Resume Verification in the Global Labor Market

  By Polly Archer  |    Tuesday June 27, 2012

Category: Recruiting


Today’s competitive global marketplace requires corporations to build a professional labor force that is multicultural, multilingual, and multinational. But when resumes flow in from all corners of the world, it’s not easy to identify the best and the brightest. Combine that challenge with the pressure to fill open positions and the result can be quick hiring decisions that later turn out to be mistakes. That’s why resume verification and pre-employment screening should be a standard part of the international recruiting process.

What you see on the surface can be misleading

Some employers rely on a resume alone to ascertain candidate suitability, but the resume is simply a selling document designed to attract interest. In reality, there is always much more to be learned about an individual. The key is to capture a complete history of the candidate’s education, employment and other relevant activities, with the aid of an application form. This, of course, makes the screening process much easier but it also sends out a warning to fraudulent applicants. In some cases, the response from such people is to withdraw their application, saving the employer from a potential bad hire but also from wasting unnecessary time and effort at the recruitment stage.

Inconsistencies on resumes are often result of error, but the regularity with which stated qualifications and previous employment details differ from those verified by institutions and employers is surprising. Our candidate screening experience has indicated that approximately 80 percent of resumes contain discrepancies that may influence the hiring decision. Unfortunately, many of these discrepancies are intentional, perpetrated by individuals who think their chances of getting a great job outweigh their chances of getting caught in a lie.

Looking for the employment edge - some individuals take it too far

There are an increasing number of unscrupulous organizations that use sophisticated technology to produce and sell fabricated resumes and educational or professional certificates via the web. Two such examples include a Liverpool-based company selling fake degree certificates to customers worldwide for anything between £70 to £100, and a Californian ‘University’ that has been running for 40 years, although it has never received authority to operate or grant degrees. Research suggests that thousands seek work using degrees from these ‘Diploma Mills,’ which sell their “esteem boosting” diplomas on the Internet.

This sort of activity is global and you’ll find similar services in most countries, including Australia, South Africa, France, Germany, Switzerland, South America, India and China.

While falsified qualifications raise questions about general honesty and integrity, there is a range of searches that may reveal other potential areas for concern. In addition to routine checks by HR departments to confirm the validity of work permits and visas, other checks might include registration regulatory bodies, credit and bankruptcy checks, company appointments, directorships and disqualifications and police/criminal records checks, to name just a few.

How do you spot the fake history and qualifications?

To ensure that the checks carried out are relevant, meaningful and appropriately in-depth, searches may be defined against the position applied for and the level of risk. For example, an entry-level position would justify confirmation of degree and possibly a couple of reference checks, whereas a senior management role might include a 10-year employment history, as well as verification of financial status, company appointments, and a thorough investigation of gaps in employment. The ability to flex the depth of research in this way helps to a balance between risk and cost.

Understanding legal compliance issues and processes is absolutely key for those who carry out resume checks in diverse countries. This helps ensure that screening specialists are operating within the law, and also set realistic goals and deadlines in the recruitment process.

It is generally quick, easy and inexpensive to confirm relevant qualifications and check the candidate’s recent employment history, provided you have the right resources. But HR managers are all too familiar with the administrative burden of reference checking, and tracking down records or referees can be difficult if you’re trying to fit this into an already hectic day. Before you know it, several weeks may pass and you’re just where you started.

As a result, many companies have chosen to outsource this work. The question here is, how to select a provider that is right for you. Pre-employment screening isn’t rocket science, but rather it is about verifying the information provided by the candidate and clarifying any inconsistencies or gaps. Therefore, what you should look for is a company that has effective operating systems to ensure meaningful, timely and cost-efficient results. The supplier must have access to international resources. In-house language skills are useful for referencing purposes, but when it comes to other public record checks, the chances are that this information needs to be accessed locally.

Technology is also starting to play a part in the process. Secure, Internet-based delivery of results, and the ability to review report progress on a real-time basis, enables HR professionals to access their candidate details from anywhere in the world. This harnessing of technology improves service delivery time and cost. From the service provider's point of view, they can have staff working across the globe providing language skills and local knowledge without the constraints of time zones

When you outsource this function you should feel confident that information is obtained in a transparent manner, and that providers have an in-depth understanding of and compliance with local law. It is important that the vendor’s screening processes are both ethically and legally compliant with country-specific laws.

For example, Kroll Background Worldwide (KBW), my firm’s international employee screening service, uses the Internet as a platform so that candidates can enter in their own data. This enables screening specialists to gather pertinent information on candidates, while remaining in compliance with privacy laws that require candidates’ authorization on the transfer of data across jurisdictions.

Despite the constantly changing labor market, employee background checks are one thing that staffing and recruiting professionals can do to reduce employee resume fraud and ensure company security.


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