5 Myths About Verifications and References

Although we like to believe that all job candidates are honest about their past experience and education, it’s unfortunately not the case. Resume fraud is rampant in today’s marketplace – from the CEO level to college graduates – and it’s important for employers to know who they are hiring.

Employment verification, reference checking and background screening are critical steps in the hiring process. These are a necessary investment that every company should make to protect itself from liability.

Here are five of the most common myths that people have about performing verifications and checking references:

MYTH #1
Verifying is Time Consuming or Expensive
REALITY #1
Proper Verification Saves Time and Money in the Long Run
The cost of a bad hire, whether fraudulent or just a bad fit, is quite high. You will have spent money on training and compensation. Mistakes, missed deadlines, alienated customers, theft, damaged equipment, and trouble with other employees can be costly and lawsuits are a possibility. Solving these problems can use up valuable time. Then there are the costs associated with terminating employment, re-advertising and re-filling the position. Meanwhile, customers flee and profits dwindle.

Hire Image has a network of resources, and a systematic process for verification and contacting and interviewing references with our team of skilled employment professionals. We verify through proper channels that all information provided by the candidate is accurate and truthful, and that the reference they designated is legitimate.

MYTH #2:
References Won’t Tell Us Anything Useful
REALITY #2:
You Need to Get the Right Answers
You do need to know if the prospective employee was actually employed in the specified position, at the stated salary, and for the dates claimed. You also need to know under what conditions the candidate left and ascertain that there are no contractual stipulations that would affect their ability to perform at your company. Most references will provide these answers.

Hire Image is experienced at handling all of your verification needs, especially when a reference is not willing to volunteer information. Asking the right questions can often elicit helpful information. Did the reference truly work with the applicant, or is he family or a friend? According to HR.BLR.com, one applicant actually included her dog as a reference!

MYTH #3:
People Wouldn’t Risk Lying
REALITY #3:
Applicants Do Embellish and The Risk is Yours
High unemployment and fierce competition are among the motivations for people to fabricate skills and credentials. Some lie to hide criminal activities. Chicago University economics professor and coauthor of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt, cites research suggesting that more than 50% of job applicants lie on their resumes. Other sources indicate that at least 30% of all job applications contain lies.

Imagine the repercussions if you hired a bookkeeper claiming to be a CPA who really wasn’t. How long would it be and how many mistakes would be made before the ruse was discovered? The damages, resulting stress, bad publicity and cost of legal liability could close the doors on your business for good.

MYTH # 4:
Does Education Verification Really Matter?
REALITY #4:
An Employee’s False Credentials Could Get You Sued
The National Credit Verification Service reports that 25% of the MBA degrees it examines on resumes are false. People often claim they have a high school diploma, undergraduate or even graduate degree that they did not get, or claim degrees from bogus institutions.

You could be at risk of litigation for “negligent hiring” if your employee is one of them. Hire Image can make sure they attended an accredited school and were awarded the degree in the field specified. We contact educational institutions and student record clearing houses and confirm accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education and other accrediting organizations to verify educational credentials. We check with state boards and licensing agencies and organizations to ensure any professional license claimed by the applicant is current and in good standing.

MYTH #5:
Verification Checks Can Be Done Informally
REALITY #5:
Following Correct Procedures Protects Your Organization
It is vital to keep proper records and to stay within legal guidelines when researching employee backgrounds. You could be sued for negligent hiring or for discrimination if you cannot document your process.

We keep meticulous notes of all phone calls and file all letters and records, as well as notes of any unsuccessful efforts to contact references or information – and we encourage our clients to do the same. This documentation should be retained for at least one year whether or not the individual is hired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers reference check documents as legal records of hiring decisions.

The bottom line is, your bottom line will benefit from a thorough background screening of all potential employees.

