Although job applications are now checked for veracity, more can still be done to eliminate cases of fraud, say background screening companies.
While the demand has grown beyond heavily regulated industries such as the financial sector, Sterling RISQ’s APAC managing director Elizabeth Fitzell said there are market segments where background checks are still not seen as essential.
“It is a best practice rather than a baseline,” she said.
Avvanz managing director Kannan Chettiar said many companies feel it is safe to hire here, but it is even more important that checks are carried out in economies like Singapore.
“We employ a lot of international employees, who have all kinds of backgrounds and all kinds of discrepancies.”
HireRight’s APAC general manager Ko Hui Yen noted that while 83 per cent of Asia-Pacific companies screen local employees, only 48 per cent screen international ones.
This is particularly concerning as some candidates move to other countries to escape negative records, she said.
Ms Ko added: “This lack of cross-border due diligence therefore presents a huge gap in the risk management process.”
Asked why some firms refrain from background screening, Mr Chettiar said they may be ignorant or are penny-pinching.
“They want to save a couple of hundred dollars, but they don’t understand that employing the wrong person can be a huge cost in productivity.
“You also have reputational and brand damage, even security damage,” he said.
Ms Fitzell said a comprehensive screening for an entry-level position costs about $250, which is inexpensive compared to some of the fees companies pay to place candidates.
“There is a sense of assurance that it can afford you,” she said.
“Fundamentally, what we are trying to do is to make sure the person going into the workplace is who they say they are, has the required skills and credentials, and is a person of integrity.”
HireRight’s Ms Ko said Singaporean employers are becoming more vigilant, but the progress being made to stamp out candidate discrepancies has plateaued compared to the wider region.
“We cannot rest on our laurels – eliminating discrepancies requires persistence and consistency in processes,” she said.
As more companies wise up, Mr Chettiar said it is better for candidates to just be honest.
“The moment we catch you, your integrity is going to go down all the way.”
Ms Fitzell thinks change will come from public demand for corporations to take responsibility for risks.
She said: “I think change is going to come from the demand from society as whole.
“It is not acceptable for you to not have people of integrity working for you.”
Recent cases of resume fraud
A 49-year-old man was sentenced to two years and 11 months’ jail and fined $1,600 for using fake qualifications to get civil engineering jobs at 38 companies between 2013 and 2017. He had only a Primary School Leaving Examination certificate but some of the companies had paid him a salary of up to $9,000 monthly.
A lawyer, now 30, was fined $10,000 last year and disbarred this year for falsifying her law degree certificate and transcript on two occasions to improve her chances of getting a job.
A business school owner, who ran a scam selling fake degree programmes between 2004 and 2008, was sentenced to five and a half years in jail after he cheated about $2.2 million from hundreds of students.
NUS was forced to relook its recruitment process after a former medicine faculty member was found to have faked his credentials. A pre-appointment review of his work by West Virginia University in 2012 revealed the fraud.
A man, then 34, was jailed for a year after he was found to have bought fake degrees in human resource management from the Florida International University online for about $8,000.
Source: The New Paper written by Kok Yufeng on 31st May 2019