should I pay a company to create a false work history for my resume?

We’ve had several posts about lying on resumes lately, and here’s one from the candidate side. A reader writes:

I have been unemployed for nine months now. I am scared that I’ll easily hit the one-year mark, and the financial stress is adding to the psychological pressure, emotional toll, and mental fixation. It is a crappy situation to be in.

I heard there is this company that “closes” your employment gap for a small fee. Basically, you’d be working for a fictitious company in a fictitious location with a fictitious title. I have contacted them and they are legit. Based on my judgment, they are nice and caring and discreet and reliable and professional. Their mission is to help put people back into work. They indicated that during the past few years and since they’ve been in business, they have never been caught even once. In fact, if the employment end date is put down as N/A (“present”) on the resume, the odds are quite slim that they’ll even be called.

There are naturally pros and cons to using this service, but it may be worth the risk. I need your advice. What would you do if you were me?

Don’t do that.

Do you want to be the person who falsifies important documents about yourself?

You do not.

And aside from the obvious integrity issues, do you want to spend months or years with the fear hanging over you that it might come out somehow (which would almost certainly result in you losing your job, even if you were good at it, and do pretty serious long-term harm to your reputation)? Do you want to spend years being scared every time your manager or an HR person asks you to meet with them without telling you why?

And there are so, so many ways this could come out. You’re right that most employers won’t insist on getting a reference from your current employer — but what if one of your other references (from your real past jobs) inadvertently outs you by saying something like, “I know he’s been looking for a while now”? Or what if the reference-checker asks one of your real references about your current work and it comes out that way?

That service says they’ve never been caught; I’m skeptical of that claim. And unfortunately, we can’t just take them at their word, because they’re in the business of lying. They are literally professional liars. (And I’m going to disagree with you that they are “nice and caring.” Nice and caring people do not lure you into doing something with such a high risk to yourself and make it seem like it’s no big deal, and they don’t actively work to defraud the people who may be your future coworkers.)

Look, long job searches suck. I know that. But you do not want it to turn you into someone who lies and cheats your way into a job (which, keep in mind, you would be getting at the expense of other candidates who applied honestly), and you don’t want a decision like this to haunt you for years after you find employment again.

{ 282 comments… read them below }

  1. KT*

    I…just…what. “They’re legit”? How? they are in the business of conning people. I’m sure they’re nice and caring–they’re taking your money. They’re not in the business of putting people to work–they’re in the business of taking advantage of desperation.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      They’re legit in the sense that they exist and perform this “service” for a fee. But, yeah, sketchy as hell. Don’t do it, OP.

    2. Charityb*

      I was also surprised that the OP was willing to take their marketing material at face value. It’s a company that specializes in conning other companies; what are the odds that they would admit it if they had ever gotten “busted” before? How would they even know? Many employers would quietly rescind an offer if they caught someone falsifying a resume; the applicant might not even know for sure what happened or might not explain it to this service provider.

  2. Allison*

    These people aren’t “nice and caring,” they’re trying to profit off of desperate people who are willing to resort to fraud to get a job, knowing full well the people they’re raking in money from may eventually get caught, even if *they* have never been caught. Is there some kind of money-back guarantee if you get caught? Will they back you up at all if you get in real trouble? I’m guessing no.

    1. Sigrid*

      Seriously. They are talking advantage of desperate people by lying for them – for a fee. That is not “nice and caring”.

      1. Barbara*

        A con man’s ability to lie is his second best skill. His best skill is his ability to act caring and sincere.

        1. Folklorist*

          YES. Dealing with a shady property manager right now.

          His actions: Waits weeks to take action as mildew sets into my house post-flood. When finding flood-damaged areas, knocks on mildew-soaked drywall and proclaims it to be strong. I get put out of my room for 2+ weeks as they have to completely rebuild stuff, ignores requests for rent reduction for 2 months. Gas leak starts in house, shuts off hot water, he takes 2 weeks to fix it and blames the plumber for causing the gas leak for fun. Raises rent for the next month while still not addressing the need to rebate rent from previous months of being without service.

          His words: “I’m SO SORRY that this is taking so long. Why are you so mad? I’m just concerned that you feel that you aren’t getting the action you need. You’re obviously upset for a reason, and I’m trying to address that concern. I suppose I can see why you feel you might be disrespected because of lack of follow-up and apologize. I’m working on it now, and NOT because you suddenly decided you’re going to contact a lawyer, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

          Con artists totally know how to say the right words to keep from getting in trouble after they’re caught in a lie.

          1. Folklorist*

            Hah! Me neither. Well, not this time. Held strong, documented everything, and used it all to negotiate HARD. I’m pretty proud of myself for not backing down, actually. (Being tired and pissed off from not sleeping in your own bed for an extended period really helps.)

    2. RP*

      knowing full well the people they’re raking in money from may eventually get caught, even if they have never been caught

      OMG, this so much! I actually wouldn’t be that surprised that the companies that find out their applicants lied don’t bother to track down the service they used to falsify information. Unless the company is big enough to have HR spend the time tracking that down or the company in question actually has this happen twice, they may decide that firing the employee/rejecting the applicant is enough.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Right? How can you pull off a fictitious location when Google maps exist? Then again, I can’t say that’s something I would check myself.

      Maybe I need to now.

      1. BRR*

        Shell corporations can still have a location per google maps. There is a company in Delaware that exists solely for businesses to use that address for incorporating (apparently Delaware is super business friendly and even the Cayman Islands have even complained about their business/tax laws). So a shell company would show up in google maps.

        My thought is if your resume says you worked at Teapots, Inc., and you google teapots, inc., wouldn’t it show that it’s not a real business ?

        1. Allison*

          Fun fact, I did just Google Teapots, Inc. and there’s a Pinterest board with that name, so there’s that.

        2. MK*

          Lack of internet presense doesn’t equal non-existant; I know of plenty of long-established companies that don’t have much of one, some because they are too old-fashioned, some don’t see the benefit, etc.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            There’s still an internet presence, even if they don’t have a website.

            We offer free teapot samples to businesses at business address and it is easy a pie to sort actual potential customers from people trying to Get Free Stuff. If you google any legitimate business, there’s a trail on page one. Manta, yellow pages, state publish tax id/business license, etc. If you put a business’s name in google and there’s nothing on page 1, it’s probably not a business at all but if it is, it’s not big enough to have employees or a commercial office.

          2. BRR*

            I think I am switching my ability to see if it’s legitimate versus how much digging I would do if I was hiring somebody. That if it looked legit I would stop but if I picked up a scent of something fishy I would look more into the secretary of state business records.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            They’d need deeper background than that. Companies that try to place scam orders with us and “create a presence” have to go to a minimum of multipage website, twitter and facebook. I’ve seen them do Linked In also.

            If a potential hire had worked at a company I’d never heard of, and I was truly interested in the potential hire, I’d do some googles on the company.

            I don’t think this would work for a job of any substance. Maybe entry level where people didn’t really care about where you had worked?

          2. Anna*

            It doesn’t even need to be a lot of fake companies. They might use a rotating list of three or four companies depending on which skill set they need to fill time for.

        3. No Name*

          There are many companies who act as a mailing address for companies incorporating in Delaware (“registered agent” is the term). But it has nothing to do with hiding the true ownership of a company. The company needs a street address in Delaware so they can be served legal papers in Delaware if needed. The same applies for any state that a company does business in without having a physical office.

          What this fake-job company is doing has nothing to do with this at all.

        4. Blue Anne*

          There are a lot of companies in Delaware that do that. Delaware is a tax haven all by itself. It’s a “secrecy jurisdiction” – it’s a corporate black hole. Good luck trying to get any information on any corporation registered in Delaware no matter who you are. There’s one building with about 190,000 companies registered as being in it. It’s just basic good business – I found out recently that a friend’s startup is registered in Delaware. (I’m in Scotland.)

          Further, there are even ready-made corporations which have existed for a few years that you can buy for a couple hundred bucks and have in your name within 24 hours. So if anyone does a check, your company has been trading for years, the directors are named and have made copies of their passports available – but those directors make their money being directors for thousands of those companies, all of which basically just exist in their desk drawers.

          This is why I’m training in audit. I’m hoping to get into financial regulation from here. This stuff is fascinating.

          1. Corporate lawyer*

            This is an old thread, but I still want to chime in and say it’s completely wrong. Delaware is not really a “tax haven,” because Delaware corporations are still subject to federal income tax and state income tax in jurisdictions where they operate. Delaware certificates of incorporation are also easily obtainable from the Delaware Secretary of State.

            Companies incorporate in Delaware because Delaware has a well-developed body of corporate law, and if a corporate law question comes up, it’s likely that Delaware courts have considered the issue before, or one like it; that’s not true in most other states.

      2. Aaron Gullison*

        Google Maps is not super accurate in their locations. The markers for some businesses are wildly inaccurate.

    2. LBK*

      Right? The main thing I’m stuck on is how you’d talk about that “current” job in an interview – you’d have to fabricate work experience there if they asked you any questions at all about what you’re currently doing, projects you’ve worked on recently, what feedback you get from your current manager, etc. I suppose you could just swap in details from actual former jobs, but then you’re still lying throughout the entire hiring process, not just on your resume.

      1. Honeybee*

        And then into casual conversations at work…I just started my job two weeks ago and my other newish coworkers and I trades stories about our last positions relatively frequently. I’ve had lunches with a bunch of coworkers who have been here longer and we’ve spent some time talking about where I came from professionally. So if you ever had casual conversations about this stuff, you’d have to make it up then, too.

        1. madge*

          Seriously. Then you have the stress of remembering everything you’ve told everyone so you can maintain the facade. I can’t even remember if I wore today’s shoes last week.

          1. TychaBrahe*

            You obviously don’t roll play. OK, neither do I, but I have friends who do, and their characters, of whom they sometimes have several, have long and complete life stories. And they remember these *details*.

            “Oh, yeah, this character has the Moorsblood Cloak that grants the user +1 speed and +15 chance to hit with magical weapons. I found it in a cave on the quest to the Elven Keep that I ran with Tony and Susan and Jack back in March of 2012. I had to defeat a roomful of orcs, but Margot the Unrisen, Susan’s half-elf/half-lamia character, had the Two-handed Blade of Screaming Death, so it wasn’t too bad.”

