person, are submitting the exact same resume, with different names, for the same position? Your resume needs to be a document that is unique to you.

There are guidelines to writing proper resumes that have been published to make it easier for you to craft the document. You can utilize professional resume writers and save yourself the trouble of creating all new content however, you would need to dedicate the time to provide as much unique information as possible.  Generic information or bland words don’t make you stand out on the page. Finding a way to represent yourself in a way that is unique to you and showcase your skills.

Hint: The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey that information is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. If you, as an executive resume writer would, capture the details of your outstanding accomplishments, nobody can claim your unique history, and you have ample discussion material for your interview to prove your unique expertise.

Creating your resume doesn’t have to be a chore or have you worrying about plagiarizing. Do your research to find unique ways to represent your experience. Executive resume writers (such as those of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts) will do this on your behalf, ethically and optimally tuning your resume to your goals.

 By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Amy L Adler markets senior executives with persuasive executive resume writing, compelling LinkedIn profile development, and masterful job search coaching, so they can identify and obtain the executive career of their dreams.

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