Talent Development Centre

All posts by Dan Gasser

The Growing Problem of Fraudulent Credentials (and the impact on honest consultants!)

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

The Growing Problem of Fraudulent Credentials (and the impact on honest consultants!)

Let me start by saying that the vast majority of contractors and applicants are 100% honest and represent themselves, their work and educational achievements fairly and correctly. That said, there is a growing issue in the labour market of people misrepresenting themselves in order to qualify for open postings. This may have been the case for years and it flew under the radar; however, with new vetting techniques and technology it is getting caught more and more often. Also, as more companies are being burned by fraudulent activity, they are both demanding and completing deeper vetting of candidates.

Misrepresentation takes multiple forms, from small embellishments and mis-matched dates covering small gaps in work experience, to much more nefarious activities. Some of the more brazen attempts to mislead potential employers include:

  • Presenting completely falsified resumes: This can be done as an individual doctoring their own resume, or there are “resume banks” available to people who pay to use them. This can include education or work experience falsification, but sometimes the entire resume is completely fabricated.
  • References are often faked: Friends, family or even themselves as the person who answers the phone number of the given reference.
  • Stand-ins for phone interviews (or even Skype interviews!!): Whereby someone with the actual knowledge completes the technical job interview on the fraudster’s behalf. The unwitting company hires and doesn’t realize that there was a change until they show up on the first day of work. If the company is complex enough, the people conducting the interview may not even be the same people who meet the new hire on the first day. Pretty brazen of them to try this!

It is unclear what people are trying to accomplish by faking their way into a job in these ways. It will catch up with them. They aren’t truly qualified to complete the work and they will be terminated, if not for the fraud then for incompetence. However, there are desperate people and if they can fake their way to earning even a few weeks’ pay before being found out then they move on to their next “victim”. It is too time-consuming and costly to press charges… and they get away with it.

What is the industry doing about this? Well, many companies are completing their own vetting even if they use a recruitment agency to source and qualify candidates. IT is a small industry and if someone says that they worked for XYZ Corp., then there is likely someone at the company that knows someone at the other company who can verify whether the candidate actually did what they said they did. Staffing agencies have been doing this for some time now and it is standard practice in the fight against fraudsters. Another check is simply a comparison against old resumes. Most agencies collect resumes from people over the course of many years – older experience in new resumes must match that found in their older resumes, and also in their LinkedIn profiles. References may not be called at the number given by the applicant, but rather they may be contacted via social media or called at their place of work using the company’s main number, making it much more difficult to arrange to have a “fake-someone” complete the interview. Additionally, there is now new technology (AI) being employed to rate the likelihood that an applicant is falsifying their resumes and there are new 3rd Party vetting services that specialize in deeper dives/forensic reviews and vetting. Most recruitment agencies employ one or more of these companies to ensure experience and education listed are accurate. There are also registries being set up that use blockchain technology to verify the accuracy of the data people share. Applicants will have full control over who receives and sees their private information, and the companies this is shared with will be guaranteed of its accuracy.

What is important for consultants to take away from all this is that the industry is now “awake” to resume/applicant fraud and is taking significant steps to uncover issues prior to hiring. 99%+ of people are honest and don’t need to be concerned; however, even honest people can make mistakes. I encourage anyone reading this to go through their resume with a fine-toothed comb to ensure all is completely accurate. It is so easy to mess something up with changes from one version of the resume to another. You absolutely should adapt your resume to best match the role to which you are applying, but adapting isn’t embellishing.  Even though the content might look different, it should still be in sync with what was presented in older resumes. The chance that even small inconsistencies are caught are very much more likely than it ever was before and these little, seemingly insignificant issues, could cost you a job for which you are applying. In this way, attention to detail is more critical than ever.

25 of the Best Picard Tips from the Past Year

Star Trek fans far and wide adore Patrick Stewart’s character, Jean-Luc Picard. They trust his ability as captain and would follow much of his advice. So much so that over 100,000 people follow the novelty Twitter account @PicardTips. It features daily tips that, while often humourous and relate to Star Trek, nearly always provides valuable advice on management, personal development, technology and other topics.

