Imagine that you are the sole proprietor and only employee of a company. You are doing your work and blissfully building your business, when one day you receive a call to provide a reference for a former employee. Baffled by this call, you do some research and discover that you have had phantom coworkers and employees for years through the guise of LinkedIn. This is the true story of one woman who was blindsided by this call. A deeper investigation unearthed over 300 people whom she had never known or worked with, falsely stating on their profiles that they had worked at her company. She took her findings to LinkedIn administrators, hoping they would take some action about the fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, no actions were taken, and those profiles continue to exist. This incident is not unique to LinkedIn. Job boards, professional networks, freelancing platforms and social networks, which are all used today for professional networking, job posting and talent hunting, allow their users complete freedom of representation and in many cases that means false identities, fraudulent job offers, bullying and harassment.
Trust is at an all-time low with more fake job opportunities, fake companies and fake professionals
Deceptions in the hiring process are on the rise, becoming an everyday reality for companies and professionals alike. Game developers applying for studio and project roles at various companies and projects have frequently discovered that either the posted job, project, or even the studio itself, turns out to be completely nonexistent. With 100% more NFT projects than this time last year, they are contributing to the challenge as they’ve been the source for much fraudulent activities - attracting bad actors who are willing to do anything to make a quick buck. Remote hiring has also contributed to the challenge, professionals are not visiting the office and have less opportunities to validate who they are working for. As a result, “Am I going to get paid?!” is the number one concern for talent in the industry. A second concern fueled by stories of toxic culture and harassment is “Who am I actually working for?”.
Can you believe the integrity of the work presented?
Recently, our team was looking for a UI/UX designer. I came across the profile of a UI/UX designer on one of the popular job services and loved the work he presented. But when I ran it by our head of design, he immediately identified this work as belonging to a leading design studio in our space – it was plagiarized. Further research for candidates – revealed 5 additional candidates who plagiarized their portfolios. Many of the systems being used to find talent and work today - job-recruitment sites, freelance websites, and social networks - are rife with false and plagiarized content both from professionals and studios, because there is no validation and oversight. Any claim of accomplishments or career track record can be made, and any opportunity can be promoted – whether they are true or not. These deceptions waste considerable time and money. Both parties are burdened with deciphering the truth, while still running the risk (and bearing the unfortunate consequences) if they happen to get it wrong.
Does anyone take action to remove ill behavior?
Users would love to regain trust in the networks that they use and they are willing to take action to remove fake profiles and call out ill behavior. On LinkedIn for example, users have shared countless experiences in a plea for the administrators to own their responsibility to protect people on their platform. They called out sexual harassment, identity snatchers, and bullying as major problems that dilute the power of creating authentic and powerful work connections. This was not the first time and as before no remedy was reported (as of March 2022). While user reporting could be helpful the reality is that it is rarely dealt with effectively, if at all. Without reliable actions from these networks, users are left to fend for themselves.
What can be done? What do you do with bad actors?
What do you do with bad actors? Hold them back at the gate and own the responsibility to weed out ill behavior. The platform and community owners must protect the users, that is the only way to create authentic and powerful work connections. It’s also up to the platform owners to ensure that all accounts on a platform are real and content is represented with integrity -- giving professionals and companies peace of mind.
Neither companies nor professionals should be able to hide behind fake accounts in the hiring marketplace. If we collectively demand a better solution, we can all benefit from a more transparent marketplace in which to search, hire and build with greater speed.