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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Resume Plagiarism

Dear Sue: The company I work for recently announced the closing of several branch locations, including the one I work at. We were told to apply for jobs internally, and my friend and I helped each other with our resumes.

I just found out that he sent in his resume already and that he copied (word for word) the job description I had written and put on my resume. I confronted him about this and told him I was upset, but he said he didnít think it was a big deal and would never be noticed due to the large volume of resumes being submitted.

I feel it is a big deal especially since we were planning on applying for jobs in the same location. I am sure our resumes will be reviewed by the same hiring managers and that the similarities will be evident. How do I handle this with him and the company?

Sue Says: For starters, submit your resume without delay. Your friend already submitted his resume; if you wait to submit yours much longer, it may be too late. Your friend was wrong to copy your job description word for word, and I commend you for telling him so. However, donít make more out of it than you need to or assume he has somehow ruined your future with the company.

If you havenít written a cover letter, do it now, and include it with your resume. Your cover letter is the one thing that can set you (and your resume) apart from your friend or anyone else applying for a job. Highlight the most interesting and intriguing aspects of your career with the company and why you feel you should be considered for a position in another location. Then make a few changes to your job description so that it wonít be identical to the one your friend sent in, and submit it.

There will be many resumes that have similar job descriptions, and as long as you change yours ever so slightly, itís not likely to cause any problems for you. Stop focusing on what has happened and make a plan for the things you want to happen. Write a strong cover letter, submit your resume, secure an interview, and then see to it you do whatever you can to get a job offer. At this point what you do has nothing to do with your friend, but everything to do with you.

Donít create a problem for yourself by drawing attention to something that may be overlooked. And in the future, although it is more fun to do things with others, when it comes to securing a job, you are on your own. Do what you must to take control of what happens to you now and in the future.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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