Do not let your ‘guard’ down!

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The urbanization of towns and cities has led to swanky office complexes, malls, restaurants and fancy residential complexes mushrooming up. They provide excellent amenities and there is a definite feel good factor to them. However, when I visit a lot of the aforementioned places, I feel, while we go to great lengths ensuring the ‘feel good’ factor is taken care of, we sometimes overlook the basics. Even Maslow’s hierarchy of needs emphasizes that only once we achieve one level, do we move upwards. Our most basic need is that of security.

When I enter a lot of places, I find guards sleeping, lazing around, looking disinterested, bored, busy on their mobile phones, chit chatting around and generally whiling away their time. Isn’t security supposed to be serious business? Aren’t these people whom we entrust our security upon supposed to be vigilant, alert, fit and most important trust worthy?

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How confident are you about the security agency guarding your house, office, child’s school or college? Was it hired because it came cheap? Was the guard’s background check done? Does he have a criminal past? Chances are high that the guards’ background has not been vetted and they have no training whatsoever to do what they are supposed to be doing.

Even today, most guards do not have background checks done on them. Those who run security businesses and are in charge of supplying manpower need to be very careful about whom they hire. People’s lives could be at stake and properties worth a large amount of money are involved.

Is the guard at your society, kid’s school, kid’s activity centre, tuition centre verified? Shouldn’t the guards employed around have clean records? How would we know? Just because the guards wishes you and brings up his hand to his forehead to greet you every morning and evening doesn’t guarantee a clean background.

There’s a rising demand for security guards, a highly unorganized market, fly-by-night operators and lack of background checks leads to poor quality service and serious concerns of safety. In a lot of criminal cases, the perpetrators are enabled by these same guards. These guards have very often been caught providing information which helps in the crime. In many cases, the crimes have been committed by these very guards. Crimes involving security guards are increasingly on the rise in India.

Just recently in Bangalore, a watchman, employed a week ago, cut an apartment’s window grill and got in when the family was away. Look at the irony – hired to guard the house, the same person does the exact opposite. The family lost valuables and gold worth INR 32 lakhs.

I strongly recommend each of you reading this to ensure that the guards around you have had their backgrounds verified. Their addresses need to be checked, IDs need to be vetted and their criminal background checks need to be done.

Better to be safe than sorry! Like I said earlier, don’t let your guard down!

Background verification – for Banks

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India woke up to a fraud of eleven thousand and five hundred crore rupees. What a big number, with seven zeros at the end. That too, from a bank, which was government owned, a public sector bank.

If we understand this whole fiasco in simple terms:

There was an employee in a bank, Mr X. He was at a managerial position, which had a lot of authoritative magnitude attached to its position. Plus, he was very close to the heads of the organization, which trusted this employee with their secret passwords; which generated the Letter of Undertakings.

Now, these LoUs are very powerful documents. This is given only after strict invigilation and audits.

The trust was breached. Unauthorised LoUs were rolled out and this small action led to a fraud of thousands of crores of rupees and an irreversible loss of goodwill.

Time to question the public sector organizations – are we doing stringent background verification – during recruitment and during appraisals? Do you know your own employees?

I guess not!

In September 2005, the central bank had cited cases of technological mishaps, which resulted in losses of money and damaged the lenders’ reputation. The knock of possible fraud was there and the importance was following the ‘Know your Employees (KYE)’ norms was realised, but it was quite short lived.

A know your employees process does a background check during recruitment and after it as well. If only we follow the same in a very strict manner, we can avail the advantages of it and will curb the financial and the goodwill loss.

Here is one question in my mind –

Why can’t we do financial background verification for all the top position holders or those who sit at key authoritative positions?

120318We can find the following answers:

• Tax paid
• Negative accounts paid
• Active accounts including open loans
• Accounts paid according to terms
• Inquiries made by 3rd parties

The employees should always be made aware that such verifications do take place once in a while. The organization will be aware of the financial state of the employee and if there is anything suspicious then it must be looked into on an immediate note.

If such background verification was done for our Mr X, within the time, we would have got the culprit and financial and goodwill loss would have been a little less damaging.

Public sector banks employ a huge number. Of course, having financial background verification for all is not feasible, but for the top level, it can be done and it may save a lot of financial and brand image loss for the organizations. What’s do you say?