Top 10 Background Screening Predictions for 2015

Criminals found in the workplace, sweeping changes in legislation regarding medical marijuana, high-profile cases of resume fraud, and increased number of class action lawsuits against businesses for non-compliance with employment laws — it’s no wonder so many employers realized the importance of professional background screening in 2014.  (more…)

Resume Fraud: Detecting White Lies

While employers and human resource professionals may like to believe that all job candidates are honest about their past experience and education, this is unfortunately not the case. Resume fraud is becoming more prevalent in today’s marketplace, and it is important for employers to know if they are truly hiring who they think they’re hiring.

Applicants embellish their credentials on resumes and job applications for various reasons. In a competitive job market, individuals seek to set themselves apart from their opponents. High rates of unemployment make people desperate to stand out, and many feel one of the only ways to do this is to lie about their qualifications on their resumes. A 2012 study completed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that some key reasons job seekers lie on resumes include envy of others succeeding, a lack of confidence in their job search ability, and a history of past deviant behavior. Job hunters are no longer simply exaggerating their work history and education credentials, they are completely making things up. Verifying both past work experience and education is a crucial step for employers when selecting an applicant to work for their company.

Top Ten Resume Lies
1. Stretching dates of employment
2. Inflating past accomplishments and skills
3. Enhancing titles and responsibilities
4. Enhancing education and fabricating degrees
5. Unexplained gaps and periods of “self employment”
6. Omitting past employment
7. Faking credentials
8. Falsifying reasons for leaving prior employment
9. Providing fraudulent references
10. Misrepresenting military record
Source: Marquet International consulting firm

The importance of verifying resumes is evident in the case of Matthew Martoma, a former SAC Capital Advisers employee. In early February, Martoma was convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud, and insider trading. Events like this do happen and it can be hard to predict these occurrences. However, court transcripts show that Martoma was expelled from Harvard Law School after forging a transcript to submit for a clerkship. Uncovering this type of information could have made his former employer think twice before hiring him, which could have prevented the damages the company experienced. Hiring individuals who lie on their resume puts employers at extreme risk, and is something that can be avoided by performing background checks and verifications.

Another trend closely related to lying on a resume is the issue of diploma mills. Diploma mills are unaccredited schools that offer degrees for little or no work, and provide little, if any education. While there are thousands of fake schools in the diploma mill industry, most of them fall into one of two categories: a) those that openly sell degrees for cash, and customers know that they are paying for a fake degree; and b) those that pretend to be real schools and students “graduate” thinking that they have earned an actual degree. Either way, hiring applicants that have obtained a degree from a diploma mill is another risky move for employers. People who claim to have degrees but never did any work to earn them are probably not prepared to take on the duties necessary for the job and do not have the proper foundation to build upon. Recently, a school administrator in Providence, RI was found to have knowingly obtained a degree from a diploma mill. The team of journalists investigating this story was able to purchase a Ph.D. over the phone in as little as ten minutes. Hiring an individual who simply ordered a degree has many repercussions for employers. Verifying education is crucial for employers when hiring a new employee.

It is also important to verify professional licenses that people claim to have. For example, suppose someone claimed to have a professional license in dentistry on their resume, yet they only made it through one year of dentistry school and never actually received that license. If that person were hired as a dentist without having their license verified and an incident occurred during a procedure with a patient, the office would be in serious trouble. By verifying professional licenses, companies avoid damaging lawsuits that could have serious negative effects on their business.

Performing thorough background checks and verifications is the most effective way to uncover false truths on a resume. Reputable background screening companies such as Hire Image train their staff to be extremely thorough in the verification process and recognize diploma mills. Performing this highly valuable procedure could prevent your company from experiencing the unfortunate – and costly – repercussions of fraudulence.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

People were faking details on their resumes long before our economy took a nosedive, but the last few years have seen a rise in resume embellishment and outright lies. Tough competition among candidates as a result of high unemployment has caused more people to lie about their credentials. As a result, unscrupulous entities have sprouted across the Internet, posing as institutes of higher education.

