We don’t know everything, but it is truly mind-blowing. I asked our friends for their opinions on so many moving pieces of this story.
My friend and litigious society was the first person I contacted. She is an employment lawyer and a regular contributor to the HR Examiner.
It is not illegal to copy text from another person’s resume. Although there may be a copyright claim, it is difficult to prove that the copied information was protected by copyright. Facts are not generally copyrightable. Although the wording might be correct, there are exceptions. (I won’t bore readers with a treatise about copyright law). It’s difficult to imagine the damage at this point.
The problem is when they both apply to the same employer. The employer may have noticed identical language and wondered who had copied it. It is possible to resolve this issue by having the niece of the reader rewrite her resume. Although this is unfair, and she shouldn’t have to do it, it’s much easier and cheaper than forcing the copier to correct his resume.
Copying someone else’s resume and making it your own is not ethical. It is, at best, a lack of imagination. It demonstrates laziness and a tendency to take credit for other people’s work. Going to the court system is not worth the effort, time or expense.
It is aggravating to discover someone copied your resume and took credit for something you didn’t do. Before she takes any action, here are some things I recommend.
Is it really important? LinkedIn is more important today than a resume. Additionally, since her LinkedIn profile is public, she can provide more evidence to back up her plagiarism claim by updating the copy.
Confronting someone who plagiarized her resume has the upside that she can have the satisfaction of calling out his plagiarizing and lying. He could become angry and seek revenge. Even if he confronts her, it’s unlikely that he will fix his resume. He’d likely do it again if he didn’t have any problems doing it the first time.
I suggest that she keep moving forward and focus on what she has control of. This means that she needs to update her resume (which will probably need updating) and personalize her LinkedIn profile.
Clients have told me about the resumes of others before. I’ve even had people share their resumes with me. There is a lot more spying out there; it’s sad to say. The reader could have discovered the information by any means. He could have posted his resume online or used LinkedIn.
Resumes should not be considered personal documents. But, I have been hired by friends and couples who used the same resume writer before. The resume writer copied and pasted lines from one to the other. Two women with identical job titles worked in the same company and hired me to update their resumes. I could see that the resumes were copied from the original writer, and the same duties were copied verbatim. The top half of each resume was identical (SMH).
There should not be two identical resumes. I completed outplacement services deals with 10 employees. Some were in the same department, some had the same titles, and others worked in similar departments. After talking to each other, I discovered that even though they did the same work, they approached it differently. None of these resumes were identical.
This is my suggestion to the victim in this situation: You can say the same thing 10,000 times so that I would rephrase and possibly add some specific details, but different from the plagiarized one.
The candidate who was the victim of this theft should be able to explain in detail how she achieved those feats, including specific details about her past, how she came up with the solutions and other pertinent information.
Let me tell you, when I look at a resume and find something is wrong, and I always ask questions. A person who copies another resume isn’t usually clever enough to create a plausible story around it. An example of this was given to me by a former recruit manager I worked for.
Let’s suppose I like craft beer and have a conversation with someone who claims to know more about it. They should be able to explain the differences between top and bottom fermentation beers. They should also be able to speak with me about IBUs (International Bitterness Units), the Bavarian beer purity laws from several centuries ago and the various types of hops that affect the flavor. Faking this knowledge is impossible if you don’t have the right knowledge.