Roxy Jacenko has publicly called out a former intern for falsifying a reference signed in her name, uploading a screenshot of the reference in question to Instagram.
The letter, which endorsed the intern in question by praising her “marvellous performance” and “amazing prospects for the future”, was brought to the PR mogul’s attention through a run-of-the-mill reference check.
Talking to Mamamia about the fake reference and her subsequent decision to name and shame on social media, Jacenko said the person interned at Sweaty Betty PR casually for 24 hours over the course of one month and “never received a written reference letter from Sweaty Betty PR”.
“I became aware that the letter was circulating during a reference check by another company that [the intern] was applying for a position with.
"As far as I am aware this has not happened with any other intern – falsifying documents is illegal, so I was shocked that even one person would implicate themselves by forging a document."
Jacenko added her reasoning for putting the reference on social media came from a simple a desire to clear her own name.
"I uploaded the post as it’s totally unacceptable and I don’t want people within the industry to think I am recommending this deceitful person.
"People work so hard to get the jobs of their dreams, so it’s not fair for those who have put in the hours, when they are up against candidates that use fraudulent references. Have authenticity and you’ll get the job you want!" she said.
According to Steve Shepherd, recruitment expert and CEO of career coaching firm TwoPointZero, forging documents or lying on a resume, these days, rarely goes unchecked.
"No matter how much we think a potential employer won't find out, it's a very small world; the field you're going to be employed in," he tells Mamamia.
"These days, there's nothing someone can't find out about you with enough time and skill."
Shepherd says of the two ways prospective employees will offer references - written or a contact - most will assume a written reference will be "taken at face value". He says it's "reasonably common", like in the case of Jacenko and her intern, for a company to check in with the reference provider to confirm the testimonial is accurate.
"Any recruiter of their worth would not take a written reference at face value. If you follow up with [the author of the reference], you're able to have a deeper conversation about that person.
"The reality is, if you're doing your hiring process properly, you will validate that written reference."
He also adds that it's not just a reference that a recruiter will cross-check, but a resume, too.
So what can people do, who are desperate for work, but without relevant references from those who they were formally employed by?
Shepherd suggests character references instead, to give a potential employer the opportunity to get a deeper sense of who you are and what you can offer.
"There's a real balance between presenting yourself in the best way possible and lying. You can't lie on anything - not even on social media...it gets around."
Mia Freedman interviews Roxy Jacenko for No Filter about, well, the whole damn thing.