              1. Elsajeni*

                Plus, that’s stuff that you have, in a way, actually experienced — it’s made up, yes, but it’s not made up by you as you’re telling someone about it. It’s more like being able to recount the plot of a movie you saw, with lots of details about the characters and settings, than trying to maintain a web of lies with internal consistency. (And anyway, I don’t know about you, but my friends and I get our role-playing stories wrong all the time. “What are you talking about? Margot didn’t have the Blade of Screaming Death yet, she found that like six months later in Castle Ravenloft!”)

              2. Pinkie Pie Chart*

                Well, maybe you do… :) My husband is the note taker of our group. I don’t even take notes when I’m running the game.

                1. Anna*

                  I tend to not either, and now I’ve realized nobody else is either. *sigh*

                  It could be they can look up client info. “Hi, I’m calling to verify employment for Bob Steven.” “I didn’t work directly with Bob Steven, but let me pull up his employee file. Can I put you on hold?” Easy as pie.

      2. A Minion*

        That’s exhausting just thinking about it! There is WAY too much effort that has to go into maintaining that type of deception. Makes me think of sitcoms – that’s the type of thing you’d see on prime time TV. Recent college grad living at home fakes a job so his parents will get off his back, hijinks ensue…..

    3. T*

      It would depend on your location. A service like this would probably be more ideal if you were relocating. But I think it would be tough to list a company supposedly in the same industry and in the same city. Maybe it could pass in NYC or DC but probably not in my city.

      Your industry would matter too. An IT consultant could be easier because you would be talking to the “staffing company” that placed her. Though I usually take the opposite approach and use the manager from my previous job and not the staffing company who is likely just repeating what the manager said anyway.

    4. brighidg*

      I have never had my references checked and I now work in a job that requires me to have TSA security clearance. They check my criminal background and SS# and that’s about it. I had one job where I was hired on the spot (low-level clerical/telesales thing) and they said they wouldn’t bother with a background check because “I looked so honest.”

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Ugh, I was once being security checked with a colleague, and mine was waved through with no checks, while his was held up for months… I’ve got a classically British-Irish name, his is British-Pakistani…. but oh no, it was total coincidence, said the bosses, as we both ground our teeth, even when we found out the same thing was happening in other regional offices…

        (Of course, in the 1980s it would have been the other way round, which just makes it stupider – names are not indicators of security safety ffs)

    5. Honeybee*

      I was just going to say the exact same thing. If they are advertising their services online, that means both candidates and employers can find their information. Besides, there are other ways besides asking the company directly for your work history – what if they ask for a paystub or a W-2? I was asked for a W-2 during my background check when the company couldn’t verify my employment at a place I interned.

      1. Shan*

        This is what I was thinking. What if the interviewer has heard of this company and their services? If anyone looking for a job can find out about them, then so can a hiring manger. Like Alison said, it could even be a reference or request for documentation that outs you.

        There are just so many ways to fill a gap in a resume that are legit: staffing agencies, temp jobs, freelancing, even volunteering.

        1. Traveler*

          Right but I would guess that the company doing the faking is wise enough not to put the fake job in their name. Meaning FakeJobs Inc. is not going to list John Doe as a manager at FakeJobs Inc. They are going to make it Manager at TotallyLegitimate Co. Ltd.

          The bigger issue would probably be the phone number. You can google a phone number and find information – there might be other managers reporting it, or they might find that it actually reaches a cell phone in PA when its supposed to be for a brick and mortar company in CA.

      2. Ad Astra*

        How common is it to ask for a paystub or W-2? I hear about it a lot on AAM but it’s never come up in any of my job searches and I’ve never heard any friends or family mention it. Are there certain industries that use it more often than others?

        I would, however, be worried that applicants who use this service wouldn’t pass a reasonably thorough background check. The Forbes article doesn’t seem to address that.

        1. Interviewer*

          Some sales roles (or recruiters for sales roles) ask for paystubs and W-2s to confirm wages, commissions, and bonuses earned. Very annoying trend.

    6. Artemesia*

      There is this great site ‘Ashley Madison’ and what is great about it is how would anyone ever know? This thing is a time bomb waiting to go off.

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      I just cannot imagine any industry large enough that a “business” like this wouldn’t develop a reputation fairly immediately.

      1. Daisy*

        I presume the name of the business that offers this service and the business you would be claiming to have worked for would not be the same- they probably have quite a few shell companies on the go.

        1. AVP*

          That’s what I was thinking – they probably have a network of 5-10 different made-up companies that they can “place” you at, with different websites and phone numbers, but they really all go back to the same company (which has a different name).

          That said, if I ever caught anyone at this I would definitely put the name of the fake company online so other HMs could find it. And they must be at least a little suspicious – you can create a website and a phone line, but you can’t fake years of outside press clippings, yellow pages, ads, events, social media, etc. [I mean, I guess technically you can but it seems unlikely.]

    8. Stranger than fiction*

      Exactly do they magically add the job to his credit history? Create tax documents etc? I doubt it. They probably just are available for calls for fake verification and that’s it. Oh and another time it could come out is if the Op is up for promotion and they do some checking at that time.

      1. Anna*

        Why would they check if you were up for a promotion? Shouldn’t a promotion be based on what you’ve been doing at the company you’re currently working for? If they catch it at that time, then it’s still an integrity issue but it doesn’t seem like they’re creating what experience you have, just who you have it with.

  3. Ad Astra*

    I can understand how tempting it would be when you’re feeling desperate and you really believe that your employment gap is what’s holding you back, but this is a bad idea. If it doesn’t work out and you’re somehow exposed, the damage to your professional reputation could be huge. And I don’t know your financial situation, OP, but if you’re feeling desperate for work then you’re likely short on cash, and this feels like a bad use of your money. This company says the goal is to get people back to work, but it comes off to me as a way to prey on desperate people. It’s the payday loan of employment services.

    Would free-lancing or temping be a workable option for you? What about volunteer work in a related field?

    1. AMG*

      This. Find honest ways to account for your gap. You’ll be putting good Karma into your life instead of bad. I really do understand the temptation, especially after a year. But it’s not worth the long-term issues. Hang in there and please give us an update. You will be in my thoughts.

    2. Spooky*

      That was my thought as well. It’s easy to say “no, that’s a terrible idea” when you’re employed, but being on the other side of the situation is an entirely different situation. I know how terrifying it can be to think that, not only do you not have a job, but the lack of one may mean you never get a job.

      I think freelancing is a good solution, if it’s at all feasible, as is doing any kind of volunteer or side work in your field. Another possible solution: is there any sort of certificate or short-term class you could take online that might be relevant? That way, you’ve got something that fills the gap AND makes you more marketable – I know that MediaBistro offers lots of specialized programs like social media metrics, or you could do an intensive Adobe course for certification. They can be expensive, but they’re a much better use of your money than this company. Plus, once you get certified, you can continue working toward a teaching certificate – I know Adobe and maybe Final Cut (if I remember correctly) offer a test to become a certified teacher. Then you’d at least be working part-time and gaining experience with programs you’d use. Obviously, these examples are all media-skewed because that’s what my experience is in, but I’m sure you can find something in your field.

    3. W.*

      Temping, freelancing, volunteering are all much better options, which may give OP skills and real references.
      I’m also unemployed, at the half way point of OP, I really couldn’t face temping, as I’ve done it before and it felt both time sucking and soul sucking – although I felt I would have to do it soon due to money and Job gap. I found a part time, short term job in an area of interest instead which is close by – although at the moment it’s just a lead. It’s made me feel so much less stressed and much better about myself. I was also looking in to babysitting and other low key part time work, so I could earn some money, feel worthwhile and less stressed and also keep hunting for jobs. OP finding anything related to your field (if possible) would be better than this dummy corp. Think creatively and don’t give up – good luck!

    4. Nikki T*

      Some community colleges and Universities have volunteer opportunities, teaching outreach/personal interest classes. Community colleges often have outreach areas for the unemployed, free classes & trainings, I’ve started seeing community job fairs too. Libraries often have flyers posted for community events, boys & girls clubs even….

      You’re in an awful bind but better options are out there in places you may not have looked.

      I wish you all the best.

    5. sam*

      This. take it from someone who was unemployed for two years during the financial crisis (and then temped for over two years after that). Do not lie.

      During my “break”, I spent a lot of time helping my dad with his small business. it wasn’t a job, per se (he didn’t pay me, other than in free meals), it was just something to do to fill some free time, and it was completely unrelated to my actual career (I’m a lawyer), but my outplacement counselor helped me figure out how to put it on my resume in an honest way (separate section titled “non-legal work history” below my “legal work history” with a description that included the fact that it was a family business). But it helped me fill in the gap, and the fact that my dad does something kind of interesting and unique was a good conversation point.

        1. sam*

          ha! I actually threw in the “I’m a lawyer” after I wrote the whole thing because I realized that it would help clarify things!

          Helping my dad keep track of online orders, vendors and fixing his website were definitely not things that required my law degree.

    6. Annoy Sumo*

      Payday loans was my first thought too. And I think that’s a good way to think of how someone would consider this. Alison is describing it as “get a job dishonestly vs get a job honestly” and warning of long-term consequences. But someone thinking about this is probably just thinking of it as “get a job dishonestly vs be unemployed honestly” and preoccupied with surviving in the present. Saying that in the future it might damage their professionalism and affect their ability to get hired doesn’t have as much weight when they are facing financial and other stresses right now. They may not see any other options to even get to the future. Just like a payday loan will affect someone’s ability to get financial stable and impact their future credit, but that doesn’t weigh as much to someone desperate to pay rent and pay bills and eat right now. They don’t need “don’t do this, it’s a bad idea”… they need “here is a better solution, do this instead” that some commenters are offering.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Adding to that: It’s impossible to know if this service is the reason the clients found work. It’s possible that successful clients would have found work with their current company even if they didn’t pay for a fake job history. It’s also possible that the OP would spend (what I consider) a large chunk of money on this service and remain unemployed.

        We’ve all laid out the risks, but it’s important to remember that the reward is definitely not a given. In this way, it’s a little more like buying a lottery ticket than a payday loan (though your odds of getting a job are better than winning the lottery).

    7. One of the Sarahs*

      I was going to suggest volunteer work too – it has that three-fold benefit of something on your CV, actual applicable work experience (maybe in a field you hadn’t considered) and it gets you out of the house, and out of any despair, by giving you something else to think about.

