Resume fluffing is a growing problem in the IT industry. Now, a Bangalore-based agency that conducts background checks of potential employees has compiled a list of 1,500 fake companies that have been established for the sole purpose of providing employment certificates for a fee. Candidates reportedly pay up to Rs 15,000 per year of certification.
“In this industry, every year of experience means thousands of rupees in increment,” said K V Narendra, CEO of Rezorce, the agency that culled the list from background checks over the last three years. “When people change jobs or want to change roles, resumes change to reflect the aspiration of the person, rather than the actual experience. Ambitions and peer pressure encourage even the most sensible people to take risks.”
According to a survey conducted by AuthBridge, a background screening company, 18% of candidates across professions fluffed their resume to land a job in 2012-2013; in the industry-wise breakup, the IT industry stands at 24.11%. AuthBridge founder and CEO Ajay Trehan says the highest discrepancy of 37.31% was found in pharmaceutical/ biotech/ clinical research companies because unlike the IT industry, they weren’t early adopters of background verification. Most IT companies today have a rigorous internal background verification process and also hire external third parties to investigate potential employees’ employment and educational credentials, address confirmations and any criminal records. While these measures have brought the number of fake resumes down, industry sources say it’s an uphill battle. “The fake CV issue surges in the post-recession phases, as people tend to cover up gaps in employment or unemployment,” said Deepak Jain, SVP and global head, workforce planning and development, Wipro.
Prospective candidates are tipped off about these certificates by middlemen who work in the company where the job is sought. AuthBridge, with over 400 clients cites a case study where verification of candidates who had applied for jobs in a leading BPO revealed their previous ’employer’ to be the owner of a 5′ x 5′ mobile repair shop, who was responding to the new company’s verification calls. The recruitment agency working for the BPO was in cahoots with the candidates to perpetuate this fraud.
While companies like Wipro have an automated internal system that flags resumes listing companies known to issue fake certificates in exchange for money, Narendra’s ‘Rezorce Check Employer Red Data’ list can be viewed for free on the company website (www.rezorce.com).Rezorce has investigated each company’s fiscal records, by checking either their income tax,service tax, VAT, provident fund, department of telecommunications and ESI records to verify their legal existence. They also check the company’s physical existence by visiting the office, or through postal records. The agency has posted proof of research for companies they have labelled fraudulent on the site (screenshots of the ministry of companies, provident fund, postal service website etc that clearly shows blanks drawn while investigating the company) as well as the name and designation of the promoter.
The problem of resume fluffing exists primarily in lower level jobs in the IT industry. “We used to have 40 to 45% fake resumes for jobs like ERP and data entry operators, but not in jobs that require skills like Java,” said Dheeraj Babu, HR manager of software company CITAGUS.
Trehan says that leadership positions are not screened, as most are filled through referrals, but there is cause for concern at this level too. “Recently, the CEO of an IT company heading the India region applied for the top job in my client’s company. But we found out that he had furnished a fake certificate claiming that he graduated from IIM-Ahmedabad in 1987,” Trehan said, revealing that in the last one year, about 8% of offers made to leadership positions across industry were withdrawn for furnishing false information.
The fact that most companies choose not to take legal action against those caught padding their resumes has emboldened others to follow suit. “We generally allow an amicable exit for those candidates as filing a criminal case is a waste of time,” said Babu. But as a result, fraudsters are finding new, creative ways to beat the verification system, says Aditya Narayana Mishra, president — staffing and director — marketing, Randstad India. “Earlier, they would forge company letterheads and experience certificates. But today, they create fake websites that capture their employment history. They look genuine and the person responding to our queries sounds genuine. But a thorough verification reveals that these websites are fake,” Trehan stated.
However, candidates are wising up to the consequences of taking these steps. K Ravindra (name changed), an ERP professional, says his failure to land a job for two years pushed him to inflate his work experience by three years. “But I was caught by the company six months later. I had to beg them not to pursue a criminal case against me, so they asked me to resign,” he said. Employed today, Ravindra offers advice to others, “So-called well-wishers will offer you these options, but don’t fall into the trap. Once a company blacklists you, your life is ruined.”
Source: The Times of India