We scrolled through and, as expected, @PicardTips has plenty of one-liners suitable for the IT contractor. Here are our favourite 25 from the past year…

  1. Picard programming tip: A computer is like a mischievous genie. It will give you exactly what you ask for, but not always what you want.
  2. Picard engineering tip: Even if computers can talk now, remember how deeply stupid they are.
  3. Picard management tip: Data is easier to manage than humans.
  4. Picard management tip: Break a complex, urgent problem into subcomponents, one for each of your lieutenants to solve.
  5. Picard devops tip: No, you are not allowed to connect your brain to the computer. Learn to type like everyone else.
  6. Picard diplomacy tip: When communication is breaking down, try to speak the other person’s language.
  7. Picard ethics tip: The fact that a conflict has many sides does not imply that every side has merit.
  8. Picard management tip: Tell your employees when they do well, even if you believe they are empathic and can read your mind.
  9. Picard social tip: A Vulcan can laugh. A Klingon can soothe. A Ferengi can give. Your preconceptions are not facts.
  10. Picard resistance tip: Occasionally there are times when you must draw a line and refuse to budge.
  11. Picard management tip: Everyone’s a critic, but some criticisms are more correct than others.
  12. Picard management tip: In a strange new environment, be wary of making changes until you understand more about what’s going on.
  13. Picard management tip: Put your experts in a conference room, tell them the problem, then shut up and watch the magic happen.
  14. Picard programming tip: When the holodeck malfunctions, stay in character. Don’t piss off the computer.
  15. Picard management tip: Give your crew the best technology available and you’ll be amazed what they can do for your enterprise.
  16. Picard programming tip: The first version of any software will be buggy. That’s why so many holodeck programs try to kill you.
  17. Picard technology tip: An advanced system isn’t always easy to use. Improve the interface, or try pushing buttons at random.
  18. Picard management tip: Adopt the latest technologies right away, even if they’re in beta.
  19. Picard management tip: Don’t negotiate absurd schedules with engineers. Encourage truth telling and reasonable time estimates.
  20. Picard engineering tip: Don’t allow the computer to push you around. Let it know who’s boss.
  21. Picard management tip: Be willing to ask for help, even from people you dislike.
  22. Picard technology tip: Sometimes your chief engineer can build new systems that are better than your existing enterprise software.
  23. Picard programming tip: Don’t be fooled. Machines have feelings.
  24. Picard management tip: If they know their jobs, leave them alone. If they don’t, help them learn.
  25. Picard management tip: Know when to put on a happy face. It’s part of adulthood, and essential for command

10 Crucial Tips for First-Time Managers

It is your first contract that requires you to manage people, and you are both excited and nervous. There are lots of new skills you will need to learn in order to manage your team to achieve primary goals without wasting resources, and undermining on your team’s stability. This may see scary, but with these useful managerial tips you can keep on top of your tasks.

In this infographic, Acuity Training emphasizes 10 tips for first time mangers to follow in the workplace that will ensure optimal team performance. Discover what it takes to be a successful leader, prioritize your goals, and motivate your team.

10 Crucial Tips for First-Time Managers

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

What Independent Contractors Need to Know About Canada's Anti-SPAM Legislation (CASL)Canada’s Anti-SPAM Legislation (better known as CASL and often pronounced “castle”) officially came into force on July 1st, 2014 and is enforced by the CRTC, Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Its primary objective is to protect Canadians from unwanted, harmful electronic messages and computer programs or software. What you may not know is, thanks to this legislation, you may be missing out on job opportunities!

What Exactly is CASL?

In its simplest form, CASL requires that anybody sending a Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) must first obtain consent from their recipients. All CEMs sent must then also include their complete contact information and a functioning opt-out mechanism, where opt-out requests must be honoured within 10 days. These CEMs extend beyond email, and include text messages as well as other electronic communication mediums, like a LinkedIn or Facebook message.

Why Now?

As already mentioned, CASL was introduced in July 2014, but it included a transition period that ended on July 1st 2017. During that transition period, companies could continue emailing contacts with whom they had a relationship before 2014 without requiring further consent. In addition, although the government agencies were enforcing the new law, many believe they were still ‘testing the waters’ and now that the grace period has ended, enforcements will become more rigorous.

These two factors (as well as a now-suspended Private Right of Action that would have allowed individuals to sue spamming companies) are why you may have received a high volume of emails from companies this past Spring, asking you to consent to receiving further emails from them. Most organizations have always taken CASL seriously, but with the grace period ending, they wanted to ensure they were doing their due diligence to guarantee compliance.

How Does CASL Affect Independent Contractors?

Although the basic concept of CASL is clear, there are some “grey areas” of the law that is open to interpretation. Perhaps the most subjective piece as it pertains to job searching is when it comes to receiving job opportunities. Depending how you read it, job opportunities sent by recruiters may be considered CEMs and this naturally makes many staffing agencies cautious.