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Honestly, this service really isn’t all that different from Ashley Madison.  Both of them are purport to help people in need in extremely unethical, but not illegal, ways.  Both claim to be reliable, caring, professional, and discreet.  But you need to understand that in both of these cases, there are many incentive$ for them to make these claims.

    Ashley Madison was asking to get hacked, and so is this business if its customer base continues to grow because your average person doesn’t like being duped.  

    Don’t do this unless you feel like ending up in a data dump that Gawker will be snarking on in 5-10 years time.  

    1. Sigrid*

      Ashley Madison also made most of its money by outright fraud – most of the ‘women’ paid members (who were 95% male) talked to were bots. What makes you think this company wouldn’t be doing the job-search equivalent?

        1. Dan*

          Advertising jobs that are “guaranteed” to be $100k/yr or more and charging $30/mo for it. And then publishing ads that the site has no actual indication from the hiring company as tow what the pay truly is.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Pretending that they will do everything to create the appearance of a legitimate employer, and then doing a great impersonation of a scammy website when an employer actually does check into them.

    2. LQ*

      +all the things!

      This was just what I was thinking of reading this.

      And also AM/Avid made all kinds of claims that made them look “legit” but based on what we can see now? None of it is true. They sure did hook people up sometimes, and sure some of the people using this company will be fine. But do you want to be the person who is being strung along and paying to talk to bots in Angels?

      (On the other hand I am loving every post from Annalee at the Gawker empire, she seems to be rolling around in the data digging for all kinds of things and finding all of them.)

  5. Kyrielle*

    What Alison said; this is wrong, and incredibly risky. And honestly, I think a hiring manager who *did* check on it and discovered the lie might actually judge someone who paid for the lie even more harshly than someone who foolishly lied out of desperation, but did it on their own.

    Have you looked for volunteer opportunities to get a good reference and keep your skills up (or at least, show that you are doing so)? There are some very kind and caring people out there doing good work in non-profits who might be able to help you, not with earning money, but at least with something you can put on your resume to show you were not simply sitting at home watching daytime TV. (Not that you should have to show that – anyone in this economy ought to understand that it’s hard out there – but if you’re desperate and wanting to fill the gap, fill it with something real, not with a yarn.)

    Also, until you land the next job, that’s money better spent on rent and food. I do get that sometimes you have to invest money to get a result, but this is not the way to do so, and these are not the people to do it with.

    They aren’t nice and caring. They are preying on you and others like you.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Good point in your first paragraph: Paying for a lie comes off as a far bigger integrity problem than just making up your own lie.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Also, are there free online courses you could take (Coursera, Edx, Udacity, etc.) that could teach you skills related to your field, which you could also potentially use to show you’re continuing to keep work-focused and also maybe give you a leg up on skillsets you may need?

      (Most or all of them will be happy to charge you for a certificate, but unless you know that will have value, I’d give it a miss in most cases – the free version will let you learn all the information. And I say that as someone with several verified certificates on her LinkedIn – I was going for a Coursera specialization in an area that was directly relevant to $LastJob and would also have been a neat springboard when job searching. I didn’t do the capstone, because by then I had a new job and it was totally irrelevant. I may yet go back and do the capstone, but I’m not sure. It’s a fascinating topic to me, so I might. But it’s irrelevant to the shape I see my career taking for the next decade, so I might not.)

    3. HR Recruiter*

      I agree. There are more ethical options to exhaust first.

      Volunteering is a great way to fill in a large employment gap on your resume. It is also a networking opportunity to work with new people who may know someone who is hiring.

      Make sure Everyone you know, knows you are looking for work. Managers are more likely to look past your long unemployment if you are being referred by one of their valued employees.

      A great cover letter professionally explaining gaps in employment also goes a long way.

      Good luck!

  6. The IT Manager*

    What Alison and everyone else said. They’re lying for money. They’re not “nice and caring.” They’re con artist. If this comes out you get hurt, not them. You’re under financial stress, and they want to take your money.

    You’re getting desperate, they’re playing on that. You’re not a bad person, but this is a bad idea. I suspect that the reason you asked Alison for advice is because you now you shouldn’t do this, but your desperation is talking. It’s not worth the impact of being caught or the years of fear of maybe being caught one day.

  7. FD*

    Obviously, Alison and the others have covered the obvious.

    That being said, it’s really, really easy to understand how tempting this would be. Being unemployed is terrifying, financially and emotionally. It puts you into frankly a very vulnerable state–and people like this firm take advantage.

    It might be helpful to step back and look at what might be causing this. Have you had interviews at all? If not, how are your resume and cover letter–based on this site’s advice, not on the terrible job advice you’re getting everywhere else?

    If you have had interviews, have any of your interviewers given you any feedback, or have you practiced with a friend? It’s possible you’re coming across differently than you intend to.

    Or, is something in your work history a red flag? For example, have you job hopped in the past, or were you terminated for cause at your last work place? If so, can you do anything that might help smooth that out, such as being ready to talk about it in your interview, or maybe even in your cover letter?

    Alternatively, is your field just very niche and there aren’t any jobs in your area? If that’s the case, have you used Alison’s advice for searching for out-of-state jobs? Are there any freelance gigs you could land?

    I’m not sure if any of those help, but if any of these are true, it might help you find actionable and honest steps you can take to fix your situation.

    1. Mike C.*

      That being said, it’s really, really easy to understand how tempting this would be. Being unemployed is terrifying, financially and emotionally. It puts you into frankly a very vulnerable state–and people like this firm take advantage.

      This is really the take home message here. I can image that a whole lot of us here would start considering desperate measures like these if we hadn’t seen a regular paycheck for almost a year.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes. I feel really bad for the OP. I can see how it would be a tempting thing to do. I keep hearing how the economy is getting so much better, but I have a son who is really under-employed and he has been sending out resumes for 9 months and hasn’t even gotten 1 interview yet. (I think he has a problem resume but that’s another discussion). It’s very discouraging.

        1. Mike C.*

          I was having similar issues until I had a professional rewrite my resume. It was insane how quickly I was hired after that.

      2. AnonForThis*

        Yep, it’s rough. My boyfriend was unemployed for two years, and towards the end when it was clear that the gap was killing him, we talked about possibly putting his dad’s company on his resume for at least part of the gap, since he had worked there in the past. He didn’t end up doing it, and it’s a little horrifying that we even considered it, but those lines start to get pretty blurry when you’re that desperate.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Which is exactly what makes these “nice and caring” people so vile. They are deliberately preying on the desperation of people like the OP – and laughing all the way to the bank while desperate jobseekers deal with the fallout of their con game.

      4. Golden Yeti*

        I’m really glad to see this one hasn’t turned into a pile on. I’ve been very discouraged in a multi-year job search with a current job; I can’t even imagine the panic I would feel coming up on a year with no job at all.

        In short, I agree with everyone else: 1-don’t do it, 2-consider other options like temping, part time work, volunteering, or free e-learning classes (I’ve used Coursera before and it was quite good).

        But with that said, I’ll be thinking about you OP, and I hope you can report back with some good news soon.

      5. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I wouldn’t blame someone for doing this, at all. I know what it feels like to be convinced you will never be able to support yourself. I mentioned in a tnread a couple days ago that I judge people’s actions in large part by their circumstances, and this is a perfect example.

  8. Lily in NYC*

    Regardless of the integrity issue, I just think this is too risky. What if they hire a bad employee who starts secretly blackmailing people who use their services? There are just so many ways this can backfire. I know at my company, when they want to get rid of someone but don’t have a tangible reason, the first thing they do is start looking for something they can use as “cause” – they will go over your resume with a fine tooth comb and start looking at your emails and website visits.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Like certain 19th-century courtesans, who would write their memoirs and send letters to their former clients informing them that they could keep their names out of the book for $SumOfMoney.

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Yes, I would worry blackmail is part of the business plan – and also, what happens if you want to move jobs in the future, and they up their fees for second-time around? While I can completely empathise with the OP, this isn’t a service you’d need just once, because even if you get a job and stay in it until retirement, you might want to apply for internal promotions etc – and even if you didn’t, what happens if they call in 6 months saying they need more money from you?

  9. Stephanie*

    Whoa. I didn’t know this was A Thing. OP, if it’s any reassurance, I’ve gotten interviews and job offers with far longer gaps than that. You’d be better off doing volunteer work/a survival job or using the money you’d spend on this toward on additional schooling or certification (if that’s needed).

      1. F.*

        I was a homemaker/raising children for 13 years. I openly listed it on my resume, including the skills required to manage a household on one (small) wage and advocating for a special needs child. I got a temp job the first place I registered and had regular full-time employment two months later. Do NOT lie. I would rather hire someone with impeccable integrity and a year (or more) gap in employment than someone who has been continuously employed and has questionable integrity. I might add that the field in which I work is rather small, and the employers in the region are well-known. I will research and find out.

    1. Anonicorn*

      I’ve gotten interviews and job offers with far longer gaps than that.

      Ditto. I understand that it can really wear on you and cause utter desperation, been there, done that. I think it’s probably a lot more common now and something many managers are going to overlook more often than not.

    2. Aussie Teacher*

      I just got a job three weeks ago after 5 years as a SAHM. The only thing they asked in regards to my work gap was “What sort of professional development are you currently engaged in?” (although I was also prepared for “What have you been doing to keep your skills sharp over the last 5 years?”). Luckily I am a choral specialist (and music teacher) and was able to talk about the professional choir I joined earlier this year specifically for the purpose of keeping my choral skills sharp.

  10. KJR*

    For what it’s worth OP, as someone who’s hired hundreds of people, a year’s gap in employment is not something I even think about when deciding whether to hire an applicant or not, especially with the way the economy and job market have been in recent years. Please don’t do this, it’s just not worth the risk involved.

    1. Grey*

      Yes. Unless you work in a field where jobs are really easy to get, I wouldn’t worry about a one-year gap as long as your references are solid.

    2. TootsNYC*


      Believe me, I know how hard it can be to get a job, and how stiff the competition can be. So if you haven’t gotten a job in a year, that doesn’t actually tell me anything about you–at least, that’s my take.

      If your resume and cover letter make a good case, I’ll probably call you in. I’ll be alert, of course, for things that indicate what your energy level might be, or your professionalism–but honestly, I look for those anyway, just maybe not as clearly.