Lies on your resume can ‘haunt’ you!

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Blog ImageDid you know that according to a SHRM survey more than 53% of job applicants lie to some extent on their resumes?

We have seen a reported case of Wipro that had fired some employees for lying on their resumes. Police complaints had been filed against head hunting agencies helping them. Such incidents have also been reported in IBM. Does this fibbing only take place at the lower rungs? David Edmondson, CEO – Radio Shack, admitted to lying on his CV about his educational credentials. He was asked to step down by the board of directors.

So, lie on your resume at your own risk! Even a small fib could be the cause for an employer to show you the door, even months or years after you were hired.

Why do candidates lie? In today’s current scenario job markets are so fiercely competitive; it tempts candidates to fabricate their credentials. So, is it really a big deal, after all, if you misrepresent your experience, fabricate your job qualifications, exaggerate your education? Well, yes? Being an employee working at a background verification company, I can vouch for the fact that employers are getting tougher when it comes to cross-checking information. They want to be sure and ensure they are making the right decision.

Recently, a CareerBuilder survey reported on what job seekers tried to get away with most often:
• Embellished skill sets
• Embellished responsibilities
• Dates of employment
• Job titles
• Academic degrees

Let’s learn from others mistakes! Here are some examples of people who paid a heavy price.

Plan to lie about where and when you worked? Think again! These fibs are cause for an employer to show you the door; even months or years after you were hired. Tegan Acree, Director – Human Resources and Training for Nuance Communications, shared a story from a company where she previously worked. The organization hired a high-level executive who claimed on his resume he had worked on Wall Street. When the employee underperformed and his employer became suspicious, a few calls revealed he had forged all of his experience. In fact, he was working for three different companies at the same time. Needless to say, he was soon working for one company less.

Another category in this genre is the – ‘Lies of omission’. Lisa Rangel, Managing Director – Chameleon Resumes and a former recruiter, recalls a candidate for a position in the legal department of a media company who never completed the degree listed on her resume. When the candidate was confronted she retorted that she was never explicitly asked whether she earned the degree or not. I don’t need to mention further. Her fate is but obvious.
Lying about your degree can also come back to haunt you – even in the unlikely event that no one notices right away. A dean at MIT, yes the prestigious MIT, resigned her post after working there for 28 years when the university audited its files and learned she did not have degrees from the three schools listed on her initial resume. Candidates, please enhance your credentials – for real!

In case you have done any of the above or have come up with a new trick to enhance your resume. Don’t worry, there is still hope. Mentioned below are a few options on what to do, if your resume contains something other than the truth:

A. Get up and update your resume right away – Off course, there are no guarantees that you will get the job or even get shortlisted. But you could update your resume – erase the lies, update the truthful facts and tell the HR person that you noticed some typo errors on your resume and would like to resubmit an updated copy.

B. Come out in the open and tell the truth – Another option is to tell the hiring manager the truth, which will probably cost you your prospective employment. Nevertheless, at least you won’t be hired based on a lie and won’t have to be anxious about someone discovering the lie.

C. Withdraw your application – Another alternative is to withdraw your job application. You don’t have to give an explanation as to why. You can simply express thanks to the employer for the invitation and say you won’t be able to join them due to personal reasons. You have evidently lost your prospect of getting the job; however this is the safest option if you don’t want to give explanation or to have to deal with the consequences of lying.

Lying on your resume can come back to haunt you, sometimes even many years down the road. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead of lying, be tactful and market yourself creatively. So cheers to all those honest job seekers out there, you make the hiring world a better place to be in! For my friends who have lied and now regret, I have given you a few options to choose from. It’s never too late, to come back on the right track, it’s never too late to demonstrate integrity! Finally, for those who have lied on their resume and feel it’s worth taking the risk – God be with you, my friend!

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for February 2018

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for February 2018.

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We observed that 0.4% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in employment verification (accounting for 100% of the total discrepancy).

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A lie is a lie – always!

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Mr. X applied in an organization. He got the job. It was one of those organizations which believed in the honesty of all the candidates, and never indulged in any background verification; I guess they were saving on some expenses. Whatever be the reason, so this new candidate had sadly fabricated the resume, and on basis of same bagged this job.

