Pre Employment Screening & Validation Services

1D Mereworth Business centre,
Hermitage Farm, Danns Lane,
Wateringbury, Kent. ME18 5LW

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Exposed: the fakers behind the CV masks

Taken from the The Sunday Times 9th March 2008.

Dodgy CVs can be - literally - a matter of life and death for organisations. A survey by NDF Associates last month found that a third of NHS trusts had identified health workers who had used fake CVs. The Harrogate-based CV-checking company also found that some candidates had concealed criminal convictions.

Fraudulent job applications are on the rise, according to Jonathan Cray, managing director of Control Risks Screening, which sells preemployment vetting services. “We’re facing an increasingly ambitious workforce prepared to take bigger risks to secure better jobs,” he says.

A more mobile and international workforce only adds to the risks, the workload of HR departments and the potential for slip-ups, he says. Outsourcing such work as cross-checking CVs with other information can bring faster turnaround times and save money. But there are other compelling arguments for handing the job to specialists such as himself, claims Paul Carratu, managing director of Carratu International, a risk mitigation and corporate investigation consultancy.

“The objectivity and discretion of a third party are important. Do you want all your staff to know what everyone else has been up to? If screening is done in-house, several people will see private details and that can lead to gossip.”

Carratu says he knows of a company that hired a financial director on the basis of his Oxbridge tie and lightly checked CV. Tighter, more objective scrutiny would have revealed that the candidate - who went on to defraud the firm of £3.5m - had gained his qualifications while serving a prison sentence for fraud.

Cray advises companies that may want to outsource their security checks to find out whether prospective service providers match their own global footprint and growth ambitions. “Your provider’s research reach in geographic, temporal, linguistic and cultural terms is important,” he says.

“Does your provider have operations around the world? Does it have access to local data sources and does it understand local markets? Linguistic capability is important, too. Database information in some parts of Africa, for example, can be slim, and speaking the language in order to get the right information can be invaluable. Being aware of cultural differences is also a factor: what is acceptable information to request in one country may not be acceptable legally or culturally in another.”

Firms about to outsource should look at all the variables of their business, says Carratu. “If there’s going to be a big seasonal increase in your recruitment, can your provider gear up to that? Can your provider offer preinterview screening? Does it offer full visibility? Can it enable you to log on to its system to see in real time how each application is progressing?”

Finding the right provider will become more important as the complexity of background checks and the requirement for them grows, says Carratu.

“Tougher legislation is becoming a real issue across a range of sectors, from financial services to organisations serving children and companies employing drivers. A lot of businesses think they are up to date on this but they are not.”

Cray adds that “being seen to minimise the risks of fraud and limiting the potential damage to your organisation’s reputation” are factors that are growing in importance to stakeholders, employees and shareholders alike.

Peter Yapp, head of Control Risks’ information security consultancy practice, says there are measures every business can take to mitigate the risks involved in entrusting their data to a third party.

“There are certain things to look for in an outsourcing partner, such as ISO 27001 certification. Even if they are not accredited to that standard yet but are working towards it, it is a good indicator that they have the right environment in which to store your data.

“You can also insist on the right to audit your outsourcer’s facilities. People don’t often think of including that in the contract, but it means you will be able to find out in practice what happens to your data.

“Getting your service provider to sign nondisclosure agreements and having an auditable database, so you can see what records their people have looked at and what they have printed out, are also good ways to ensure peace of mind.”

The political fallout from the recent loss of data from the Home Office in the UK and the impact on the share price of American retailer TJX after hackers stole its credit card records for 45.6m customers (the price fell 13%), show how vital the issue of securing data properly is in today’s computerised world – and HR departments need to be vigilant over the security of candidate and employee records.

“It may well be that the environment in an ordinary HR department is an open one that is not ideal for holding sensitive data,” says Yapp. “Specialist service providers’ facilities and handling processes should be secure.”

Moves towards the imposition by the government of binding obligations on businesses to secure their data will also increase the pressure on firms to look beyond their own HR departments for data checking and storage solutions.

Faster candidate checking

AFTER a merger in 2006, which doubled the size of data services company Telecity, Suzie Heath, above, the firm’s HR director, decided to review the way the company carried out its background checking. “The merger gave us the chance to review what the HR team does. It made us think about outsourcing some of our work,” she says.

“One issue was that we never seemed to have time to chase up references. We used to have a standard approach, contacting two past employers and one personal referee. But because this is a security business, we realised that was no longer good enough.”

Outsourcing to Eurocom CI, an employee screening service, held the promise of tighter and faster background checking. Eurocom CI has carried out checks on 65 people since its contract, which is open-ended, started in May 2007; Telecity plans to recruit another 40 employees across the group this year.

Cost was a secondary issue, but an important one, says Heath. “Comparing like for like, I don’t think outsourcing costs much more than what we were doing before, but the improvement in quality has been significant. The references we get now are more in-depth, with additional checks of media archives, professional memberships and professional qualifications. It gives us a lot more insight into potential employees.”

Telecity’s internal customers are also happier, as Eurocom CI provides online tracking of how the screening process is progressing. They can expect turnaround of some checks in as little as 48 hours.

“We don’t waste time chasing up queries from managers about how the process is going or when the new employee can start. It saves us a lot of wasted effort,” adds Heath.

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