Every time there is a downturn(or a steep upward swing) in the job market, the number of fake resumes increase. Happened in 1998-2000 during the Y2K boom and again in 2004 during the DotCom bust. Inevitable that it will happen again this year.
First reason is obvious - there are more candidates than there are job openings. So more competition and hence more desperation and consequently more faking.
The second reason is less obvious.
Many of the college graduates passing out this year(2009) will not find employment because of the prevalent conditions. Let us follow the life of one such student, say S and see what may happen.
S passes out of college in the top ten percentile of his class. He is also one of the handful of students to have got an offer while in Campus, though the joining date has not been specified yet. He waits for a couple of months hoping for the confirmation letter, but nothing materializes. Enquiries with the company result in standard and vague responses such as "Wait, we will get back to you" or "Call back in 2 weeks". A few more months go by and after losing hope of ever getting into his "dream" company, S starts looking out for other opportunities.
But the market is still down and there are no takers for freshers. His resume drowns in those of thousands of others in the same boat. Tension starts building up at home.
Nearly a year goes by. Market shows signs of recovery. There is renewed hope. Companies start looking for freshers again. The campus recruitment begins for the new batches. The 2010 students pass out. Now the 2009 batch and 2010 batch start competing for the same jobs. As always, companies looking for fresh graduates show a bias towards freshly passed out candidates. They prefer the 2010 freshers over the 2009 freshers. After all, if he has not found a job for over a year, maybe he is not good enough, they think.
S still has not found his job and it is nearly two years since he passed out. The longer his employment record remains empty, the more remote his chances of landing a job. Problems about conflicts in seniority in age vs. experience, imagined or otherwise, crop up during the few interview he manages to wrangle.
Pressure at home is intolerable. Parents think S is just lazy and make sure they tell him at every opportunity. S, in desperation, is driven to a company in Hyderabad that promises to give him an employment record for a fee. He coughs up the money and buys two years of experience and a matching set of documents including a well crafted resume, an offer letter, a service letter, a relieving letter and even a last payslip.
Now he no longer has to compete with the freshers. S has got 2 years of experience now. He hopes that nobody will find out that the company he is supposed to have worked for doesn't even exist. He is a fugitive for the rest of his life, not knowing when justice will catch up.
The people who fake their resumes because of the first reason are just plain criminals. They probably would have done it anyway! I hope companies find out in time and avoid recruiting them.
However, the second set is driven to crime (and faking a resume is a crime, whatever you may say!) and some of my sympathies, I must confess, are with them.
If, as companies, we all decide, it will be quite easy to make sure that the the story I have told does not end that way. All we have to do is make sure we give the 2009 batch candidates at least the same priority as those in the 2010 batch. After all, it is not their fault that the market tanked now!
If there are company heads reading this, please, please, please, don't forget the 2009 batch. They are every bit as smart as the other batches and deserve all the chances we can give them.