These so-called college and university websites can appear legitimate and may even have a “.edu” extension, making it easy to fool employers.  However, they are in the business of selling fake diplomas and degrees, often awarded for nothing more than “life experience” and the right price. Many of the websites are fairly impressive, yet reading the fine print reveals what they offer is paper for sale.  These are known as “diploma mills,” and they profit by helping corroborate resume fraud.

The Internet has also made it convenient to provide fake employment information on a resume. There are websites that will help a person fill in employment gaps with false information, for a fee.  They may provide letters of reference, and even go so far as to offer a fee-based service to candidates, with telephone numbers and “personnel” of fake companies (or using the name of real companies) standing by to verify employment and provide references over the phone.

Resume fraud is a growing issue that all employers should be aware of. CNN.com reported (January 12, 2010) that George Gollin, a board member of the U.S.-based Council for Higher Education Accreditation, estimates more than 100,000 fake degrees are sold each year in the U.S. alone. A shocking number, to say the least.

Resume fraud can be detected with the use of a professional screening service such as what Hire Image provides. Our staff is trained to vet the false companies and information, and to take the necessary precautions to prevent you from becoming a victim of resume fraud.  If you’re unsure of something you see on a resume that looks too good to be true, go with your gut and contact us.

5 Myths About Verifications and References

September 24, 2013

There are many beliefs about background screening that make conducting one seem costly or time-consuming. However, what many business people don’t know is that these beliefs oftentimes are myths brought to light based on misconceptions. In truth, background screenings and verifications are a necessary investment that every company should make to protect itself from liability.
Here are five of the most common myths that people have about performing verifications and checking references:

MYTH #1
Verifying is Time Consuming or Expensive

REALITY #1
Proper Verification Saves Time and Money in the Long Run

The cost of a bad hire, whether fraudulent or just a bad fit, is quite high. You will have spent money on training and compensation. Mistakes, missed deadlines, alienated customers, theft, damaged equipment, and trouble with other employees can be costly and lawsuits are a possibility. Solving these problems can use up valuable time. Then there are the costs associated with terminating employment, re-advertising and re-filling the position. Meanwhile, customers flee and profits dwindle.

Hire Image has a network of resources, and a systematic process for verification and contacting and interviewing references with our team of skilled employment professionals. We verify through proper channels that all information provided by the candidate is accurate and truthful, and that the reference they designated is legitimate.

MYTH #2:
References Won’t Tell Us Anything Useful

REALITY #2:
You Need to Get the Right Answers

You do need to know if the prospective employee was actually employed in the specified position, at the stated salary, and for the dates claimed. You also need to know under what conditions the candidate left and ascertain that there are no contractual stipulations that would affect their ability to perform at your company. Most references will provide these answers.

Hire Image is experienced at handling all of your verification needs, especially when a reference is not willing to volunteer information. Asking the right questions can often elicit helpful information. Did the reference truly work with the applicant, or is he family or a friend? According to HR.BLR.com, one applicant actually included her dog as a reference!

MYTH #3:
People Wouldn’t Risk Lying

REALITY #3:
Applicants Do Embellish and The Risk is Yours

High unemployment and fierce competition are among the motivations for people to fabricate skills and credentials. Some lie to hide criminal activities. Chicago University economics professor and coauthor of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt, cites research suggesting that more than 50% of job applicants lie on their resumes. Other sources indicate that at least 30% of all job applications contain lies.

Imagine the repercussions if you hired a bookkeeper claiming to be a CPA who really wasn’t. How long would it be and how many mistakes would be made before the ruse was discovered? The damages, resulting stress, bad publicity and cost of legal liability could close the doors on your business for good.

MYTH # 4:
Does Education Verification Really Matter?

REALITY #4:
An Employee’s False Credentials Could Get You Sued

The National Credit Verification Service reports that 25% of the MBA degrees it examines on resumes are false. People often claim they have a high school diploma, undergraduate or even graduate degree that they did not get, or claim degrees from bogus institutions.