    3. Artemesia*

      It would be better to focus on ways to keep your resume warm. My daughter lost her job while on maternity leave when her whole regional office was shut down. She didn’t want to jump immediately into a full time job with a newborn and so did consulting, and free lance gigs so that during the time she was not employed she had a history of work and accomplishment. Of course it is easier to sell this as choice when you have a new baby, but I know men who have taken time off and done temp work or occasional consulting gigs to keep their hand in. Volunteer work especially if it relates at all to the profession you are in can also keep the resume warm.

    4. Former HR Student*

      Kudos to you — you are in the extreme minority. Studies have shown that most people become significantly less employable after 6 months of unemployment, with some people being viewed as less attractive if they have been out of work at all — even for less than a week. The only reason that “Unemployed candidates will not be considered.” has not become a standard part of HR practice is because there was a huge public outcry leading to legislation, not because anyone within the business community recognized themselves how foolish it was to allow HR to do this.

      Unless you are a small business, the political risks of hiring always outweigh the economic gains to the company from hiring new employees. If HR comes to you with a sob story about how they just can’t find “qualified” people for you to select from, the blame is placed on the market, the budget, etc. On the other hand, if they pass along a string of unqualified candidates, it exposes their own poor training and the blame is placed on their department.

      I think the technical term for this is a “principal / agent problem”, and it is often under-appreciated in the world of HR.

  11. Anonymous Educator*

    Not addressing this shady business directly, I’d be curious what other hiring managers think about gaps in employment. I’m no longer involved in hiring. When I was, though, I didn’t really care about gaps in employment, as long as I knew the candidate was doing something—caring for a sick relative, being a stay-at-home parent, maintaining a personal blog, or teaching herself Python. Am I the only one who feels this way?

    1. LookyLou*

      In our office a gap is only acceptable if it can be explained. My boss often questions long gaps and wants to know if the person was taking classes, travelling, reflecting, caring for someone, writing, volunteering… anything that is productive looks good to him. But if the person is literally just looking for work during that long gap and has done nothing other than surf the web in pyjamas, that is not someone my boss wants to have on our team. To him it shows a lack of initiative because while job searching can be a full time job, there is time being wasted if that is all you are doing. He would worry that once employed it is the type of person who wouldn’t be constantly looking for work or to improve, they’d just be riding the wave of work and waiting for the next to come to them.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I guess I think the way your boss does. Searching for a job is not a full-time job. It is a job and can take a lot of time and energy, but every time I’ve searched for a job I’ve also been working a full-time job and haven’t felt I’ve been working two full-time jobs. While it can be nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing and take time, you shouldn’t be searching for a job 40 hours a week or you’re doing it wrong. I fully agree with your boss that you should be doing something else besides looking for a job, whether it’s temping or volunteering or taking a free online class…. something!

        1. Artemesia*

          I know someone who took a couple of years off just because he felt like it. When he was ready to go back to work and started looking, it took him less than a month to have 3 great offers. It helps to have skills but gaps are not always a big issue to employers.

        2. Dan*

          It depends on how “active” your search is. In my field, it’s actually quite common to get interviews out of town. If you’re actively interviewing, and get interest across the country, travel is a huge time synch. I remember thinking to myself, “I couldn’t interview like this if I were currently employed.”

        3. neverjaunty*

          “Something” meaning “something the boss himself thinks he would be doing in his spare time if he were unemployed”, apparently.

        4. TheLazyB (UK)*

          Soon, in the UK, to get benefits jobseekers will have to provide EVIDENCE that they are spending 37 hours a week looking for work. I can’t even.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That is INSANE. It doesn’t even take that much time to do it these days–everything is online! How the bloody **** do they expect people to do this? Are they going to provide a time clock? :P

        5. Ad Astra*

          I definitely didn’t spend 40 hours per week job searching when I was unemployed, but I used the free time to:
          1. Relocate to a different state
          2. Take care of some medical appointments I’d been putting off
          3. Recover from the exhaustion of a 2-year stint in survival mode
          4. Take care of my mom after her multiple surgeries
          5. Celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family for the first time in years

          If I’d stayed unemployed more than 6 months, I might have added something that sounds more productive to the list, but I hope most managers are reasonable in their expectations of unemployed people. There are plenty of worthwhile things you can do that don’t involve work, and a period of unemployment is a good time to do a lot of them.

      2. BTownGirl*

        I think your boss should be careful with this type of thinking. Personally, I have a friend who had cancer and, after she was laid off, she took the time to recover back to full strength while looking for a new job. She didn’t share that information with hiring managers, because it’s none of their business. You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life and I think it’s better to rely on references from people who’ve worked closely with the candidate and your own experience of meeting them when making a judgement on what they would be like as an employee.

      3. Marcela*

        I don’t get that. If my time is “wasted” while I’m looking for a job, why does it matter to you (your boss)? If from that your boss conclude that I am not fiercely trying always to do my best… I truly don’t know what to say. Well, not really: I’ve always despised my ancestors’ idea that if I’m not doing something (useful) all the time, then I am not a good person/good worker. That’s simply not true. It’s not that I don’t do anything in my sabbatical years (for every time my husband changes job, there is a one year gap in my resume), but for example, I love to play old SNES games. I bet that’s not considered productive, even if for me playing games in English has been a great source of vocabulary. I can do very well without the judgment about my life outside jobs, thanks to be given to the great cat goddess.

    2. Honeybee*

      What if the “something” was just hunting for a job? Some people are unemployed because the job market is terrible and they can’t find something. Otherwise maybe they’re just living their life.

      1. BTownGirl*

        Agreed! What if while looking for work they decided to use the time to be a stay-at-home parent? What if the temp jobs in their area paid so little (not uncommon in a lot of places) it wasn’t worth the travel time/gas? What if they couldn’t afford to go back to school/travel?

        When I read this letter, it made me really sad that there are hiring managers so biased against people with employment gaps that people are actually resorting to this.

        1. Three Thousand*

          I have to think a lot of that perception comes from hiring managers in a bad economy who were/are delighted at having their pick of good employees and flattering themselves that they don’t have to even consider anyone but the best of the best. Of course unemployed people have a harder time finding jobs than employed people, but unemployment isn’t the automatic death sentence we learn to think of it as.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Sure. But they’re up against candidates who have been working and keeping their skills current during that time, and it’s not realistic to say hiring managers shouldn’t factor that in.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          Exactly. In these cases I think is even more important to have something such as volunteering, free classes through your library, low cost training courses in your field, something.

        2. BTownGirl*

          Totally agree – I’m saying that if they found a candidate who could be a great fit, knocking them out of the running over it is a little much. It’s funny, because I had an employment gap and I used the time to search and deal with an insanely complicated home renovation. I think it’s possible that it wasn’t a problem because it’s related to my field, but I did have one hiring manager have an issue with it. I think she had Other Issues though, because she decided I must be Fabulously Wealthy (*snort*) and actually said to me, “Your husband must make a lot of money!” Oy.

          In any event, thank God you’re here to steer people away from the scammers and grifters of the world!!

  12. Erin*

    Oh dear.

    What’s frustrating is that employers really are more likely to hire those who are already employed, which sucks so bad. Yes, you’d be cheating, but the system isn’t really fair to begin with – just because you haven’t worked in awhile doesn’t mean you would not be a great employee, and arguably you need the job more than those applying who already have jobs. I can certainly understand the temptation.

    That being said, I’d have to agree this is not worth the risk. You would feel crappy and guilty about it, and that could add to the stress and anxiety you’re already dealing with.

    What I would do, is volunteer like crazy (if you’re not already). I think often times employers hesitate to hire the unemployed not because they’re like, “Wow nobody else hired this person they must not be a valuable employee” but instead are thinking, “Wow this person has not had to keep a schedule or report to anyone in nine months, how are they going to transition back to 9 to 5 Monday through Friday?”

    If you can show that you’ve kept busy volunteering and/or keeping up in the industry that might just get you the interview. Through honest means. :)

    1. LadyTL*

      I kind of hate when people bring up volunteering when you are unemployed. Unless you live close enough to walk to where you volunteer, volunteering when unemployed is basically paying to pay rather then getting paid to work and often you really can’t afford that with other bills.

      1. Honeybee*

        That’s true, but many employers would prefer someone who could say they spent the year volunteering instead of being unemployed (which is dumb but unfortunately true), and sometimes volunteering can impart useful skills that you can bring back into the workplace.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Yes – it can help you with more than just filling a gap. You can build skills, make connections, and perhaps work on projects that are more “job you want” than “job you’ve had”.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But it’s applicable advice for lots of people and thus worth mentioning even if it doesn’t work for everyone. (But also, there are lots of volunteer jobs that can be done virtually and you don’t even have to leave your house.)

        1. Buggy Crispino*

          This thread probably isn’t the time or place, but I would love to know more about virtual volunteer work sometime. Maybe a future article or post?

        2. Charlotte Collins*

          Yes to this. VolunteerMatch can help you find these opportunities. And I don’t think that you need to volunteer somewhere that has to do with your career – local schools and parks, for example, often need help. If you’re being mercenary about it, you can think of the possible networking opportunities and references that you can get. Also, some employers like it when people have community involvement. People would rather work with someone who seems like they are a nice, engaged person, and that’s the image volunteers have.

        3. neverjaunty*

          While this is absolutely true, “have you considered volunteering” is way different than “you should be volunteering”, which is often heavily implied when it’s not explicitly stated. Not everybody is a single and/or childfree professional in an area where volunteering is freely available in areas that are beneficial to a jobseeker and come with no costs.

          Where I live, as an aside, it’s very difficult to get volunteer work because community service is an alternative to traffic fines and other minor court costs – so in this economy, people who are unemployed or otherwise can’t afford to pay choose community service. Places like the libraries have WAIT LISTS for volunteers because of this.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, I’ve done volunteer work, but it actually can be a little tough in my area if you look for the “obvious” stuff like the food bank or library. There are a lot of retirees and SAHMs in my immediate area, so sometimes volunteer work can be competitive (even requiring interviews) and have onerous requirements.

            When looking for volunteer work, I definitely had to hunt out more niche stuff.

            1. TCO*

              Good insight. When I used to manage volunteers, I was often skeptical about hiring those who were only volunteering for some kind of community-service requirement from their school, court, etc. While some were excellent volunteers, many didn’t have the kind of commitment I needed.

              Certain kinds of “common” roles or organizations probably attract the majority of these mandatory volunteers. Smaller organizations or those working on less-visible causes would probably prefer volunteers who are only their out of their own desire. But I can empathize with how hard it can be to find the right volunteer position.

