Identity Theft of an Identity Manager

A few years back I found myself in a strange situation. I was still an independent consultant in the IDM space. Therefore, my resume was very accessible at the top of the searches in Yahoo and Google. As part of my job, I’d often get requests from clients to review resumes of prospective employees and consultants in the IDM space. Amazingly, twice in a single month, I had been given my own resume to review with someone else’s name at the top. In both cases the job duties and descriptions, even the project names, matched exactly my work from about 4 years prior when my niche work began to it’s present day. Also, the plagiarized sections were typed in a different font than the rest of the resume, which leads me to the conclusion that the thieves (if we can call them that) simply cut and pasted their resumes from mine and, most likely, from other unknown sources.

When I received the first resume from a client in Maryland, I immediately contacted my customer, explained the situation, and asked them how they wanted me to handle this dilemma. My client asked me to proceed almost as planned. They wisely wanted me to speak to the candidate with the intention of getting the truth or some sort of admission of plagiarism from the “author” of the resume at hand.

Nervously, I contacted the candidate, we will call him Walt. My questioning focused specifically on the work experience that Walt and I seemed to share. He was unable to speak intelligently about any of the work that he had allegedly done. So, finally, I blatantly asked him if he wrote the resume. When confronted, he eventually said that he “might” have taken a bit “from here or there.” I then led him to my posted resume on the Web which included the phone number I was calling him from. What followed was stunned silence. Walt then apologized profusely and swore “on the life of his child” that he would delete the portions of his resume in question.

In the end Walt was denied a position and Walt’s representatives, the staffing company, were forbidden from submitting additional candidates to the customer as they were expected to properly vet candidates.

Two weeks later, I received the second resume from a different client in Minnesota. The second case I intended to handle in the same manner as I had the first. The only real difference between the candidates, we will call him Ravi, was that this one happened to be from overseas. When I talked to this candidate, he and I realized that, although it was his resume I was given, it was not the one he had authored. As it turns out, the overseas technology company representing him did a common practice of swiping someone else’s credentials to try and sell their consultant. I felt bad for this guy because he was unaware of what had happened and because it cost him potential employment.

A fellow IDM peer, Adam, has had a similar tale to tell. An IDM themed IT company has been using his resume as a method to show customers and even potential hires the type of seasoned staff they employ. One issue, the resume is Adam’s and Adam does not work for said company. In fact he had an acrimonious parting with said company over the company’s shady tactics to begin with.
What I find amusing is that for those who work in the Identity Management space we all know there are some constants. Those constants are as follows:

  1. The owners of the products may have changed from the Business Layers, Access360s, Thors, Wavesets, Oblix, etc. to Oracle, IBM, CA, etc. but the players have not. IAM is still a small world and as such you WILL see your peers out in the market.
  2. The recruiters for the most part are unknowledgeable and in some cases will beg, borrow and steal to make the sale. Don’t believe me? How many of you have been called by a recruiter asking you to be their “Identity Manager” and then spent the time explaining that Identity Manager is an application not a role?
  3. Small IT companies will bill themselves as the expert in a given field with 3 people actually working for the company and all “staff” as contingent contractors. Re-read Adam’s plight above for the example.

Now comes the best part. In my list of constants I skipped over the example or proof of the first one, you WILL see your peers out in the market. Case in point, our friend Walt, you remember him don’t you? IDMWorks scored a nice project with a respectable company in the health arena. Your hero was working on the project for about 2 weeks when he bumps into Walt doing IDM work at said client. For reference I’d like to point out that 3 years had past since the damning of Walt’s kids in the name of amending the prior situation. Walt didn’t recognize me but you can be sure I recognized him. I immediately went to the manager of the department and let him know my story. Coincidentally the manager had a copy of Walt’s resume. Unfortunately for Walt’s children he was still using mine. Some people never learn. I made sure to take Walt out to coffee before any action by the customer was taken. I reminded Walt of who I was and how in the field of Identity Management it would seem paramount not to resort to Identity Theft. I asked Walt if he was still using my resume. He answered, “No”. I let him in on my little secret that I had actually seen his presented resume to the customer. Never-the-less we left it with a heartfelt apology and yet another promise that Walt would change the resume to his own. As karma was realigning itself Walt was let go, never to be re-hired at the customer ever again.

So in the end there isn’t much you can do about people plagiarizing your resume, except to hope that companies do their due diligence and fact-check their candidates or to hide your identity from the world at large. Hopefully it won’t compromise future opportunities when your resume comes into question because someone else has seen it before.

PS:  Speaking of Resume Stealing Scumbags:  http://www.peningo.com/index.html

These guys have a list of  “sample resumes” on their site.  Coincidentally, I found mine.  Never heard of them before.  Be careful.