job candidates who plagiarize

Here is some advice.

If you’re applying for a job, and the application process includes a written exercise, do not plagiarize your written exercise from materials you find online.

And then, when the person reviewing your exercise points out to you that entire paragraphs are word-for-word the same as what can be found online, do not try to assure her that it’s somehow just coincidence.

I had a candidate do this today. It’s the second time I’ve caught someone in this, and I have to wonder how many more I haven’t caught.

Plagiarism = not a good idea. Not only is it, you know, wrong, but if you cheat your way into a job, how do you plan on keeping that job? The hiring process is designed to identify candidates who will excel in the position — if you misrepresent your skills, you’re likely to end up in a job that you aren’t a good fit for and might get fired from.

So why do people do this? I suspect it’s some combination of cockiness and laziness — the belief that their own work would be just as good, but they just aren’t inclined to put in the time to do it themselves.

I kind of wish we could print their names publicly, like the hiring equivalent of a sex offenders list.

{ 18 comments… read them below }

  1. Sadistic Manager*

    Ah, Google: the hiring manager’s best friend. This kind of offense is on the order of lying about prior convictions. It’s just too easy to get caught.

    Although the coincidence explanation is what gets me. Wouldn’t you assume that someone in a position to hire you has at least a little bit of intelligence?

  2. Shinsei*

    The very idea of plagiarizing anything for a job application is really amusing to me. Then again, a lot of what people (not just job applicants) is amusing.

    @SM: Come now, clearly you, as a hiring manager, couldn’t possibly have the resources to determine that someone is overstating their qualifications, criminal background or writing ability. That would just be silly!

  3. Rowan Manahan*

    Amen to that Ask – “If you have to lie to get your foot in the door, this isn’t the job for you.”

  4. kim-free information*

    Plagiarism is definitely a not a good way to get a job.You’ll end up losing opportunities.

  5. Kelly O*

    If it doesn’t fly in high school, what makes a person think it’s a swell way to land a job?

    We busted someone in an online forum for pretty much copying and pasting directly from another site, and she tried to claim she was “paraphrasing” even though we never saw anything like “Oh, the other day on such-and-such I read…” Even in a social networking environment it can work against you.

  6. J.T.*

    Reminds of a time I was working for a translation agency and a college student from an Ivy League school faxed in their French paper in English and wanted to pay to have it translated! We turned him down.

    Yes, you will get caught, one way or another!

  7. Erin M*

    I’m not usually much of a commenter–but now it’s twice this week. I LOVE the idea of an “HR Offender Registry.”

  8. Anonymous*

    Almost as bad as the fake transcript we got a few years ago…. Do they think hiring companies won’t check with the university? The university in question was very interested….

  9. college prof*

    Echoing Krupo, here. As a college prof, something sometimes happens when I read student papers. I’m reading along hearing a student’s voice in my head, and suddenly the voice changes. That’s when I go to a search engine. The search results are typically only the end of the beginning.

  10. Rick Saia*

    Echoing what Kelly O says: You know full well when you’re in high school and college that there are potentially dire consequences for plagiarizing. There are indeed certain things that carry over to the working world.

  11. Anonymous*

    1/2 of the cover letters I get for client services are the exact same version of a cover letter found online. It’s not ego. It’s sheer laziness and ignorance.

  12. Just another HR lady...*

    AAM, I have caught job candidates cheating on assignments twice in my career and both times I was just flabbergasted by it. The second time was actually an internal candidate, that was fun.

    I wonder sometimes if it’s the nature of the use of internet in schools these days, I certainly never would have picked up an encyclopedia and copied it word for word for an assignment.

  13. jaded hr rep*

    Makes you wonder how these people earned their degrees. A senior person at one of my companies was fired for plagiarizing a strategy document years ago.

    And let it be said that most recruiters know you embellish a little on your resume, but at least try to keep it within reason. I had a resume of someone who wrote she held an officer position at a non-profit. Unfortunately for her, I happened to be involved with the same non-profit and knew this info to be false (she was just a member who had volunteered some time at a meeting). Needless to say, she didn’t get an interview, and she got a nice call from the president of the non-profit telling her to knock it off.

  14. Rob Bird*

    I think part of it is the job market. People just want to be given the chance to do a good job, but if they aren’t the best candidate they aren’t given that chance. So they will do anything to get the job, even lying.

Comments are closed.