      3. Ad Astra*

        It’s not going to work for everyone, but it’s worth suggesting. We don’t even know what the OP does or what resource she has. If she’s a professional grant writer who owns a working computer and has access to wifi, writing some grants for a nonprofit she cares about might make sense. If she’s a chemical engineer with no savings and no income from her spouse (or no spouse), maybe driving across town to work at a soup kitchen isn’t a great idea. It really just depends.

        When I was collecting UI, my friends and family were constantly telling me about part-time gigs or survival jobs, not realizing that my unemployment benefits paid more than these jobs. But I can’t fault them for trying to help.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had people say this to me a couple of times when I was on UI. Well, I HATE volunteering–if that makes me a bad person, then sorry. I just don’t like it. I worked disaster relief after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in California with Red Cross and though it wasn’t a bad experience, that was my contribution for life, thanks. I’d rather do other things for people or donate money or items.

          And same here with the part-time jobs. I temped the first bout of unemployment, because my wages were low enough that UI didn’t cover much, and it ran out quickly. But the second, after six years at Exjob, allowed me to take a little more time choosing. Plus, they had those extra tiers because of the recession.

          Believe me, I looked at those survival jobs, but around here, even full-time jobs paying minimum wage would not have been worth the gas to drive back and forth. I got one offer for a job I kind of wanted, until I discovered it would have left me with $14 left over at the end of the month. The crumbling vehicle I owned at the time made that a nope.

      4. Anonymous Educator*

        I get your general critique of this advice, but in this specific instance the OP was going to pay money to a company to fake a job. If you’re going to pay anything, might as well pay the cost of commuting to volunteer. As others have brought up, though, there are remote volunteer opportunities that don’t require physical presence.

      5. Kat M2*

        Many suggestions won’t work for everyone. And I’ve noticed that, without fail, anytime anyone anywhere mentions very general advice that may or may not apply to that specific person, someone (usually not the person asking for themselves) will inevitably try to point out the ten million ways in which that advice wouldn’t work. I get it-we could all be more conscious of privilege but at the same time, it ends up not being productive and it turns off the folks who really do need to check their privilege.

        My husband had a part time job that was just barely worth it for the two of us. He still did it-because the option was either work part time or have nothing to do. And I’m glad he did because it also gave him confidence (he didn’t have a lot of work experience), which led him to his next gig.

        Some of these things aren’t right. Some of them are definitely not fair. But they work. And if you want a job, you have to do what works.

    2. Erin*

      Thanks for the comments, all. I happen to live in an area with lots of volunteer opportunities, is where I was coming from, and I have my own transportation…which admittedly can add up with gas costs. Might be different for OP.

      Buy if the OP is on unemployment, presumably there is some money for food and etc. I think it’d be worth considering putting some of that “etc” money towards commuting to volunteer. But, maybe not. The idea is to *do something* productive during this time that would look appealing to hiring managers, and also increase your skills and sense of self worth.

      And I actually do do some of my volunteer work at home via posting on the organization’s website, and promoting events through social media, so that is possible too.

  13. Grey*

    They have never been caught? It’s more important to know if their clients have ever been caught. And really, how would they even know? They’d have to rely on everyone telling them if it happened.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Also, based on their model, wouldn’t they just be able to change their name if they were caught, then deny that they had anything to do with that “other” company?

      1. Steve*

        Any time someone tells you they’ve never had a problem with a customer, you know they are lying. Or to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they’re delusional or brand new to the business.

        The worst contractor I ever hired to work on my home told me he’d been in the business for 14 years and all of his customers had been happy. I do realize now that he didn’t actually say I was the first customer with a problem – so he’s surely still out there somewhere continuing to claim the same thing, and justifying it to himself.

  14. Lo*

    Okay so… I am going to agree with Alison here, as the other commentora are, that this is NOT a good idea. It is very easy to find out, but more importantly to me, in this conversation, is the mental toll. You will be obsessing about this for years to come, and I am sure it will be hard on you. Just as hard as the job search– but this is something that will eat at you, slowly but surely, if anyone brings up past employment (and in a new job, they will!).

    But.. Based on some googling it looks like this (link in response) is the only guy/company out there known for doing this… And apparently he does have a heart! Irrelevant though, to the larger conversation– this is still a dangerous idea!

    Please seek ways to care for yourself, letter writer. Take a walk, pet a kitten/puppy, and hug someone who is there for you (and say thank you!). You will get through this.

      1. Honeybee*

        He does sound like a nice guy but also a guy with gargantuan amounts of cognitive dissonance.

        “I’m not the one who’s really lying. It’s the members who are choosing to do this. I’m following their script. I haven’t twisted anyone’s arm.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I wouldn’t assume he has a heart. This is the kind of thing most people running such a service would say, even if they just saw an opportunity to make money. I’d actually argue he’s less likely to be a nice person, given that he’s preying on desperate people.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Ehhh, I find that a bit of a fuzzy area. Is a grocery store preying on desperate people because they require money in exchange for food, even if you’re starving and broke? All services are playing on some manner of desperation, and at the very least he does provide the service and it works as advertised, unlike something like those weight loss vitamins.

          I’m not saying he’s a saint, just that he may really mean well to an extent. Though he does seem to realize how shady this is, since he points out his clients are choosing to lie, an act which could get them fired, and he’s pretty quick to absolve himself of responsibility for it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            He’s different from a grocery store, because he’s getting vulnerable people to spend money on a service with an incredibly high risk to themselves (and glossing over that and trying to assure them nothing will go wrong, when in fact there are tons of ways it could go wrong, like hearing the truth from other references). He’s in the same generatl category all the other job search snake oil purveyors — the video resume services, the fancy designed resume services, etc. — that promise take desperate people’s money in exchange for something that will hurt, rather than help, them. (But he’s worse, because the whole thing is built on deliberate lies and he’s telling people there’s low risk when there’s tons of risk.)

            1. Amber Rose*

              That’s a fair point.

              Still, I don’t think he’s the devil. And honestly, if you can use his services and not get caught for long enough to move to a new job without him, you probably wouldn’t ever get caught. Three jobs down the line, there’s no way for anyone to know if I once faked a job on a resume.

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                There is if you try to get certain government jobs. The background check is very thorough.

              2. jennie*

                This is something that can definitely come back to bite you if you ever moved into a job with a high profile, or into politics, where the public has some interest in your background and qualifications. This could easily come out far in the future and ruin someone’s career.

              3. neverjaunty*

                I don’t get this “well he’s not a saint”, “well he’s not the devil” – so what? The guys running three-card monte scams on city street corners aren’t the Prince of Darkness either, but they’re con artists, and they’re running a scam. I truly don’t understand this effort to soft-pedal the fact that the guy is taking money from desperate people and selling them the illusion of a ‘safe’ job to put on their resume.

                And if you think there’s “no way” for anyone to ever catch you out on this, think again. My own field is rife with stories of people being fired or disciplined (i.e. having their license yanked) because somebody did a routine check, or they were being promoted, and an ‘unimportant’ credential was found to have been exaggerated or outright made up.

              4. Ted Mosby*

                Noooooo that’s so untrue. What if you need to stay at that company? What if you’re promoted there and stay there long term? What if you want to apply to a new job and a coworker offers to pass your resume along, but your resume was a lie?

                Long, long ago, a family friend who is a sincerely sweet, kind, level headed person, lied on a job application. As I heard the story, she was a few credits shy of the degree she made up. She was a good person, she just young and foolish and wanted the job, any job.

                Well, 30 years later , she had moved up through all the ranks and was finally caught. She wasn’t just fired. She was the Admissions Director at MIT. She was fired very publicly. She has her own Wikipedia page completely about how she was caught and fired. She felt bad for the lie, but coming clean at any point would have meant getting fired without references.

                She is genuinely such a sweet person. She changed the MIT application so that students had to list one thing they do JUST for fun. She was a crusader for not putting ridiculous amounts of pressure on teens over the college admissions process. She wrote a celebrated book on the topic. People loved her at work. But she lived in fear of being caught.

                The mistake she made came back and bit her in the hind side decades later. OP, I don’t think you’re a bad person for thinking about this, but it would be a really bad choice.

            2. Katie the Fed*

              He’s the equivalent of a payday loan office. Sure, you’re “helping” people. But you’re also hurting them and are just going to sit there counting your money when they end up in trouble.

          2. LQ*

            So do the Avid/AM people they “meant well” to an extent. They were just providing a service that people wanted. (Talking to robots with pretty pictures.)

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              I’m a little more OK with conning people who are trying to do something unethical in the first place. Besides, to me this is not that different from those “party lines” that you see on late-night TV. Does anyone really think that attractive single women are waiting around their luxury apartments in skimpy clothing waiting for lonely guys to call and maybe, one day, meet them? The main issue here to me is that the company should have protected customer data better.

      2. LawBee*

        he doesn’t mean well. He agreed to lie for friends, then realized there was a money-making opportunity to exploit. Putting your dishonesty up for hire isn’t “meaning well”.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Please. Con artists are very, very good at seeming like they care and are just running their scams out of the goodness of their hearts, and certainly not at all for the money.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes…..they just HAPPEN to make money at it, and they’ll tell you they donate a large portion of that money to puppies and kittens and whatever else you want to hear after they’ve talked to you for a while and you’ve spilled your guts to them.

    1. Observer*

      OP, if this is the service you are looking at, then you REALLY need to stay away. Think about this for a minute – people know about him. What makes you think that someone is not going to go after him? He makes a juicy target…

      1. Honeybee*

        He interviewed for a prominent magazine. He (presumably) used his real name. If I were running a super-secret service that I wanted to stay super-secret, I wouldn’t do either of those things!

  15. matcha123*

    I’m torn on this.

    In a perfect world, employers wouldn’t fault someone for being out of the workforce for an extended period. Perhaps the person was taking care of family. Perhaps there was always one other person who was just a little better…who knows? Any number of things that are not “bad” at all.
    However, we don’t live in a perfect world. And many commenters have posted before saying they don’t take volunteer work as seriously as full-time paid work. I’ve read comments that imply that the out-of-work person must have a bad personality or have something wrong with them to keep them unemployed for months or years.

    Certainly taking the honest route is best, but people have bills to pay. Not everyone has a safety net/network. Even if no one is explicitly saying “sucks to be you,” that’s kind of how it ends up. Things don’t always work out in the end for good people. So, with that said, I can understand why the OP would want to use such a service.

