“How can I stop my resume from being used for unauthorized purposes?”

Question: Alan, I recently received a telephone call inviting me to apply for a position with a construction management company. I was asked to send a resume to them, so I did so in a “protected” fashion, that is, by a scanned-in version, with my present employer unnamed. I then received a second call requesting that I re-send my resume in an “unprotected” way, that is, word-processed and including the name of my present employer.

Later I was told that, by cutting and pasting, my resume was being used by the construction management company as part of a business proposal they were submitting. I never authorized them to do that, and I’m upset about it.

What are my options? Would you know of an attorney who might help me?

Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin

Answer: John, in my decades of helping employees, it’s only been a few times that I have heard of such a thing happening. What that prospective employer did is not right, but I’m not sure anything they did was actually illegal, either.

Before we consider your options I think it may be wise to stop a moment, and consider why the prospective employer has done what it did. Remember that the key to dealing with someone else is first understanding why they have done something, that is, what motivates their behavior.

It seems to me that the prospective employer may believe that, if they hired you,  they could get a new piece of business, and they don’t want to risk hiring you unless they first get that new piece of business. What does that mean for you? Well, it seems like they might just have – now or later – a job for you. Hey – that can’t be bad. Bear that in mind when considering your options.

First, I suggest you try to remedy the situation by yourself: In a polite letter, send directly to the company’s HR Director (or President, if they don’t have one), ask if they would consider stopping what they seem to be doing, unless they first get your permission, which you might give them if you have a better idea of who they are sending your information to. Tell him or her that you sure do think you could help them, both get new business, or keep new business, if they hired you. However you would appreciate their keeping in mind your concerns, too.

Second, if that is not the way you want to go, or if that does not get you a response you like, then you should sent a second letter, this one also polite but stern, too, demanding that they promptly “cease and desist” the unauthorized dissemination of your resume. Ask, too, for a written response in which the HR Director (or President) assures you that the practice of disseminating your resume without your permission will be halted, immediately. This letter should definitely be sent Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.

Third, you could also consider hiring an attorney. However that should always be your last resort for several reasons, including the cost. That being said, this is the kind of matter that, in my opinion, almost any attorney in your city could send such a letter for you.

If you would like us to assist you in that way by providing capable attorneys in your city, we do offer that service for a minimal fee; simply [click here] if you are interested.

Finally, bear in mind that, if you send out resumes, this could happen to you again. Do not share information you do not want shared with others. Also, you might place in your transmittal letter “Please do not send my resume, or any portion of it, to anyone else without first obtaining my written permission to do so.” That can only help you.

Hope this helps.

Best, Al Sklover

©  2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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