It causes a lot more disillusionment when rule makers become rule breakers. That was what Avinash Sethi, Co-founder and CFO of Indore-based IT company InfoBeans felt as they caught the lie of their Talent Acquisition head that he was an employee in recruitment firm. In reality, he was its founder and had shut down the firm a year back. This is not one of the rare cases. "We have been regularly getting negative surprises ever since we started background verification for our teams this fiscal," says Sethi.
He adds, "It is sad to see that professionals in India play all kinds of tricks when it comes to ethical and moral aspects." What's more disheartening is that it is not just newcomers but senior executives too have the chalta hai attitude. Data from background verification firm Authbridge corrobates this. According to data from 1400 firms they work with, candidates between 35 to 45 years have the highest percentage of misinformation in their resumes.
The top issue on fraudulent information, according to Authbridge's Annual Trend Report 2019 for Employee Background Screening relates to employment tenure, qualification verification, address verification, reference check and even identity verification.
Kamal Karanth, co-founder of specialist staffing firm Xpheno says that the most common distortion is by extending job tenure. He explains, "The gap between jobs is still seen as a crime. From hiring perspective, India is yet to wake up to the fact that people can be without a job for different reasons other than bad performance." Due to this strong bias in recruiters, people try to cover it up to get the negotiating power in the new job role.
The second most common instance is when candidates play up experience or knowledge of 'hot skills'. Even if they have worked on cyber security for a month or two, they boast about in-depth knowledge of the subject.
AuthBridge CEO and Founder Ajay Trehan doesn't think this is a new trend. Global companies following international regulations have always had strong screening processes. But now every large Indian company also understands the cost and reputation risk of not doing employee background verification.
He adds that catching fraud is an ongoing game but what worries Trehan is when people go to bogus colleges and get genuine certificates made. A whopping 41 per cent are degree certifications obtained from unrecognised universities and 33 per cent are fake or forged documents. He says they also find cases when people start living the identity of another person. He shares the instance of a commerce graduate who stole and started living the identity of his former employer who was the founder of the Mumbai-based chartered accountancy firm. He got caught when he applied for a job and AuthBridge checked his employment records. This might be an extreme case but mostly companies at the admission of slighted deceit, however trivial, terminate the employment.
Sethi has come up with a strategy that allows people to repent through penance. He says, "It is easy for us to fire people but they will go out in the market and do it again. So, rather than stalling their career we want them to give them an opportunity to amend their ways." For instance, when they caught a person who had submitted a fake taxi bill, they deducted his one month salary and asked him to give the cheque to the NGO of his choice. The person can choose to leave but if they want to stay, they pay the price. "I think this penance idea is working as we have several instances of people who decided to stay back and some of them have been with us for 4-5 years," he says.