You could be at risk of litigation for “negligent hiring” if your employee is one of them. Hire Image can make sure they attended an accredited school and were awarded the degree in the field specified. We contact educational institutions and student record clearing houses and confirm accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education and other accrediting organizations to verify educational credentials. We check with state boards and licensing agencies and organizations to ensure any professional license claimed by the applicant is current and in good standing.

MYTH #5:
Verification Checks Can Be Done Informally

REALITY #5:
Following Correct Procedures Protects Your Organization

It is vital to keep proper records and to stay within legal guidelines when researching employee backgrounds. You could be sued for negligent hiring or for discrimination if you cannot document your process.

We keep meticulous notes of all phone calls and file all letters and records, as well as notes of any unsuccessful efforts to contact references or information – and we encourage our clients to do the same. This documentation should be retained for at least one year whether or not the individual is hired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers reference check documents as legal records of hiring decisions.

The bottom line is, your bottom line will benefit from a thorough background screening of all potential employees.

CEO Verifications and Hiring: Don’t Let Your Board Be Held Liable….or Embarrassed

By Christine M. Cunneen, CEO
Hire Image LLC

July 5, 2012

With the recent scandal in the news involving Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s incorrect academic degree, the issue of board liability comes to mind. Is the Yahoo board responsible for the alleged ‘falsified resume’ of Mr. Thompson? Who is to blame? What could the board have done to prevent this from happening in the first place?

To recap: Mr. Thompson claimed to have received a degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. This should have been the first ‘red flag’ because the college didn’t offer a computer science program at the time. Because Yahoo is a publicly held company, activist investors and shareholders were then demanding an investigation of wrongdoing and possible mismanagement by the board over this issue, and wanted the board to accept responsibility for this ‘debacle.’

In fact, this is exactly the type of ‘battle’ that some investors may seek. Shaking up a board and distracting it from its operational focus can be just what an investor needs to win board seats in a proxy fight or bring forced change in management by devaluing the stock price.

If a proper background screening had been conducted, this whole situation could’ve been avoided. A ‘proper’ background screening should cost a mere pittance compared to the costly legal bills Yahoo is facing, not to mention the PR damage now done to its reputation and credibility, or the blow to its stock price affecting shareholders.

A screening isn’t something that can be as simple as a Google search of the party in question. It should include further steps such as verifying employment and academic credentials, as well as a criminal check at multiple court levels. This type of screening should be left into the capable hands of a third party, background screening professional.

What should a board do to protect itself from liability and embarrassment when a CEO’s (or anyone’s) qualifications are brought into question? Here are four things you should keep in mind:

1.  Conduct background checks on all applicants. It should be a matter of course or policy for all boards of directors – whether for nonprofit, academic, institutional, or for-profit organizations – to conduct such screenings of all applicants for any level job position.

2.  Perform education and employment verifications. A simple call to Stonehill College to verify Mr. Thompson’s academic credentials would have revealed an error in his resume (intentional or not), before he became CEO. Not after the fact, when shareholder and legal issues arise and have to be dealt with.

3.  Review screening reports at board meetings. Don’t take management’s word for it. Boards should verify that proper background screenings are being conducted. It’s the directors that will be held liable or accountable for misconduct or that will have to answer to alleged ethical breaches – not your organization’s staff. Be sure that you have reviewed the reports with your own eyes.

4.  Use a professional background screening agency. Working with a professional agency will help your organization to be in compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, Fair Credit Reporting Act regulations, and other rules that can help limit your liability exposure.

At Hire Image, we work with employment attorneys and law enforcement officials on a regular basis, and our screenings include not only the ‘usual’ database searches, but access to other sources, including ‘in the field’ investigative services. We are a nationwide company, and this is all we do.

An ounce of prevention can go a long way in avoiding trouble at your organization and costly lawsuits. Don’t skimp when it comes to background screenings – and don’t assume that they aren’t needed at the C-suite level. It could be the most costly mistake you could make.