In today’s competitive job market, candidates often fabricate or conceal information on their résumés, in an attempt to tip the scales in their favour. It has become common practice to tweak or stretch the truth on résumés, but believe it or not, this seemingly harmless practice is considered fraud.

Fraud is defined as wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain, and falsifying information on your résumé fits the bill. So why do candidates continue to do it? A résumé is a platform to highlight your accomplishments and showcase your most valued skills. Most times, this is what hiring managers use to determine if you would be a good fit for the company and if you are worth meeting in person. So, you see, the stakes are high.

Over the past few years, there have been several precedents of people in senior roles stripped of their titles, jobs, reputation and remunerations as a result of providing false information on their résumés.

In May 2012, then Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson was ousted after it was found that he had padded his résumé with an embellished college degree.

In May 2002, Sandra Baldwin, the first woman to be appointed president and chairman of the US Olympic Committee, resigned after admitting she had published false information on her résumé.

This issue is becoming increasingly rampant and difficult to catch in India, due to the lack of a single standardized platform for identification. Tight timelines for hiring and cost-consciousness often tempt recruiters to go easy on checks and verification. There is no shortage of paths to obtain fake documents and false credentials.

According to First Advantage, a criminal background check company, the overall discrepancy in information supplied on résumés across India was 10.4% during the fourth quarter of 2017. The breakup is as follows:

  • Employment (60.5%) - The employment component encompasses information related to incorrect tenure, exit formalities, absconding, inflated designation and false employment.
  • Address (7.3%) – This category includes incorrect or incomplete addres information.
  • Education (6.6%) - Education includes details such as fake documents, suspect institutions, incomplete courses or any other information related to educational background.
  • Others (25.5%) - These discrepancies were related to criminal history, document investigation, reference, database, etc.

The one common thread across all types of résumé fraud is that it inevitably leads to a bad hire, if undiscovered. The repercussions of a bad hire are multi-fold. Since the employee is a representative of the organization, the company’s reputation takes the first blow. Letting the employee go triggers a repetition of the recruitment process, draining company resources, time and effort. Further, a tarnished reputation could dissuade prospective candidates and customers from approaching the organization.

Last but not least, productivity is lost and profitability is affected. In today’s market consumers care about the values of the companies they buy from and the people that belong to the organization. Once we understand the negative consequences of a bad hire, the next question is “What measures can we take to avoid a bad hire?”

Here are five steps that companies use to avoid bad hires:

  • Employee Referrals: Many organizations encourage paid employee referral programs. This is an internal method of recruitment, where existing employees suggest individuals, from within their network, who they believe would be a good fit. The referral fee is usually quite substantial to give an incentive to the employees. Referrals help cut the costs involved in the recruitment process and are generally more dependable.
  • Rigorous interviews and due diligence: Many organizations now have an elaborate, intense and innovative interview process in place, especially for the senior leadership roles. Having a panel of interviewers and more than one round of interviews gives the employer a 360-degree view of the candidate and helps reduce the risk of a bad hire.
  • Professional screening services: Background screening is a risk mitigating tool which can help make informed decisions while hiring. This provides employers access to actionable information, which results in faster, more accurate people decisions. A professional screening service provider can bring to light information that a candidate might not volunteer, making it critical to the recruitment process.
  • Consistent employee checks: On occasion an employee may not have posed a risk when hired but may do so at a later stage due to reasons including but not limited to stressful life events such as bankruptcy, drunk driving, divorce or many others. Checks should be carried out periodically to keep track of emerging risks.
  • Probation: Some industries encourage a probation period (typically six months) before the employees become permanent hires. Probation is a trial period of sorts. During this time the candidate’s skills are tested and their performance evaluated. Employee feedback and observation of new hires helps determine whether they are a good fit for the organization.

There is fierce competition among companies to attract and retain the best talent in the market. People are the most critical asset that an organization has and insight into a prospective candidate’s history and background is key to finding the right hire.

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