“Can I prevent prospective employers using my resume to get business without hiring me?”

Question: I recently found an article on your site entitled “How can I stop my resume from being used for unauthorized purpose?” (To read, just [click here.]) I understand your points and your reasoning, but I don’t think it applies to my field. 

I work in defense contracting in the IT field. There are about a dozen major corporations that all typically compete for the same defense contracts. I have heard that they sometimes use your resume to compete for contracts, but don’t necessarily hire you for the position they win. When you apply on their websites you don’t have an option to send a scanned-in PDF. I don’t like the idea of my hard-earned education and experience benefitting a major corporation without myself getting a piece of the pie. I do, however, need a job and therefore put my resume out there to be reviewed. 

Can these companies do this? Can they offer a job, get the contract, and then take back the offer? Any disclaimer I can put on my resume that will prevent this? Thank you. 

Okinawa, Japan

Answer: Dear Richard: I’m sorry, but there really is not much you can do to prevent such abuse, especially without ruining any chance of getting a job. Here are some thoughts that might just help:         

1. Use of a resume of a non-employee to get a contract is nothing less than fraud. Use of a resume to suggest or say that a certain person is an employee, when they are not, is nothing less than fraud. It is “a false statement of fact transmitted to another person knowing that they will rely on it to their detriment.” That is the standard definition of fraud. In some situations, it could be serious enough to be criminal in nature. You are entirely right to resent a company’s use of your resume and education for such an improper purpose.      

2. You might try putting a “Not for Unauthorized Distribution” banner-type label on your resume. The first thought that comes to mind is that you might use a banner-type label on your resume indicating that it is not to be distributed without prior authorization. It seems, though, that the impossibility of submitting your resume by scanned-in PDF renders any such idea near useless. Still, the thought of that on a resume might just give pause to an employer who is considering submitting your resume without your authorization, and without hiring you.

 3. If you have a specific defense contractor in mind, you might consider filing an anonymous complaint with the U.S. Department of Defense, the largest user of defense contractors by a long shot. If you believe that your resume, or the resumes of your colleagues, might be misused by a specific defense contractor in the way you suggest, you can file a Fraud Complaint with the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General anonymously. Information on how you can do so is available on its website, www.DODIG.mil. You can email a report of such fraud to hotline@dodig.mil, or do so by calling 1-800-424-9098. 

The most important lesson my mother taught me was “If you want responsibility, make sure people feel accountability.” It’s true – nothing works better. 

4. Want to clean up the whole industry: If so, here’s an interesting idea. Consider emailing the following message to the hiring websites of each of the dozen largest defense contractors:

“Your use of resumes from people who you don’t employ when submitting Bids for Defense Contractor Jobs is a serious fraud, and has been reported to the U.S. DOD Inspector General – BEWARE.” There’s no doubt in my mind that this would likely give pause to anyone at any of these companies that doing what you describe is really risky business. Of course, you should use a non-traceable email address. You might just “CC” the CEO of each company while you’re at it. Something tells me that an email like this each month for a few months might just clean up the entire industry in this respect.     

Richard, I hope this has been helpful, and that you will end the exploitation you describe, and give you a sense that you have something very powerful on your side: fear of true accountability by those who practice dishonesty. Just be careful in what you do and how you do it.     

Best to you,
Al Sklover

P.S: Our Model Letters help people stand up for themselves at work. For a friend facing Job Loss, Severance, Resignation, Bully Boss, or Performance Improvement Plan, they are a “Helping Hand Gift for a Friend in Need.” Just [click here] to view our list.


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© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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