Mr. X was a good man, but due to huge competition, this was an unwanted step he had to take. He was well aware of the consequences of lying on the resume. But there he was, with a job, on the basis of a beautified resume.

Few years passed progressively for Mr. X. He was happy about the way his career was moving ahead.

His company was taken over by another firm, which believed immensely on background verification.

Mr. X, already aware of the stringent background verification policy of the new company which took over, was very scared. Still he had this small faith that he had given so many years to this organization so no one will take any extreme step against him.

Alas, he was called and informed that the educational degree he had provided was fake. He needs to leave the organization on an immediate note.

27th febLet’s see just a few examples of people who indulged in resume beautification and the price they paid after years:

Gregory Probert, CEO of Herbalife Ltd. – In six years career record, Gregory had an impressive track record and had he not lied in his resume, he would have added more stars for the company and for himself.  But, in 2008 Gregory Probert resigned, post background verification result which stated that he had never completed his MBA from California State University, Los Angeles, despite what his résumé claimed!

David Tovar, former VP of corporate communications for Wal-Mart: David Tovar was up for promotion to a position of SVP in a career of eight years. He had to resign once background verification found that he wrongly mentioned about his graduate degree which he never accomplished.

David Edmondson, former CEO of RadioShack – Joined in 1994 and quickly advanced to the position of CEO by 2002. His educational mismatch was uncovered, post which he resigned after eight years of service.

Marilee Jones, former dean of admissions at MIT – A career of twenty seven years received a bad end when it was discovered that Marilee Jones never received any college degree.

There are many who fit in the position of Mr X. Even a progressive career or long years of service can’t be kept if the truth is uncovered. Are you ready to risk your future? Or are you going to have a safe future and a tougher present, be true on your resume. Some firms will give you a job on your capability and a sword won’t be hanging on your career graph, all the time. So, let’s be true and be more tactful about the points we would like to lie about. What say!

11,700 state government employees sacked

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ImagAs appalling as it’s to read the above, it shocked me beyond words while I was reading up on this! It’s unimaginable to fathom – 11,700 state government employees submitted fake SC/ST caste certificates. Why was this done? It was done to get employment under the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) quotas. 11,700 fake caste certificates were made, submitted and these rogues were availing salary and perks of the state government, meant for the underprivileged.

Thankfully, the scam was unearthed after a probe was initiated as someone in the system got suspicious that thousands of jobs reserved for STs maybe going to those who have got their certificates forged without fulfilling the required eligible criteria. This was done after many years of the fraudsters’ employment. We have heard of frauds being done to secure government jobs. However the above mentioned figure is an eye opener for the concerned authorities and shocking for the general public like us. This industry-level dimension of the con has shaken the whole system and the country. Many of the beneficiaries, an overwhelming majority of them posing as tribal’s, have worked as government employees for over two decades.

Recruited as clerks, many of them now have risen to the position of deputy secretary in the state government. The Supreme Court has directed punitive action against these employees irrespective of their tenure of service. The Supreme Court has ruled that anyone posing as a member of the Schedule Caste (SC), Schedule Tribe (ST) or the Other Backward Classes (OBC) will lose their educational degree or job if their caste certificate is found to be forged.

This is sheer wastage of money, resources, precious training time, all down the drain. If the concerned authorities had only vetted these certificates for their genuity, this fiasco would have been averted. A simple certificate verification would have averted this unpleasant and embarrassing situation for the authorities.

Going forward all state authorities should put in place a process to vet within a definite time frame genuineness of caste certificates issued to those belonging to reserved class in order to prevent unscrupulous elements from taking jobs not meant for them. Professional background verification vendors should be empanelled to ensure the veracity of caste certificates so that unscrupulous non-SC, ST or OBC candidates are prevented from securing jobs meant for SCs, STs and OBCs by producing false certificates.

Employee background verification is a risk-mitigation tool that allows you to verify the accuracy of information provided by new or existing employees. If you’re ready to start verifying, give us a call or send us an email.

Choose your own road!

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There was a Mr. X. He was going through a road. On the side walk there was a hole.

