Fake resumes not unique problem in Asia

Jobseekers who spout fake credentials exist in emerging and mature Asian markets, and the rush to grab skilled IT professionals can lead to failure to spot inflated resumes.

Jobseekers who tout inflated resumes is a problem that exists in both emerging and mature Asian markets, according to recruiters who suggest ways to spot fake credentials when hiring IT professionals.

Richard Farmer, director for professionals at recruitment agency Randstad, said competition for highly-skilled professionals in Asia can result in employers rushing through the hiring process and not giving it the appropriate due diligence.

He said this is not a new problem and is not limited to emerging or mature markets.

Farmer said: "Common areas where people exaggerate or list fake details include academic degrees, start and end dates of employment, previous employers and job titles."

According to Edwin Lim, managing consultant for IT&T at Hudson, providing fake credentials seemed more common in emerging markets and not in mature markets such as Singapore. But while the act is not prevalent in Singapore, he noted there still are fake resumes in the market.

Train Luo, managing partner of CTPartners China, said even high-level executives in Asia had been caught giving fake credentials. For example, Tang Jun, current CEO of Xin Hua Du Industrial Group and former president of Microsoft China, was publicly criticized for lying about his education and work experience, noted Luo.

A Times of India report published earlier this month revealed one in five resumes in the country's IT industry were deemed "suspect". An executive told the newspaper: "Honestly, most IT firms don't care; they just terminate these employees and forget about it. Unless employees, who fake their credentials, are taken to the police, this issue will never come to an end."

Battling fake credentials
Farmer said hiring candidates who lie in their resumes inevitably creates a "big problem" for IT companies. "It's not until the candidate is in the role that it becomes clear his or her skills do not match [those stated in] the resume," he said.

Kathryn Yap, managing partner of CTPartners Singapore, said employees who are dishonest in their resumes can also damage the reputation of a brand. She pointed to how former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson's inflated resume--which were "small but important details"--can severely damage the image of a company, the CEO, as well as the board.

Lim noted that large multinational corporations such as IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, SAP, Oracle and other companies conduct detailed background and reference checks, and request supporting documents such as education certifications and identity documents before delivering the letter of offer to their chosen candidates.

The Hudson consultant said some IT companies also employ third-party vendors to conduct detailed background checks to look into the candidate's credit status, criminal records and employment tenure with companies stated in the resumes.

Farmer said: "Evaluating candidates' resumes is an important part of the recruitment process and this is where a recruitment company plays an important role in checking employment history and qualifications."

He said there are several ways for recruiters to validate the credibility of a candidate's resume. Performing a background check is a good starting point, he recommended.

"We always speak to referees or people at the candidate's previous workplaces to cross-reference salary, dates of employment, reporting lines and work undertaken," he said.

Randstad also checks for red flags such as unexplained gaps in employment or reluctance from the jobseeker to give reasons for leaving a role, Farmer said. "With the increase of social media networking sites, it is also easy to conduct online research to verify details," he added.

Luo cautioned jobseekers against inflating their resumes.

"Today, social networks such as LinkedIn or Weibo have increased transparency and provide additional sources for background checks. The penalty of resume inflation, particularly on one's education, is just too high to be worth engaging in," he said.

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