  16. Katie the Fed*

    No, please don’t do this, OP! Think of all those people on Ashley Madison who thought they’d be safe too! The truth comes out, and even if it doesn’t it’ll be hanging over you. This company will eventually be outed and companies will do a check to see who among their staff claimed to work there, and you’ll be gone.

    I had a contractor who we discovered falsified a year of history on his resume. He was desperate to get the minimum amount of experience that the contract required. The thing is he had been employed, just not employed in the field. But when we discovered his falsification, we had to remove him. It was DEVASTATING. He left in tears and I was sorry to see him go because he was actually really smart and hard working. I’ve actually stayed in touch with him because he’s a decent person who made a bad decision because he was desperate. But getting fired for falsification of credentials is far worse than an employment gap.

    1. Daisy Steiner*

      Yes, this just sounds like the LW is setting themselves up for the first couple of seasons of Suits! If you haven’t watched it, believe me – both Mike and Harvey go through a LOT of grief and hassle over Mike’s made-up law degree.

  17. Amber Rose*

    I understand. I too have been tempted by blatantly bad ideas out of desperation. I have even followed through on occasion. But this is not going to be helpful. I have never had a positive result from moves made when I was desperate.

    If you want to close the gap, do it legitimately by volunteering part time or something while you job hunt. Don’t put your future at risk by telling lies you may not be able to back up, and don’t waste your savings on people who have no problem screwing you over. You’re better than that.

  18. Sunshine Brite*

    I know it feels desperate but don’t do it. Find a nearby volunteer opportunity you can do in the meantime to show that you remain active, preferably in your field of course, but something that adds value to your community and interests you. There are volunteer opportunities everywhere from caring for people, nature, animals, bookkeeping, administrative tasks, writing, food, housing, illness, advocacy, etc. What are your talents? It will both distract from this job search, give you an opportunity to build skills and put something in the gap, and refocus you at the same time.

  19. NickelandDime*

    I feel bad for the OP because I’ve been laid off before and it took a long time to find something. Hang in there! It took me 16 months and it’s hard. It messes with your finances, your self-esteem, and your relationships. But Alison is right. Don’t take this route. I know it’s tempting and you’re at a low point. But you will get through this, you will get another job and you’ll be glad you took the high road. And I don’t believe these people either. How would they know if someone got caught and would they tell the truth if they knew?

  20. Art Education*

    Don’t do this. If they’re willing to lie to an employer, think about what they’ll be willing to lie to you about or lead you into for that “small fee” or whatever fees might be added to it later.

    And if they say they’ve never been caught, I think that means a few things:

    a) Their customers were caught. They, themselves, had some plausible deniability or a way to blame their customers.
    b) Their customers were caught, but rather than being “called out,” their resumes were thrown out.
    c) They miraculously haven’t been caught yet. Do you want to be the first one?
    d) They are lying liars who lie.

    1. Honeybee*

      B is a really good point- they’ve never been caught to their knowledge. It could be that some of their clients did get caught but were unaware because the hiring manager just tossed their resume before they even contacted them. And maybe some other clients got caught but just never told them.

    2. L McD*

      You know how people say you shouldn’t get into a relationship with somebody who was cheating on their SO to be with you? Because they’ve already shown you what kind of person they are? You don’t WANT to believe that the same thing applies to YOUR relationship with them, but…yeah. This is the same thing.

      The people saying “this company is literally in the business of lying, so they are probably going to lie to you too if it benefits them” are hitting the nail SQUARELY on the head. They’re telling you exactly what kind of company they are. A company that lies. A company that lies *really well.* Don’t trust that you’re the exception just because you’re the one paying them.

  21. Observer*

    Do NOT do this. I won’t beat the horse on the integrity issue – I think Allison covered that quite clearly. Just realize that self-respect is not a “luxury”. It’s a necessity. Which means that doing this will have repercussions you haven’t really thought through.

    It’s not surprising, which leads me to agree vehemently with all the people who said that these guys are preying on your desperation. You’ve failed to look at so many possible issues, and that is what they are banking on – quite literally. They are making bank deposits on the backs of people who are too desperate to think clearly.

    The Ashley Madison comparison is quite apt. Avid Life (the company running the site) made a lot of promises that they absolutely did NOT keep. Which is not surprising – they are in the business of helping people cheat so why would anyone think they won’t help themselves cheat? Beyond that, there is the issue of getting caught in the crossfire of someone else’s issues. The millions of guys who have been caught out were not directly being targeted. But, someone had an issue with Avid Life, and went after them this way. What makes you think some hacker won’t go after these “kind and caring” people? One thing is certain – if they really believe that putting them in as a current employer will really protect you from getting caught, they are useless at understanding how to keep your information even minimally safe.

    The bottom line is that even if you don’t care about integrity, using this service makes you a total sitting duck. It’s like painting a target on your back in a shooting range and hoping no one shoots. Not a good strategy.

    1. Allison*

      Seriously, all it takes is one indignant person with hacking skills to say “I’m not getting work because these people are lying on their resumes and beating me out for jobs!” and hack away to expose both the company and its client base.

  22. MLHD*

    And what happens if a potential employer has a mutual contact, calls them up for a reference and the person says “Well I know Jane has been unemployed for the last 9 months, but she’s a great worker and you should hire her!” Hiring manager says, “Really? Her resume says she’s been working at Caramel Coffeepots Inc. for the last 9 months?”

  23. brighidg*

    I’m going to go against the grain and say lying on your resume is not the worst thing ever but not to be stupid about it because then it will definitely bite you in the butt. Yes, integrity blah blah blah but sometimes you need to eat. That said, I would only ever lie about low-level clerical or retail work to another job on the same level. So if interviewing for Target night stock person, I would tell them I had worked for Wal-mart as a stock person. I would not say I was president or CEO of Teapots Inc for several years because that’s just asking to be found out. I would also not intend for Target to be a career and would use that job to leverage myself into another job so I could drop the fictional work experience from my resume asap.

    And if you’re wondering, yes, I have lied on my resume in the past. The recession sucked hard and it’s unreasonable to expect people to have perfect resumes. It worked for me but I did get lucky. I would prefer to rely on a friend than some random company. OP, do you have anyone willing to say you worked in their start-up or was their personal assistant or something that could vaguely relate to your field?

    1. some1*

      The friend pretending you are working for them is still shady as hell (and could still be caught), but at least no one is profiting on someone already down on his luck.

      1. brighidg*

        It is but honestly, depending on where you live and the season, some volunteering jobs want resumes with references so they can screen people. Temp agencies are turning people away. It’s tough out there and I can honestly say there are times when I only got a job because I was willing to send out up to 100 resumes a day to every job that I could possibly do and be a little shady if I had to.

        (Also, it probably helps that I’m now in sales where persistence with a dash of shadiness is seen as a virtue rather than a vice.)

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          My experience is that some places give you more hoops to jump through to volunteer. If you want to work with kids or animals, expect to be asked for references. If you want to help clean up a park or community festival, they might just ask you to show up. Also, if you belong to any organizations, it’s always easier to volunteer. (Perhaps even run to be on the board of a local chapter.)

    2. Kat M2*

      If your integrity catches up with you, well, it doesn’t matter because you wont’ be able to eat in the long run.

      Also, we have the Internet now. People can figure things out.

      Plenty of us on this board found ways to eat without compromising our integrity. Not a good strategy.

  24. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t understand how this even works…If the hiring mgr or HR person never heard of the fictitious company, wouldn’t they try to google it or look it up on Linked In to see where the candidate is employed? When they don’t find anything, then what?

  25. NinaK*

    I feel for you, this can’t be easy! I side with the people saying please don’t do it. There are so many ways you can get caught.

    When reading your letter I thought, how many resumes have you sent out in the last 9 months with the employment gap – how many real resumes are out there in your industry among your network? You can’t release a second resume without the fear that a hiring manager/recruiter/business contact will have both cross their desks and realize the lie.

    For example, last year my husband was looking for an IT job for about 8 weeks. This is within 60 miles of the Boston area, casting a wide net. In one case he applied directly to a job only to find out a recruiter wanted his resume to send to the same job. Or, a business contact said “hey I forwarded your resume to X company for an IT job” and my husband had already seen that posting and sent his own resume.

    It really is a small world. Really. Small.

    Good luck!!

  26. kirsten*

    I understand being nervous about how being out of work for a year looks on a resume but you can still find a new job. My husband was unemployed for almost a year in 2009-2010 and was still able to find something. If you’re getting antsy about having a huge gap in employment history, I would suggest taking something you wouldn’t normally take like a job at the mall, temping or something similar to close the gap. I often interview people and while I would ask about the gap on an interview I would not hold it against the person.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      The thing is – even “temping” and “part-time” are really hard to come by. Especially if you are “overqualified”.

  27. some1*

    Besides what everyone else has mentioned about how you might get caught, don’t you think if you put this fake company on your resume, interviewers are going to want to know why you want to leave after only 9 months?

    And getting away with this on your resume is only one potential step – some employers require an employment verification going back several years. When I went through mine to get hired at my current company, I had to produce a W2 and paycheck stub to prove my employment.

    1. Anlyn*

      That was my question—do they fake W2s for you? What about tax information, do they fake that? I can’t imagine they would go to those lengths, no matter how “nice and caring” they were.

      1. INFJ*

        Yup. I’m guessing they don’t fake W2s because then that would be illegal and not just unethical. If a potential employer asks for W2s for employment verification, anyone using this service is SOL.

  28. Susan*

    I saw a documentary recently on lying (it was a very compassionate take by sociologists on why people tell lies), and this one woman was in the admissions office of MIT for 20+ years and really respected/had many promotions/was even on TV representing MIT. Anyway, when she applied for the job originally, she said she went to a tech college instead of a women’s liberal arts college (because she thought that wouldn’t be so respected at just a prestigious technical institution), and they found out 20 years later and she was fired and basically barred from the profession, even with two decades of evidence that she’s exemplary at the job. So that doesn’t seem worth it.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Yeah, see, I feel like the only reason none of this guy’s customers have been caught is because he hasn’t been in business that long.

    2. whatwhat*

      I remember that story. She was getting a divorce and her soon-to-be-ex-husband was the one that blew the whistle. Ouch.

      1. NickelandDime*

        That’s cold. But also another thing to remember about doing stuff like this, or even having a “friend” help you lie to get a job. Don’t ever fall out with that “friend.”