Mr. X was unaware of the hole and he fell into it. He was not looking and walking, he didn’t expect any such thing to happen. We can say it was not his mistake. It took a lot of time to come out of the hole.

He went and spoke about the hole with Mr. Y and Mr. Z.

Next day, Mr. Y was walking the same road. He knew about the hole. But he ignored the thought and went ahead without looking. He fell into the hole. It was his mistake. Obviously, it took a lot of time to come out of the hole.

He went and spoke about it to Mr. X and Mr. Z.

The very next day Mr. Z had to take the same road. He knew about the hole and he even saw it. But he in a hurry for he was getting late for his meeting and assumed that he won’t fall in it. He took another step ahead, and he fell. It took a lot of time to come out of the hole. Yes, he was very late for his meeting.

130218He went and spoke about it with his friends, Mr. X and Mr. Y.

Next day Mr. X had to take the same road, he was extremely careful. He walked around the road. He reached his destination on time.

Mr. Y took an alternate road out of fear of falling again. Mr. Z followed an alternate road too.

Putting the story in today scenario, this is what happens to us – Some Mr. X, falsifies his information in his resume, he gets that job. Post background verification, he ends up losing the same. He takes a lot of time to find another job.

He shared his horrific experience with his friends too.

They took the matter lightly and they beautify their resumes too, to get a job faster and in the best organizations. No suspense, post background verification, they were shown doors.

1 out of 6 resumes have some or the other lie. Are we all going to fall in the hole and go through a really hard time getting out of it? Or are we going to take a better road, without any fallout? It may take more time to get a job with your credentials, but at least it won’t be short lived.

Let’s not become Mr Z, who knows and sees the danger and yet assumes that he, is smart enough to escape the same. With the advent of a new year, hoping that we will have less of fallouts and more of truthful resumes on the job tables, after all honesty is still the best policy. What say!


Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for January 2018

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for January 2018.

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We observed that 1.1% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

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Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in employment verification (accounting for 100% of the total discrepancy).

Old trends, new goals

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A year has gone by, setting some new trends and breaking few records and throwing some new challenges for us to achieve this year. A new year itself signifies fresh beginnings and new goals. The year that went by, leaves us with so much to work on, that the entire year seems to be very engaging and challenging.

Let’s look into most important things been spoken about in the human resource world –30thjan

1) Ban the box:

Mr. X goes for a job and in that form he sees a check box for – criminal history. Sadly, he had one. Some fifteen years ago. He already served his tenure for the wrongdoing. But this question reappears in front of him every time he applies for a job.

What follows with a tick in that check box is, no further calls. He was reluctant to mention the same. He has little choice.

How much ever one repents for their wrongdoing, they don’t get a fair chance for employment. This check box should be banned. It gained a lot of importance last year. Let’s hope this year we don’t let this great initiative die down and take it forward.

2) Credit report history:

Mr. X was to be hired for a post of technical advisor. He is being hired for core technical work. He will have absolute no relation with financial transactions.

His credit score is checked and the result shows bad scores.

We have read, written on the topic, of how important the credit score is! Given the case, we would, to be on a safer side, not hire the employee; he may be the best for the post.

Can we have credit score history discrimination too – whether to do it for the given job position or not? Are we going to have the credit score history checked for all levels and all platforms is a question we all need to look in, this year!

3) Salary Exemption:

Again, this Mr. X goes for a job. The opening is for a position and the company gives a certain salary  range to the employees in that category. But this Mr. X has worked in small companies and hence his salary was quite low as compared to the minimum of the range of the new company.

Mr. X has a lot of calibre and should be given salary as per his capabilities. The job is offered to him with salary below the minimum range, although higher than his last salary.

Another very common case of salary discrimination is – when a lady leaves a job for some reason and wants to get back to work after a year or two, even after she proves that she is the best-fit for the job, she is asked the last salary she drew. On basis of that, the salary is negotiated and not on basis of the range applicable for that particular position.

This is a normal case of inequality of pay. Of course, the financial start of an employee might not be great or he or she took a break, but he or she should not suffer through this pay disparity all through the employment journey.

Isn’t it!

California is the first one to start this rule – that no employer is allowed to ask about the salary history of the employee. Others are following. Well, to me, this sounds like a great start for the fresh year.

