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November 14, 2006 2:20 PM   Subscribe

how skeezy it is for a company to make up a person for people applying for jobs?

People applying at my company are being given the name of a fake person to apply to. I find this weird enough for just resumes, but people drop off portfolios and leave behind pieces for the fake person's attention (after phoning in and being given this name). I find this a little weird. I know there are lots of job seekers, but if I got hired on and found out about the deception, I'd be a little pissed. Am I wrong to think this isn't such a great idea?
posted by Stynxno to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly after seeing all the crap an HR type can get (especially at a desirable company) I'd recommend this practice.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:30 PM on November 14, 2006

Are they doing this to track how the applicant heard about the job? I know it's a ploy often used in marketing - if the person calls and asks for "Wendy" you know they heard about the company from the banner ad on such and such Web site. But if your company is doing it for some other reason, yeah, it's a little strange.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 2:31 PM on November 14, 2006

It's a way to sort the job applications from regular correspondance directed to the HR person. Some postings will generate thousands of pieces of mail, and on occasion, the only way to deal with it is to dump it all unread.

If this level of deception is enough to get you pissed off, you're probably not going to enjoy life in the corporate world. Save that indignation for when they make your pension vanish, or lay people off three weeks before they could have retired with full benefits.
posted by FYKshun at 2:42 PM on November 14, 2006

I find it an interesting an inoffensive approach to a management problem. In fact, it shows an appreciation for unusual solutions, which I kinda like.
posted by krisjohn at 2:53 PM on November 14, 2006

It seems like there are two alternatives:

1. Tell people to send their resumes/portfolios to "Human Resources" or "To Whom It May Concern." Applicants may think their materials will never be reviewed if submitted in this fashion, so they pass up the opportunity or give it a half-assed attempt.
2. Give out the name of a real person. That person is inundated with calls from eager applicants and has trouble sorting through mailed materials.

Assuming the materials sent in are actually given a good-faith review, it seems like giving out a fake name avoids the problems of alternatives 1 & 2 without being ethical problematic. If all these resumes are tossed in a file never to be seriously reviewed, then it's a shitty thing to do.
posted by mullacc at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2006

I can see the advantages from a privacy perspective. If I were an HR person, I would be somewhat worried about rejected wacko's finding out my home address.
posted by saffry at 3:00 PM on November 14, 2006

Some years ago, the US branch of a Japanese employment agency, Recruit (which was involved in big political scandals in Japan around the same time), wound up being dinged for discriminatory practices. It was mentioned in the coverage that Recruit used the names of non-existent recruiters as code-words meaning "86 this resume" -- a resume would be marked "Send this to Larry" or whatever. I doubt that practice itself had a lot to do with their legal problems, just an interesting wrinkle.

I only mention this because I wound up getting a payout from a class-action lawsuit, so I know about it.
posted by adamrice at 3:20 PM on November 14, 2006

Portfolios? Which means you're in a creative field. Which means you have the rabid wannabe creatives on your tail?

As someone who's had her real name in a junior level creative help wanted ad, I think it's beautiful. You get 10 calls of people telling the secretary they're your sister, your father, your friend, your doctor in response to an ad that said "Please no phone calls" and you'll be making up a fake name too.

When I taught grad school, I heard the other instructors tell the students not to take "no" for an answer. To be persistent. To follow up. To drop off gimmicky self promos. To trick their way in.

I blame every single creative director who gives into this crap for making hiring juniors unbearable, not the company who has a grasp of creative solutions.

As a copywriter, it wouldn't bug me to find out I applied to a fake person. Googlestalking the person you're about to interview with is either intimidating or depressing, depending on the results.
posted by Gucky at 3:24 PM on November 14, 2006

I remember reading an article off the blue about a book publisher that had a similiar tactic. One of the things they talked about was the number of people who called claiming to be good friends of Mr. Smith*, or who said they had dinner with him the other day, things like that. Also, the number of threats Mr. Smith received.

So I think it makes perfect sense, and would not find it at all disagreeable.

*not the name used
posted by KirTakat at 3:53 PM on November 14, 2006

My dad worked for the WA Department of Personnel for many years, and while he was high enough up that he didn't usually have to directly deal with applicants, I know he had to handle appeals and such. On at least one occasion when I was growing up, he told me that if a woman I didn't know who fit a certain description came by our house to call the police.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 4:22 PM on November 14, 2006

Seems like a silly solution at best.

It's a way to sort the job applications from regular correspondance directed to the HR person

Ever heard of "ATTN: Job # 009929" or "ATTN: graphic designer job"?

That would be the normal, non-freakish way to handle such a problem. But yeah, on the scale of dishonest and reprehensible thinsg HR people do, this is an 0.2 at most.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:41 PM on November 14, 2006

I don't see anything freakish about the practice. I think it sounds like an interesting solution. The difference between this and using the "ATTN: Job # 1234" method is it provides an additional level of screening. You can rule-out anyone calling for 'Joe Smith' that claims to know him.

These days, people are touchy about their names. Even at my bank, on the credit card phone lines, people won't give a full name (an example of where an ID number would be very welcome).
posted by Goofyy at 6:15 PM on November 14, 2006

The difference between this and using the "ATTN: Job # 1234" method is it provides an additional level of screening. You can rule-out anyone calling for 'Joe Smith' that claims to know him.

Uh, can't anyone claiming a personal relationship with Job #1234 be ruled out just as easily?

Am I wrong to think this isn't such a great idea?

No because it's a little deception, a lie.

These days, people are touchy about their names.

These days, people employed by corporations are insufficiently touchy about lying, apparently.
posted by scheptech at 6:41 PM on November 14, 2006

So not skeevy at all
not considered lying
get over it

If you spent one minute in the shoes of the person in charge of interviewing or hiring you would recognize that it is a necessary way to deal with overzealous, creepy people you wouldn't hire in the first place.
So it serves a screener/buffer for overly sensitive types who respond to minutae and irrelevant notions on what constitutes skeezy/skeevy (sic).
Good riddance and NEXT!

I wish I used this tactic instead of leaving my real name and email info when I was interviewing staff for my company.

People who never got hired seem to linger for months following up and insinuating themselves in my daily affairs in order to ingratiate their pathethic selves to me in hopes that the golden child I hired instead of them quit or was fired and if I would reconsider putting their app on top of the pile.
ecch. --- now thats creepy and skeevy
posted by stavx at 5:32 AM on November 15, 2006

Just the sheer amount of spam and crap you get from Monster and other job boards is worth a fake person. Monster sold our contact info to anyone who would stand still long enough; when that address was 2 weeks old it was getting 60+ (largely irrelevant) resume broadcasts and offers of stupid crap (also irrelevant - I'm the one hiring, I don't need my resume reformatted) a day.

It's not any different than "direct inquiries to Human Resources" except it stops the crazier applicants from stalking an actual person or pitching fits demanding a real name.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:22 AM on November 15, 2006

I know several companies that follow this practice, mostly due to the fact that in small companies the hiring person is also the CEO, and lets be honest, can't dedicate all their time to everyone who calls repeatedly about the job posting.

If it's any comfort, this practice has resulted in some interesting and amusing lawsuits.
posted by billy_the_punk at 9:28 PM on November 15, 2006

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