[EAS] Resume Fraud

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Apr 21 03:50:08 EDT 2004

Subject:   Resume Fraud

NETFUTURE #156 <http://www.netfuture.org/2004/Apr2004_156.html>
(See details about the NETFUTURE newsletter at the end.)

Re-engineering the Personal Resume

You can add resume fraud and resume fraud-detection efforts to the
various technological arms races spawned by the digital era.  Web
sites offering fake degrees have been with us for a while, but now
some people are paying hackers to enter their names in class-list
databases of bona fide universities.

But that's a felony and there's no need to go to such extremes.  A
Reuters story ("Resume Fraud Gets Slicker and Easier", Feb. 9),
relates how web sites will not only provide degrees, grades, and
transcripts, but now will also give you an 800-number that employers
can call to "verify" your education.  According to Reuters,

  The background search firm ADP Screening and Selection Services, in
  a 2003 study, found that more than 50 percent of the people on whom
  it conducted employment and education checks had submitted false
  information, compared with about 40 percent in 2002.

If the numbers are sound, that's a 25 percent increase in one year. 
Not surprisingly, some 80 percent of companies are said to have
resorted to counter measures, checking the backgrounds and criminal
records of their employees.  How could they not?

The resume challenge is just another one of the many indications of
what happens when social transactions are increasingly mediated by
technology. Whether you're talking about privacy invasions and
defenses, or censorship and efforts to outflank it, or copyright
piracy and its prevention, or commercial assaults against children
and the attempts to protect children from them, or plagiarism and
plagiarism detection, or the spam and virus wars, or the
increasingly automated battles for "mind-share" fought in pop-up
windows and other media spaces -- in all these cases the conflict is
more and more taking the form of escalating encounters between my
technology and yours, software against software, hardware against
hardware.  Or, which is the same thing:  the conflict is less and
less a matter of my having anything directly to do with you.  So
normal social constraints play less and less of an inhibiting role,
and the insults to human decency become more extreme every month.

The peculiar, non-technological demands placed upon us by this
"technologization" of social transactions seem to me the great
missed story of the digital era.  We can scarcely avoid being caught
up in the various technical arms races that are changing the
character of modern life.  But the clear implication is that the
hope for saving human society depends on our complementary advances
in the art of being human together whenever and however we can
manage it.  I have no greater penchant for this work than the next
person.  But I do know that the opportunity for it exists at every
moment, and the first requirement is not for some sort of doing in
an external or programmatic sense.  Rather, the need is to bring a
different, more inner, more attentive, more meditational dimension
to whatever else we doing.

In the case of an employer evaluating a job applicant and resume,
the only ultimate security lies in a practical habit of deep,
soul-searching attention and communicative skill that enables one to
read the other person (and allows oneself to be read) at a level
where deception is nearly impossible.  An ambitious goal? 
Certainly.  But it is exactly the kind of goal we are required to
pursue if we would, at least with part of ourselves, step outside
the ultimately futile terms of those technical arms races.


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