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Identifying fraudulent job applications

4th Jun 2021
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Falsified job applications pose an external threat to businesses in the same way as any other fraudulent activity. Hiring fraudulent or underqualified staff can often build up a damaging financial toll to a business. If the necessary checks aren’t in place, a dishonest applicant can successfully secure the role and have their feet under a desk in which they do not belong. Deception in false job applications ranges from inaccurate academic attendance dates to entirely fabricated degrees of no merit.

Verifying candidate credentials is essential in preventing false job applications slipping through the net. With dedicated services in place to avoid underqualified ‘professionals’ remaining undiscovered during the hiring process, including technology that unearths the slightest document inconsistencies, there are numerous ways to mitigate risk when hiring. 

Finding the perfect candidate for a job can be difficult, so it is always worth asking the question if an applicant is almost too good? By implementing the following HR practices you will be able to spot a false job application from a mile away. Doing so early on allows you to allocate your precious time, resources and energy back into your talent pipeline to onboard skilled and more importantly, qualified, applicants.

Transparency is key

From the beginning of the application process, let a candidate know what licenses, qualifications, certificates, background checks and any other documents you will be asking for as part of the hiring process. It is important for the applicant to understand that you, or a recruitment company you have partnered with, will be contacting multiple employers as stated on their application. It’s crucial to establish an accurate representation of who this applicant is in order to make sure that their previous experience is aligned with what is on their CV or the job application they submitted to your company. Often these steps will deter the dishonest applicants away from a business as they recognise the stringent checks that are in place.

Don’t underestimate the power of screening

When analysing an applicant’s credentials and work history, it is always good practice to give them a call to discuss any potential discrepancies you would like to clarify. Give your applicant a chance to explain any unemployment gaps, specific skills stated on their application (ask for details and experience), reasons for leaving past employment and career moves. If it’s an employment discrepancy you’re looking into, ask the applicant for specific information on the address of the previous company, number of employees, name of their line manager etc. Cross-question and listen to evaluate the information being given to you. Is the information on the application consistent with what the prospect says on the phone and is what they are telling you making sense or is something not adding up?

Scrutinise the finer details

When speaking to your applicant on the phone, ask for more specific information, particularly if you want to find out an applicant’s previous day-to-day responsibilities and the challenges they had to face.

If someone has indicated that they have certain skills, check that they’re competent. Do they speak intermediate French? Initiate conversation with them in that language. Do they code Java? Ask them a relevant question about that skill and set tasks which demonstrate their knowledge. Be creative and keep an eye out for well-answered responses. 

Verifying education credentials

With the rise of diploma mills, access to fraudulent credentials is easier than ever. Many job-seekers who use false educational certificates apply for roles in high-risk industries such as healthcare, finance and engineering. A quick internet search to see whether the institution is accredited or not could save you a lot of hassle in the long run. 

Check the institution attendance dates too. Was that specific qualification available at that institution during the time period stated? When you call an applicant, confident and accurate answers will give you a better understanding of whether they are being truthful about their educational history or not.

Look up their LinkedIn

Today, LinkedIn is a powerful tool to check an applicant’s background and circumstances. It can also highlight any background or in consistencies and quickly discredit a dishonest applicant. Taking a look at a prospect’s LinkedIn can present you with a better understanding of their personality and other attributes that could slot in well with your company culture. On the other hand, it’s possible to uncover plagiarism, contradictory application information or inappropriate content that doesn’t resonate with your company’s values. Don’t forget to take a look at the ‘recommendations’ section. This is a great profile section which, if populated, may give you a better understanding of the applicant’s work ethic, achievements and teamwork according to previous colleagues or employers.

Utilising the latest HR-specific technologies

Tools are now available which not only spot grammar and spelling mistakes, but also weeds out any plagiarised content too. With such a competitive labour market, applicants are more inclined to copy and paste any information they feel will give them an edge in the hiring process.

The power of the internet can also be used in your favour; with search engines constantly learning from human input, they are a powerful tool not to be overlooked and can be very revealing. 

Leveraging the right recruitment technology that gives you a 360-view of an applicant’s career history, qualifications and experience will quickly enable you to find ideal candidates much quicker than traditional HR processes. Embracing information-rich hiring tools will allow you to hone-in on the sincere and reputable applicants with no delay. Consider the use of a reliable recruitment tool a necessary part of the ‘quality control’ element of your processes. 

Typos happen and mistakes are made. There may be an explanation, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Use recruitment platforms which offer pre-verified candidates. The cost of a bad hire is not what you want to be held accountable for. Fake job applications are becoming increasingly sophisticated and popular, which is why it is important to consider these steps when looking over job applications in order to protect your business from falling victim to employment fraud.

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