    3. Greg*

      Yeah, I remember that story. You always hear about people who get busted for lies on their resume from decades ago, which kind of makes sense. Once you lie on your resume the first time, you’re kind of trapped, since removing that false data later could arouse suspicions. So you have to leave it on and hope no one ever discovers it. Horrible situation to put yourself in.

    4. Honeybee*

      I remember that story. What struck me is that she had been excellent at the job and everyone acknowledged that, but they still had to let her go for her dishonesty – especially since everyone knew about it now.

      1. Greg*

        Yes, though I would argue her dishonesty fatally compromised her ability to do her job. She was the head of admissions, in charge of vetting the credentials of applicants. How could MIT allow her to continue sitting in judgment of others? What happens when the school rejects an applicant for false information in their transcript, and the student turns around and says, “What’s so bad about what I did? She did the same thing and you let her keep her job!”

    5. FiveByFive*

      That reminds me of the Tina Fey movie where she gets fired as Admissions Officer at Princeton for falsifying documents to get a kid into the school. (And it was Wallace Shawn who fired her!)

      Not relevant, just kinda liked that movie :)

    6. Ted Mosby*

      I wrote about this above! She was a friend of my moms and truly is such a lovely person. It was a huge mistake she made young, and it haunted her after that. She had the same thinking as you, OP. It’s just one little lie, it’s kind of close to the truth… It was truly just a young, dumb mistake. She basically knew she would get caught and loose her job one day; confessing just would have sped up the process.

      Also, the top was from an anonymous source, and there was no real evidence it was Steven (although it could have been…)

    7. Observation*

      Then again, according to INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION, she has a lucrative admissions consulting practice. The head of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling said of her, “I think she’s proven through having risen through the ranks in the admissions office that she’s a professional, and has learned if not by degree, then by experience,” Smith said. “I don’t feel that she’ll be met with any ill will in the community, because people know her.” She also claims to have been offered dean of admissions posts at other institutions.

  29. Kvaren*

    “Don’t do that.”

    Exactly. I feel like I’m reading something that should be on “Ask A Mom.”

    While you’re at it, put your laundry away and set the table for even asking that question, young man.

  30. spek*

    I’m going to go against the majority here. I can only imagine what it’s like to be unemployed for a year, with bills to pay and mouths to feed. At his point, your integrity is probably a scondary concern to putting food on the table. Proud and homeless? Not great. This idea sounds shady, and maybe not worth the risk, but I can imagine you are desperate. Do what is best for you. You won’t be the first person to lie on a resume, and it’s not like most comapnies are shining examples of morality. Think on it, ask your family, and do what you need to do. Weigh your options, make a responsible, informed decision, and be prepared to live with the consequences.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Integrity aside, I think people have also laid out a lot of good practical reasons not to do this, though (i.e., there are many ways this can backfire and you can be found out).

    2. Ad Astra*

      I don’t think spending money on a service like this is a good way to put food on the table, especially if the costs are similar to what’s mentioned in the Forbes article upthread. OP would be better off putting that money toward actual food… or maybe a membership to a professional organization, a course to build relevant skills, a website to display past work, some new interview clothes, etc.

    3. Observer*

      For starters “most companies are (not) shining examples of morality” is a pretty poor reason to do just about anything.
      Beyond that, the consequences are pretty grim, even if you never get caught. For one thing, you need to keep this charade going for a while, and there are ongoing costs. So not only are you laying out money on a real gamble, you’ve also essentially committed to keep spending that money for a few years. For another, because there is a very real chance the the LW will get busted, either directly or via a compromise of the service, it means living with a constant worry. At least with a toxic job (not that I wish that on anyone either), you can start looking for another job. Here, you are stuck and there is no real way to get away from that.

    4. fposte*

      I get the desperation; I just think this is more broadly a bad economic decision. You’re betting money on the not-huge chance that this will make you a more appealing candidate and betting money against the not-small chance that you’ll get found out.

      I bet people who do this would get a much better return from something like Alison’s resume service.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree. I understand what Alison and other commenters are saying about integrity, but I also understand how integrity could take a backseat to paying the bills, particularly if it’s lying on your resume rather than working in a shady job that actively hurts people. For me, the issue is less about integrity and more about the risk/reward just not being worth it.

        1. Zillah*

          And just so I’m being super clear, I’m in no way advocating that people lie on their resumes and I think that integrity is extremely important – I just also understand that many people are understandably more focused on paying their bills than a fairly non-malicious lapse of integrity.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s similar to physical health problems. If I’m unwell, and things that are supposed to help aren’t helping, sure, maybe I’ll try fringy stuff even though it doesn’t meet my standards, because the drive not to feel like crap is stronger than my insistence on evidence-based treatments.

    5. Kat M2*

      It’s not about being proud, it’s about the much worse impacts of getting caught.

      And others being just as bad is an excuse that never worked-cue your mom saying, “If everyone jumped off a bridge….”

      You might as well spend your much needed money on a lottery ticket. At least, it’s probably cheaper, just as much of a long shot, and doesn’t involve the sacrifice of your honesty.

    6. Three Thousand*

      If you must lie, which is a bad enough idea, do it on your own. Don’t bring these people into it. They’re not people you want to work with. The risks are far out of proportion to the potential reward.

    7. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I’m with you; the problem I have with this is a practical one rather than a moral one. It’s a far greater injustice that there are many good people in awful situations than that people sometimes lie on their resumes, and in a better world the people responsible for those awful situations would have to answer for them.

  31. Volunteer Advocate*

    Volunteer. In situations where you really don’t want a gap showing your unemployment, volunteering somewhere fills that gap. And I know for a fact that volunteer experience is just as good as paid experience in many cases.

    1. JoJo*

      Maybe the OP can’t afford to volunteer. Volunteering is still work, which requires transportation costs, a suitable wardrobe, lunches, and pitching in for gifts. To expect someone who hasn’t had a steady income for a year to do that is a bit much.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’ve volunteered from home before. My husband has a current gig that has him within walking distance of our house. Not all volunteer positions are as formal as paid work.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I volunteer both time and work, and I don’t have to wear anything other than what I would normally for my leisure time. In fact, it would be weird if I dressed up for my Saturday morning volunteer gig – which I walk to. And when I knit for charity, nobody cares what I look like, just that the finished product is well made and will be useful for the recipient.

      2. LawBee*

        well, it was a suggestion, not a demand. And there are on-line volunteer opportunities. The OP has access to the internet, either at home or a local library or wherever.

        The underlying suggestion is just to find something that occupies the OP’s time while job hunting, that she can talk about in an interview. “I spent three months on my couch mainlining Eureka and knitting” – it was a lovely three months, but it got me nowhere. :D

      3. Sunshine Brite*

        If you can afford to pay $50/month to have someone lie to you, you can get a tank of gas or put money on a bus card or even pay for internet. You can pack a lunch that you would presumably eat regardless, volunteer opportunities are often casual dress which most people have and non-monetary.

  32. Vin Packer*

    The advice (don’t do it, I get it but dooooon’t do it) is good, and mostly compassionately delivered, and I’m glad to see several commenters that seem to get the terrifying, desperate place this letter writer is coming from.

    I am skeptical, though, of the idea that a person who lies on their resume gets a job “at the expense of other candidates who applied honestly.” People get/don’t get jobs for all sorts of reasons, and only some of them have to do with merit. That’s just the way it is–no system is perfect, and that most definitely includes hiring practices, even good hiring practices.

    The letter writer shouldn’t sell their soul for a job, no. But if they did, in this fairly benign way (meaning, they aren’t pretending they’re a trained brain surgeon or airline pilot–they’re just trying to act like the gap on their resume for the basic work they actually do isn’t as big as it is), I don’t think it’s fair to blame them for victimizing other job seekers who have been lucky enough to remain more steadily employed, considering that the hiring system is most keen to give jobs to people who least need them (have “options,” as it’s sometimes put here).

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      >the hiring system is most keen to give jobs to people who least need them (have “options” as it’s sometimes put here)

      Exactly. The system is unfair to begin with; of course people are going to cheat at a game that’s already rigged.

  33. whatwhat*

    “I have contacted them and they are legit.” THEY ARE NOT LEGIT. And your judgment is impaired by your desperation, or you wouldn’t think for a minute that they are legit.

    And down the road, what if you are applying for a job (when this fictional job is no longer “to present”) and the hiring manager wants to speak with your supervisor from this fake job? What if you are asked to provide a pay stub?

    1. JoJo*

      How likely is that going to happen? I’ve been in the workforce for nearly 40 years and have never been asked for a paystub from a former job. I can’t imagine any circumstances outside of Top Clearance jobs where it would even be an issue.

      1. some1*

        I’m an admin for a financial services company. I had to provide a paystub to prove current employment when I was hired here, because the employment verification company did want to contact them and tip them off that I was job searching.

      2. lfi*

        i had to produce some for my new job – moving to a larger company that handles financial info required it.

      3. Kate in MD*

        I had to, I think to help HR garner me a better financial offer: I got a signing bonus whereas my colleague at the same level didn’t. But then again I was a government employee and it would have taken them 15 minutes of research to figure out what I was making.

        OP, for ideas of volunteering opportunities, when I was unemployed for 9 months after graduation I volunteered for an online crowd source effort (Project Guttenberg), and now having volunteered at a few 5Ks or Triathalons, I recommend those for one time events. The runners/competitors were generally rather appreciative of the volunteers, it can be nice to hear words like that again.

      1. dawbs*

        Or, like other people said, venture slightly further afield and blackmail.

        Can you imagine the Ashley Madison money scam they could pull?

        “Next Thursday, any and all scam companies created by will be released, along with the email addresses of ’employees’ attached to the accounts.
        If you would like to ensure that ‘your’ company is deleted, please pay a non-refundable $2000 deletion fee”

  34. GlamNonprofitSquirrel*

    There are so many more options out there than this, OP. Truly! Others have posted great suggestions like temping or freelancing and I’m sure you’ve already gone through all of the options available to you in your area like working at a restaurant, mowing lawns and child care (which is not to say that those jobs aren’t important and valuable). You can also volunteer, intern or sign up for the AmeriCorps program. (Honestly, I’d give my left arm for an AmeriCorps member with a little life experience and a strong desire to work in our community.)

    By reaching out here, I think you know that this idea (while tempting) is the wrong direction. Seriously, take advantage of the generosity of this group and the richness of the site archives for help with your resume, your interview skills and so on. Take free online classes (Coursera has a bunch), volunteer at your local library (and get access to free internet). Good luck!

