The widespread practice of fabricating résumés has seeded a background verification industry, which, experts say, has witnessed a steady growth in the last two years. The industry players’ main job is to catch people falsifying or exaggerating their educational and employment qualifications and salaries by means of fake certificates and salary slips.
According to a study done in 2015 by HireRight, an employment screening service provider, 23% of over 218,000 screenings it conducted in India between January 2014 and April 2015, contained a lie or discrepancy, i.e, three out of 10 resumes screened for verification contained discrepancies, with more than a half of them relating to education. The human resources manager of Trinity Global Solutions, a staffing service, which provides IT resources to companies, told The Sunday Guardian that out of the 100 resumes they receive, over 25 are fabricated. Aditya Mishra, the founder of CielHR, an HR services firm, told this correspondent that around 10% of the resumes they receive contain false credentials.
CAUGHT IN A BIND
“A person I knew added a fake experience of two years at a company that existed only as a website. The company showed the employee getting a pay of Rs 9 lakh per annum, when his actual pay at his previous organisation was around 4 lakh per annum. The fake company forged his salary slips too. The organisation he is currently working with bought into the lie and he ended up bagging Rs 12 lakh per annum,” a source recalled on the condition of anonymity, adding that the fake company had five more such companies operating under it. The person, in return, had to help five of their other customers get placed.
A technical program manager at an IT firm recalled how, at his previous workplace, he had found an interviewee excellent on phone, but became suspicious if he had the experience he claimed he had, on the day of his joining. “It turned out that the person had not only faked his experience, but also had somebody else give his telephonic interview,” he said.
The practice of employers providing fake certificates is prevalent in several small scale BPOs. Experts told this reporter that these BPOs offer internships to students, and in lieu of salaries give and validate fake certificates that sugar-coats their experience.
Narendra K.V., founder and CEO of Rezorce, an organisation which provides verification based services, said that some of these call centres run as proper companies, but they sell their services through security guards and receptionists in reputed IT companies. “When a fresher goes cold-calling, looking for jobs in IT clusters, he/she (with the call centre’s backing) approaches a security guard (of a reputed IT company), who offers him/her an experience certificate for Rs 15,000 along with pay slips, relieving letter, identity badge and service letter,” he said.
One of the most important markets for the growth of background verification industry has been the information technology and business process outsourcing sector (IT-BPO). Experts said the causes of the fraudulent practice were the social and financial constraints to working abroad, and the failure to become engineers or accountants because of academic and financial reasons in today’s increasingly competitive space.
“A lot of people end up getting a basic science/commerce/arts degree or a diploma programme. Once they are in a job, they use the money to go to a skill development school. Typically, a person who has worked in a manufacturing company or someone who is a salesman in a pharmaceutical company, would join an Oracle or similar program (short-duration certificate courses). These people learn the tool. Then the school helps them get a phantom certificate as a visa to an IT/knowledge company,” said Narendra K.V.
“A three-year US work experience helps solve their financial worries. Unfortunately, if people do not have any specialised experience, going onsite (to US) is a dream. In such circumstances, résumés are padded generously to show phantom experience and passed on to recruiters, who push them in,” he added. The fascination to be known as a lead or a manager at a firm also gives them a push, experts noted.
To arrest the increase in the cases of fraud résumés, background verification companies like Jantakhoj employ people who personally visit the prospective employee to get his address verified, send their representatives to the HR of the employee’s previous company, check with the registrar of the employee’s university for his credentials, and reach out to the professional references.
“We ask for additional information like bank account receipts, do credit checks and criminal records,” Tarun Bangari, founder and CEO, Jantakhoj, said. Aditya Mishra, director and CEO, Ciel HR services, said that while the investigative nature of the process is invasion of privacy, it is pertinent to get the employee verified to protect the company’s reputation and turnover.
Rezorce also provides for in-person visits of their employees’ previous companies and universities, and uses advanced data mining to see if a person has any criminal history. The ordinary searches done by the HR manager of numerous organisations on Linkedin and Facebook, experts cited, don’t allow them to see the true nature of the employees’ qualifications. Narendra K.V. added that many recruiters are HR managers themselves, who are provided incentives to recruit people and are pushed not to red flag anyone unless absolutely warranted.
DON’T CARE ATTITUDE
“While organisations today are much more wary and want to go for due diligence, smaller organisations don’t care much and think that going for a proper screening process is a waste of time and money,” Aditya Mishra noted.
The cost of hiring screening specialists or a professional background verifier comes anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 10,000.
“Only 15%-20% companies in the organised sector have tie-ups with some background verifier. A lot of them associate on paper with us, but hardly send us any cases. They try to impress their customers, but in reality they are cutting costs,” Tarun Bangari said.
Experts are of the view that sometimes HR managers avoid additional checks on purpose, since it puts huge pressure on them to recruit.