Talent Development Centre

The Growing Problem of Fraudulent Credentials (and the impact on honest consultants!)

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

The Growing Problem of Fraudulent Credentials (and the impact on honest consultants!)

Let me start by saying that the vast majority of contractors and applicants are 100% honest and represent themselves, their work and educational achievements fairly and correctly. That said, there is a growing issue in the labour market of people misrepresenting themselves in order to qualify for open postings. This may have been the case for years and it flew under the radar; however, with new vetting techniques and technology it is getting caught more and more often. Also, as more companies are being burned by fraudulent activity, they are both demanding and completing deeper vetting of candidates.

Misrepresentation takes multiple forms, from small embellishments and mis-matched dates covering small gaps in work experience, to much more nefarious activities. Some of the more brazen attempts to mislead potential employers include:

  • Presenting completely falsified resumes: This can be done as an individual doctoring their own resume, or there are “resume banks” available to people who pay to use them. This can include education or work experience falsification, but sometimes the entire resume is completely fabricated.
  • References are often faked: Friends, family or even themselves as the person who answers the phone number of the given reference.
  • Stand-ins for phone interviews (or even Skype interviews!!): Whereby someone with the actual knowledge completes the technical job interview on the fraudster’s behalf. The unwitting company hires and doesn’t realize that there was a change until they show up on the first day of work. If the company is complex enough, the people conducting the interview may not even be the same people who meet the new hire on the first day. Pretty brazen of them to try this!

It is unclear what people are trying to accomplish by faking their way into a job in these ways. It will catch up with them. They aren’t truly qualified to complete the work and they will be terminated, if not for the fraud then for incompetence. However, there are desperate people and if they can fake their way to earning even a few weeks’ pay before being found out then they move on to their next “victim”. It is too time-consuming and costly to press charges… and they get away with it.

What is the industry doing about this? Well, many companies are completing their own vetting even if they use a recruitment agency to source and qualify candidates. IT is a small industry and if someone says that they worked for XYZ Corp., then there is likely someone at the company that knows someone at the other company who can verify whether the candidate actually did what they said they did. Staffing agencies have been doing this for some time now and it is standard practice in the fight against fraudsters. Another check is simply a comparison against old resumes. Most agencies collect resumes from people over the course of many years – older experience in new resumes must match that found in their older resumes, and also in their LinkedIn profiles. References may not be called at the number given by the applicant, but rather they may be contacted via social media or called at their place of work using the company’s main number, making it much more difficult to arrange to have a “fake-someone” complete the interview. Additionally, there is now new technology (AI) being employed to rate the likelihood that an applicant is falsifying their resumes and there are new 3rd Party vetting services that specialize in deeper dives/forensic reviews and vetting. Most recruitment agencies employ one or more of these companies to ensure experience and education listed are accurate. There are also registries being set up that use blockchain technology to verify the accuracy of the data people share. Applicants will have full control over who receives and sees their private information, and the companies this is shared with will be guaranteed of its accuracy.

What is important for consultants to take away from all this is that the industry is now “awake” to resume/applicant fraud and is taking significant steps to uncover issues prior to hiring. 99%+ of people are honest and don’t need to be concerned; however, even honest people can make mistakes. I encourage anyone reading this to go through their resume with a fine-toothed comb to ensure all is completely accurate. It is so easy to mess something up with changes from one version of the resume to another. You absolutely should adapt your resume to best match the role to which you are applying, but adapting isn’t embellishing.  Even though the content might look different, it should still be in sync with what was presented in older resumes. The chance that even small inconsistencies are caught are very much more likely than it ever was before and these little, seemingly insignificant issues, could cost you a job for which you are applying. In this way, attention to detail is more critical than ever.

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