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Faking software knowledge, ability to work on a package or even experience in a firm are par the course for many. Pradeep Soundararajan explains why it spells trouble.
Faking in IT is perhaps more dangerous than the fake pilot scam, which unfolded recently, because even the genuine pilots rely on software to fly the plane safely.
If you notice, the fake experience scam amongst pilots started around the time when India witnessed a lot of new airline companies starting operations.
The need for pilots surged as compared to the supply. This was an opportunity for institutes to cash in (of course, in wrong ways, too) and some did. The IT boom has always been there, and so is the opportunity to fake and get away with it.
Here's what Murali Jayaraman the founder of Tespro, an IT and Software Testing training institute that advices its candidate to stay away from faking had to say: "In all our training programmes, we educate our students about company values & ethics and what comes first between an employee and employer."
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh and Dominic Xavier
The sin of faking experience gives rise to the fear of being caught. Once caught, life becomes more miserable. Here's another excerpt from citehr.com: "I was earlier working in company X. The company terminated me mentioning that I faked with my experience and this was mentioned in my experience and relieving letter."
Some people might have fallen victims to social pressure of getting a job and earning well.
They might have felt the fastest and easiest way to get rid of the pressure was to fake. However, once they mature and learn that they shouldn't have faked they feel bad about it.
Once the mistake is realised there are two choices people usually make -- to correct it or bury the past and move on.
One among those who wanted to correct was Ryan (name changed) who was seeking my mentorship to get a job after having realised that he shouldn't have faked his experience in some interviews.
He was bold enough to go to the next interview and say, "Sorry, I think I shouldn't be interviewed for this position because I faked my experience when I applied to this job."
Luckily for him, he got the job for displaying honesty.
I suspect that might not usually happen to everybody who would fake and then tell the truth about it.
Today Ryan is leading a happy life and enjoying his career because he learnt that honesty, ethics and integrity are what that make a person happy for a long time.
We would recommend that you don't yield to people wooing you to fake and also let your friends and juniors at college know that they shouldn't ever fake their experience or skill set.
There are several reasons why they do it but if you ask those who faked they would always have a sentimental story to tell.
I have heard stories of 'Oh, I have to take care of my parents and I was not getting a job at all for the last 2 years' and 'I moved to the US and was not getting a job for long time. You know how expensive it is here'.
What they actually mean is: 'I lack skills and I found that improving my skills is too hard and faking was an easier alternative'.
A student of a software training institute once met with me as she was annoyed by what the institute she was going to was telling her.
Keeping her name anonymous she said the staff at the institute made an announcement: "Simply fake. These days no one has time to do background checks for so many people."
However, that staff might not know anything about how the IT industry works.
Once when I was advising a faker not to fake, he challenged me that he would get a job through faking because he thought the industry doesn't do enough checks.
He joined a medium-sized company, which was later acquired by an IT giant.
The IT giant after the acquisition of the medium-size company started to do background check before the merger and fired all who had faked and also blacklisted them forever. The person who had challenged me called me up after a year to tell how wrong he was.
He said, "Not listening to your advice was easy but I am now paying a huge price for it."
For about three years that person couldn't find a job.
The credibility of a training institute depends on how many people they place.
Just by browsing some of the institute websites we would know that the highlighted sections in it are placements.
They use this as an important tool to attract a lot of people wanting to join the institutes.
So, if a job seeker walks in to an institute and is provided with information that most of students of the last few batches have got jobs in top companies, it convinces the job seeker to pay for the training.
As there are large number of people who don't get placed from the campus or make into IT in their first attempt, there is a huge market space that they create for training institutes to make them learn skills in demand and improve their chances to get an IT job.
Some training institutes, to boost their placement percentage and to cash in on the opportunity, woo their students to fake their experience after their training.
Those institutes that facilitate faking, support their act by backing them up with stories of how they have helped such people in the past and the success such people have had in getting employment and retaining them.
They appear to hide the truth that faking experience could land someone in jail or they can be blacklisted by all the IT companies.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in India appear to have a blacklist that allows organisations to report fakers to the list so that other organisations could be saved from hiring one from the blacklist.
However, personally, I am not sure of its effectiveness. However, a lot of fakers work for companies even registered with NASSCOM.
They also appear to maintain a blacklist of institutes who help people fake their experience and circulate among the registered companies so as to help them be watchful of candidates coming from those institutes. But I know of institutes that are still wooing people to fake their experience.
The IT industry in India is yet to learn that their staff's interview skills are so poor that those who fake have been getting through those interviews.
For instance, if you Google for companies such as Infosys or Wipro interview questions for any specific experience or a skill set, you would come to know the kind of questions asked and what people gave as responses.
For that matter, when I had to go for a written test with Infosys, some people were referring to a question paper, which was leaked on the Internet.
The IT industry interviews aren't skill-based but knowledge-based. The education system in India is great in producing people who can memorise a 1500 page book, word-to-word and inch-to-inch.
Any faker with decent memorisation skills could crack any IT interview, which is based on knowledge.
If the IT industry fails to start testing the skills instead of pure knowledge, in just a couple of years you could see lots of failure from software being produced, thanks to those who fake their resume.
This is the reason why at my company, we ask potential candidates to test software from an open source project and send their test reports to us. This acts like their career horoscope for us to filter fakers right away.
There are product companies like McAfee who are also doing skill assessment of applicants during personal interviews and hence it is becoming harder for fakers to get through such organisations.
However, there are a lot of organisations in India that are yet to learn this lesson.
What are you going to do? The answer is with you, not with me.