Old trends have given us new goals. Let’s all work on it. What say!

Trends and Insights on Background Screening for 2017

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A new year brings new hopes, new resolutions and newer aspirations. As it’s often said, we should let bygones be bygones. This may work; however, in my opinion times gone by have their share of teachings for us. These teachings could also be called knowledge, experiences they come in the form of data, information, statistics, etc. They teach us a lot about what’s done, what could have been done better and what should be done to avert impending disasters. History is a kind teacher! Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do, that too is a route leading to fiasco.

Let’s take a look at the year gone by and make a resolution of not repeating the follies of others. More and more companies are using the process of verification to ensure that the employee/ potential employee has not exaggerated their role or skills or experience. In most cases, firms are reaching out to specialized verification agencies such as ours to carry out these specialized services.

In the year gone by – 2.6% of the total cases handled by us had major discrepancies. 2.6% of the candidates misrepresented information to employers in 2017. Now this is frightening! To understand this further, let us elaborate the various kinds of discrepancies component wise:-

1. 71.2% of the cases had discrepancies in Education verification. Let’s face it; one of the most common aspects of falsification on a candidate’s resume is their education. Since many employers require job-related degrees or diplomas, many candidates may stretch their educational history in the hope that potential employers won’t check for discrepancies. An education verification check can ascertain not only weather the degree/diploma is fake or not, but also – the candidate’s degree/diploma/credentials, graduation or completion date, marks/percentage/CGPA and confirm the official educational accrediting body. Some candidates may have bought degrees or diplomas from companies commonly known as diploma mills. However, a reputable background screening company should be able to uncover these illegitimate degrees that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

2. 25.6% of the candidates fibbed while furnishing their previous employment details. You gave a candidate the current profile on the basis of the previous employment. Now picture, a major discrepancy comes up in that! It’s going to be a mess! Confirming a job candidate’s past work experience is one of the most important background checks an employer can conduct. Looking into a candidate’s past work history can reveal insight into their job stability and loyalty to an employer. Employers should compare what a candidate claims on their resume with the actual information reported by a background screening company. Employment verification can confirm: Job start and end dates, titles held, salary, job duties, completion of exit formalities and rehire eligibility. Working with a leading background screening provider can help employers vet candidates that match the employer’s required work experience for the position.

3. 1.9% of the cases had major discrepancies in address verification – This is scary! Just imagine, the address a potential employee claims to be residing at, turns out to be false. The physical address is usually the first place an organization would look for an employee in case of any adverse happenings. Now visualize, in such a scenario, you realize the address furnished to you is incorrect! Deliberately, an incorrect address was furnished! What a soup you and your company could be in. Therefore, it’s important that the address related information of employees stored in your records is accurate, more so in context of countries like ours where there is no address repository per se.

4. 1.3% candidates fudged their references – Many employers check references as part of the hiring process. A reference check is when an employer contacts a job applicant’s previous employers/ supervisor, colleges and other sources to learn more about his or her employment history, educational background, temperament, efficiency and job fit. It involves talking to references to gain insight into an applicant’s skills, qualifications and abilities to do the job. The employer wants to confirm that the candidate has the right skills for the job and if he/she will fit in well within the organization.

The above mentioned data clearly reflects the areas of concern. So you as an employer/HR head/ recruiting manager or a supervisor need to learn from the year gone by and without fail get the above verification checks done. These checks are not only to be done for new hires by also for the existing workforce, contractors, trainees and vendors.

After all, one bad fish can spoil the whole pond and one rotten apple can upset the apple cart. One bad, overripe or mouldy apple really can cause all the other apples around it to spoil.

“What can I say? I hired the wrong guy and he destroyed everything I’d spent 10 years working for.”

These are the words of Steve Jobs, commenting on how he wrongfully recruited John Sculley as the CEO of Apple, which eventually caused Steve Job’s ouster from the very company he had started.

How much does a bad apple cost? Well I don’t know, but it sure upsets the apple cart! Not all damages are obvious and quantifiable. There are also some hard-to-quantify costs such as lower employee morale, productivity and customer dissatisfaction. Unsurprisingly, it is the ripple effect from these consequences that brings upon the most lethal damage.

So beware and play it safe!

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