Phony Social Networking IDs for Recruiters - fair play?

Obvious phony identities are encountered from time to time on linkedin, facebook, and twitter as well as several other locations where recruiters see potential to find candidates. Whether the name is John Doe, William Peters, Jane Foster, or something with some originality, recruiters set up fake identities for a number of reasons. Maybe they are running a secondary business that they do not want their employers to know about. Maybe they don't want ex-employers to know they are breaking their confidentiality or non-solicitation agreements. Perhaps it is simply a way to recruit anonymously. Whatever the reason, is it ethical? Should a recruiter always only use his/her true identity? Is it sleazy? I have not seen anything written on this subject. I am curious what other recruiters have to say on this subject. Let me know.

Views: 189

Comment by Stuart Musson on March 8, 2010 at 9:05pm
This is a slippery slope for sure and in my humble opinion I think that creating a fake profile is on the sleazy side of things.

If you cannot openly use your own identity to do your job because you need to hide things then maybe you should be re-thinking your career choice. I am sure we all have "monsters" in our closets and if one looks hard enough they will be found but to have to hide behind a fake profile is really asking for trouble when you are finally found out to be a fraud.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 9, 2010 at 4:01pm
Question, how do you know they are phony?

In my early days of recruiting i worked for a firm who wanted us to use "desk names". The reason stated was to protect us from being called at home or to prevent ire being directed to us personally from company owners that we were calling in to recruit their employees.

I preferred to use my own name because i was building my own reputation, didn't have a problem being called at home and didn't have a problem with someone fussing at me about calling their people.

I don't think it is unethical to use an assumed name if one chooses to do business under that name. Many recruiters use a maiden name or a desk name if their spouse is in a high profile position and they do not choose to leverage on the spouses name. Many foreign last names are shortened or desk names are used for communication purposes. A lot depends on the reason for using an assumed name. If John Doe is a good recruiter, performs for candidates and clients under that name there would not seem to be any ethical problem.

The instances you describe of breaching a non compete or working outside the current employers venue would of course be a breach of a contract or company policy that could be construed as both illegal and unethical.
Comment by Sean Ryan on March 9, 2010 at 5:08pm
Stuart - how is that different than telling a company that you have a "passion" for doing whatever it is they do - without having worked there.

People put on a face everyday that's not necessarily their own.

Also, a slippery slope... to what?
Comment by Peter Ceccarelli on March 9, 2010 at 5:31pm
When I use my desk name, Jane Fonda.......My God, the call backs are amazing!
Comment by Stuart Musson on March 9, 2010 at 8:06pm
Hi Sean, I was referring to a slippery slope of creating a fake identity and then having to keep that persona up moving forward or for creating it to get around non-compete or other unethical practices the author suggested.

I would not think to use a "desk name" or fake name as I have always represented myself. Like Sandra has suggested I have always used my name because MY reputation is what I have been building over the past 12 years.

There are some valid points as to why a desk name could/should be used as pointed out above but to knowingly create a fake identity because of non-compete or other unethical practices is wrong, again in my humble opinion.

I believe you can have a passion for what a company DOES (IE Recruiting) and say it because it is true. However to tell them you have a passion for THEM as a company would be totally different because as indicated you have never worked there; so that would be a false statement.

Have a great day!


Stuart Musson
Precision Recruiting Services Inc.
Comment by Sean Ryan on March 10, 2010 at 2:15pm
Agreed. I would never suggest creating a fake name/profile in order to do anything illegal.

I'm just on the side that there are plenty of legal, practical reasons where creating a fake profile would be completely legit. I just don't - in this instance - see how it's a slippery slope. The "slippery slope" argument is thrown out all too often where ti doesn't even apply. I believe this is one of those instances.

But I'll save that discussion for Philosophy 101.

Hope your day is going swimmingly,

Sean Ryan
Head Spinmaster
CATS Software Inc.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on March 10, 2010 at 2:44pm
I think Sean that the "slippery slope" Stuart was refferring to here was the ...if you tell one lie you have to tell another. Or in perhaps more civil tones..if you use a desk name or an assumed name be sure you want to live with it from now on or explain to someone who discovers that you use a desk name and are not that person.

I have been known to use the name Sabrina Scott and give some nice gentleman the number for dial a prayer when asked for my name and phone number. when introduced to the same person at a later date by my real name i was forced to say Sabrina was my evil twin who delights in giving inappropriate answers to inappropriate questions.
Comment by Sean Ryan on March 10, 2010 at 2:51pm
That must have been fun for you... :-)

In Philosophy 101 terms, though... that's not a "slipper slope' argument. That's a "come back around and kick you in the pants" argument...
Comment by Steve Fleischner on March 10, 2010 at 2:59pm
In the old days when recruiting was a job and not a lifestyle choice, assumed names were more common, sometimes just to simplify a complicated last name. Today however, recruiting is more ingrained in the professional recruiters life and more 24/7 so that makes the use of an assumed name more awkward.


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