You may have already learned that some recruitment agencies are lenient in their interpretation, whereas other recruiters will push you aside if they do not have your consent to email you. Sure, they’re allowed to call you (but do you really want your phone ringing off the hook from recruiters, especially when you are working on a client site?), but without your consent, you may not receive any jobs opportunities or related material by email or text message.

The simplest way to ensure you’re getting information about jobs when you’re on the market is to provide express consent to all of the agencies with whom you want to work. By applying to a job, posting your email address to a job board or social network, or contacting a recruiter directly, you are giving implied consent; however, this expires over time. If there is an option somewhere to receive electronic communications, or if a recruiter asks for your permission to continue sending you emails, remember to say yes. You can always opt-out when you’re no longer looking for work.

What If You Want to Opt-Out of Recruiter Emails?

Perhaps you’re no longer looking for work, or maybe there’s an agency who you’ve decided is no longer the right fit for you. All companies are required under CASL to provide an opt-out mechanism in all of their CEMs. Keep in mind, though, just as express consent does not expire until you opt-out, opting-out does not expire until you opt back in. If you opt-out today and are looking for jobs again in 5 years, be sure you update your preferences.

If 10 days after you opt-out you’re still receiving what you believe are CEMs, your next step should be to call your recruiter directly to ask to be removed, and escalate as necessary. You may have not realized that opting-out of one thing (for example a newsletter) did not automatically opt you out of their job opportunities as well. Also, if a company’s opt-out mechanism is malfunctioning for any reason, they will appreciate your tip, given the fines for a CASL infraction can get up to $10 million. If after enough attempts, you still feel you’re being harassed with electronic communications, then you can report it at the Government of Canada’s SPAM Reporting Centre.

A plethora of content and documentation has been created about CASL over the last three years by various organizations, and they all have some different interpretations. If you’re unsure about anything, or would like more information you can visit the official CASL information website at fighspam.gc.ca.

MS Word Tip #7: How to Eliminate Tables in Your Resume

Organizing your resume with tables may help it look better, but can actually create complications when submitting it to an agency.  For example, an applicant tracking system may not be able to read it properly or it may cause extra work for a Proposal Writer trying to submit you to a client.  Regardless of the reason, if you have tables in your resume, you may want to remove them.  It may seem like a daunting task, but this video in the MS Word Resume Tips series provides some quick and easy ways to get rid of those tables.

MS Word Tip #6: Keeping Consistency in Your Resume

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

Independent Contractors work on numerous projects throughout their career. In good practice, most contractors will keep their resume up-to-date, adding new project information as they’re completed.  As time progresses, though, it’s easy for the resume to be filled with inconsistencies in spellings, fonts, or formatting.  In this MS Word Resume Tips video, I go over a few very simple and fast ways that you can bring consistency back to your resume.

MS Word Tip #5: Spicing Up Your Headers and Footers

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

Adding a professional touch to the resume you submit to an agency or client can really separate you from all of the other applicants.  A simple way to do this is by including a light header and footer, possibly including your name, contact information, and page numbers. This fifth video in the MS Word Resume Tips series discusses the basics of using headers and footers, as well as some information about easily adding page numbers.

MS Word Tip #4: Using Breaks in Your Resume

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

Over the last few weeks, I shared some videos in the MS Word Resume Tips series.  Today’s video discusses breaks. Not the kind that involve coffee, but much more exciting breaks, like line breaks, paragraph breaks, page breaks and section breaks! If you’re not excited yet, or more importantly, if you’re not familiar with these breaks, take a look at this video and see if you can use them improve your resume today!

MS Word Tip #3: Setting Tab Spaces in MS Word

Organizing items horizontally can be a great way to clean up a resume and present it in a professional manner, especially in header information.  Using “creative” ways to achieve this can wreak havoc when trying to reformat a resume. In the last video of the MS Word Resume Tips series, I discussed some simple tools found in the paragraph menu.  As promised, this video explores the Tabs option, and explains how you can easily space items horizontally, as well as add leaders between the items.

MS Word Tip #2: Leveraging the Paragraph Menu

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

Take advantage of this Microsoft Word menu to improve your resume

A couple weeks ago, I discussed some of the simplest and most favourite formatting tools in Microsoft Word. These are great tools for any professional, but it’s when you understand the more advanced formatting techniques that you can really impress somebody with your resume. In this second video of the MS Word Resume Tips, I take a look at some tools in the paragraph menu, including setting paragraph spacing, line spacing and indents.  Master these and you’ll easily be able to format a clean looking resume.