    1. simonthegrey*

      Going along with this, OP, can you make and sell things online? Do you have a skill with photography or photo-editing? Creating a small business may not be profitable but can look good on a resume. My side business doesn’t pay wages (it pays for itself and that’s all) but it looks good and shows a bunch of skills that would never come across in my patchwork of more academic jobs. Plus, “started my own business selling my photography” or “creating unique tea blends’ or whatever will look really good on a resume.

      1. Zillah*

        Out of curiosity, how would you suggest people go about doing this? I feel like it’s an excellent suggestion, but it’s often difficult for people to know where to start.

  35. Greg*

    Allison’s response couldn’t help but remind me of the time in my early 20s when I went to Amsterdam with a buddy. He suggested, in a “When in Rome …” kind of spirit, that we go to the red-light district and, er, purchase the services of one of the professionals there.

    Now, there were many perfectly logical reasons why this was a bad idea, but what I said to him was, “I don’t want to do that, because then that makes me a guy who goes to hookers, and I can never undo that.” (Incidentally, that’s also the answer I would give today as the No. 1 reason I’d never cheat on my wife.)

    None of us is perfect. We’ve all made mistakes, done things we later regret, etc. But there are certain lines you cross that change something fundamental about your own self-identity. Committing massive fraud is one of those lines.

    So yes, don’t do it because you might get caught, because these guys might rip you off, and all the other logical reasons people have been mentioning throughout the comments. But mostly, don’t do it because you’ll never forgive yourself.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I fully agree that the OP shouldn’t do it, and I’m glad that you decided you didn’t want to visit sex workers when in Amsterdam, but I don’t know that I agree once you go down a certain road you can’t come back. Perhaps I’m naive or idealistic, but I really do believe in redemption and second chances. Even though I think what the OP is thinking about doing is despicable and unethical, I won’t say that makes a permanent character mark on her/him forever.

      1. Observer*

        Well, yes, you can “come back”. But it’s not jut a matter of “undoing” what you did. It means changing who you are. And that’s not an easy thing.

  36. Jake*


    I’m currently employed, and I have been for several years, so I won’t pretend to fully understand the depth of desperation at play here (although I do understand why you feel this way). At my first job out of school I was a stalwart of integrity. My boss always mentioned it as my very first strength at every review (as he had very similar views on honesty and integrity). I was the one the client would come to when they wanted the real truth because they knew that I wouldn’t lie or sugarcoat anything to them, and I was the one routinely calling out issues they needed to be aware of, yet could have very easily been concealed.

    Fast forward 2 years after I left that job. I now wouldn’t list integrity on my list of strengths at all. Just today I blatantly lied. Blatantly. There was (and will be) no harm done, but if you told me 2 years ago I’d do this, I’d have laughed in your face. Seriously.

    Don’t let pressure change you. It’s not worth looking at yourself and wondering who you are any more. You’re better than that, if you weren’t you wouldn’t have come here to ask.

      1. Jake*

        To do what I need to do for the company, manager, and client I now work for, the options are:

        1. Tell white lies on a consistent basis to the client and move the projects forward
        2. Tell the truth and get run through the ringer for something that is extremely minimal and make myself miserable
        3. Quit.

        I used to think I’d choose 3 over 1. Turns out I’m wrong.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It’s off topic but having to lie for your job really changes you. And what’s worse is that, at many companies you are made out to be the bad employee if you won’t.

  37. L*

    Nope, nope, nope. Not unless you want to be unemployed for a LONG time after. Keep looking, but fill your gap with something meaningful. Volunteer, develop a professional oriented blog, take classes on Coursera.

    The thing I wonder is if someone did this and they were on unemployment, couldn’t that jeopardize their benefits?

  38. Anon Accountant*

    The truth has a way of coming out. I understand the desperation but please don’t do it. There’s a lot of good other suggestions on here to help close a gap.

  39. fposte*

    Another problem I see with this service: if it becomes commonly known, the average time of the hiring process is going to get longer, because hiring managers are going to start verifying employment more regularly on candidates.

  40. GrittyKitty*

    OP – I would love to gift you a copy of Alison’s “How To Get A Job” book. I just bought one myself, as I may be out of work soon. It has given me perspective that I did not have. I realize you have been diligently job hunting, but a fresh look at strategies cannot hurt. If Alison can handle the details, I can PayPal it to AAM today.

    Don’t discount volunteer experience. Many nonprofits need marketing, IT, finance & organizational help in general. Many are too busy doing the boots-on-the-ground work (in my experience with animal rescues) to even try to look for people. Find a cause you believe in and offer your expertise.

    Get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other. It will not always be this way.

  41. Blurgle*

    Why has no one considered the possibility that this company’s main source of income is actually blackmail?

  42. M*

    Most have already said what I would but since my comment earlier this week was met with so many responses & Allison asked for clarification I’m adding my $.02.

    For the record there is a huge difference between extending time on a job you actually had to cover a gap and creating an entire false job. As others have already mentioned this is problematic on so many levels and in THIS case would warrant all the harsh comments the other post received earlier this week.

    To the OP: It’s hard and scary but a year gap can be overcome. Practice highlighting your skills and ignoring the obnoxious questions. If you have money to pay for this it would be better spent on a course that would “add value” to your candidacy for the types of jobs you are looking for. The risk for doing this far outweighs any benefit. Do not allow someone to feed on your desperation with an action that could have long term ramifications. Discovery of this could lead to immediate firing at any future job. Please take a deep breath, reassess your game plan and be confident that the right position is out there for you. Some days you have to fake it so you aren’t tempted but choices such as this. (My gap is much longer than a year so trust me when I say I understand).

    Good luck.

  43. A Bug!*

    I can understand the reasoning that concludes that this company’s services are “legit,” if you believe that you’re being denied employment opportunities unfairly and also believe that your gap in employment isn’t relevant to your candidacy at all. A small wrong to prevent a larger one.

    But when you start letting the ends justify the means, where does the line get drawn? Who gets to decide that they’re being unjustly denied employment opportunities and on what basis? Priscilla, who was involuntarily terminated from six jobs in two years and is convinced that each and every one of her previous managers was out to get her and jealous of her competence? Or Bart, who quit his last job because he didn’t get his vacation request approved, and had incorrectly figured he’d have no problem finding a new one when he got back?

  44. Three Thousand*

    In general, doing business with professional liars and con artists, especially if you aren’t one yourself, is a bad idea. These are not nice people and there really is no honor among thieves. Their actions might be more than you know how to deal with if things go south. Payday lenders are a good comparison, but at least payday lenders are only offering to con you and not to involve you in a conspiracy to con someone else. Being a victim is bad, but being a wrongdoer is in many ways far worse.

  45. legalchef*

    Something else to think about that I don’t think was mentioned above is that what if you do this, and potential employer finds out and doesn’t hire you, and then you find a job in the same area and interacts with that potential employer (even if it is just by being in the same field and seeing each other at trainings, conferences, etc). Even if you didn’t use this sham company to get that job, if potential employer knows people at current employer, they might talk, and *poof* – there goes any credibility you have.

    (First time poster. Hi!)

  46. Jessica (tc)*

    Soooo…weird thought, tangentially related: how do the people who work at this company list their employment achievements or duties on their own resume? If they wanted to leave the job of lying about other people having jobs, do they say that they were an employment company helping people find jobs? I just…I don’t know how that would work.

    1. De Minimis*

      They would probably say they helped people with their resumes, which I guess is technically true.

  47. De Minimis*

    I can see the temptation to do this–I was unemployed nearly three years at one point and I know a lot of employers were just throwing my resume out, but I also know this could cause major consequences further down the road.
    You’d be in trouble applying for most government jobs, jobs in academia, and many private employers that have a significant background check. Most of these employers go back at least 7-8 years if not more, so this is something you’d have to worry about for years even after getting a legitimate job.

  48. Former HR Student*

    I think the interesting assumption being made here is that the OP will get a job eventually, if they just hold on. Why do people think this, I wonder?

    An interesting counterpoint, here’s a guy who was involuntarily unemployed for decades —

    The only reason we have a report of this is because he is from a country with much more forgiving unemployment payments than the U.S. In the U.S., after the unemployment payments run out, people just sort of fade away — evicted? “Retired?” Homeless? Employed in a different field? Some sort of sketchy disability claim? Nobody knows. :-) Without their voices, it becomes easy to assume that it all turned out for the best, like when you tell a kid that their pet goldfish has “gone back to the ocean”, rather than that it was currently caught in some sort of grate at the sewage treatment plant after you flushed it down the toilet.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Unfortunately “most” isn’t “all”…and when you’re unemployed for a long time it certainly feels like you’re going to be one of the unlucky ones.

        We, as a society, need a way to deal with people just falling through the cracks. This sure isn’t it, but we need a way.

    1. Observer*

      On the one hand, most people do find something. And on the other, doing something like this provides zero guarantee of either safety (“we’ve never been caught” is hardly convincing in this context) or success.

  49. Alice*

    Just wanted to offer my experience here. I used one of these companies. I’m not proud, but I was desperate. I landed a very nice job with a great salary and that I loved very much. Unfortunately, I had to leave after 2 years because I knew my lies would eventually catch up to me and I wanted to move on before that point (so I would have a legitimate reference).

    Finding another job wasn’t hard because I had a great reference and I just let the faked work experience drop off my resume. I don’t like the new job as much and I still am kind’ve sad about the company I left behind. However, I wouldn’t say I regret it because it’s why I am where I am today.

  50. John*

    I can’t really see how so many people in the comment section are against this unless they are recruiters or managers. I’ve graduated in 2013 and still can’t find a job in my field. Went for my masters and graduated last year but still can’t get anything going. All these companies want is experience, experience, experience. How the heck am I supposed to get that if you won’t freaking hire me! Do you think I spent 6 years in school obtaining 2 degrees to not take my job seriously. They feed you this crap since pre-school telling you to go to college so you’ll have a nice job, won’t live paycheck to paycheck, earn more over you’re lifetime and then get mad and call this generation ungrateful when we wonder why we aren’t being hired. Unlike some people I had to work my way through college and didn’t have time for an internship. I’m at the last resort and am in the process of creating fake job experience right now so I can at least start to get some freaking interviews. That’s actually how I came across this post. I think I might go check this website out now for myself.

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