Fake Qualifications & References

In Sept 2017, it was announced by the Premier and Cabinet’s Department in South Australia that two of their senior managers had knowingly falsified applications and submitted fraudulent academic qualifications.  In both cases, the candidate’s qualification(s) were held on record, but the qualification was never checked with the issuing educational Board. A very difficult and embarrassing situation for all those involved.

As a result, the Department was found negligent and has now  revisited many of their internal policies. But what lessons have been learned by industry as a whole? How complacent are we being when hiring staff? We surveyed 100 companies throughout NSW & VIC and asked: “What pre-check formalities do Australian companies have in place for reference checking and qualifications checking?”

Here’s a snap shot of the survey results which might just raise a few eyebrows:

Question 1: We asked, just how important is reference checking in the recruitment process?

All respondents considered reference checking an essential component of the recruitment process and would not hire unless some form of suitable references were in place. The surveys determined whilst some employers preferred to take up their own references, more than 68% were not opposed to relying on a third-party such as an Recruitment Agency following up references. Interesting, 35% of responders were happy to simply retain copies of written references supplied by the candidate as opposed to personally contacting the referee(s) direct.

A number of respondents mentioned it wasn’t always possible to rely on a reference check, such as in cases where a reference check verged on negative, due to circumstances such as the current employer not wanting to lose the candidate in question. This was taken into account when evaluating.

Question 2: We asked, do you validate a candidate’s academic and/or professional qualifications?

The results from this question were possibly the most unanticipated.

All those surveyed would take a physical record (i.e. scan or hard copy) of essential qualifications and certificates where qualifications were required for compliance purposes. Lessor qualifications such as school certifications, diploma’s and even degrees etc resulted in 62% recording the need to retain copies of the qualification.

However, only 32% of respondents validated a candidate’s professional qualifications by cross-referencing with the issuing Educational Board. This was perhaps the biggest surprise given any breach by an employee could result in an employer being held liable for any liability made whilst an employee represents the company.

An online example of an advertisement currently being run
The certifications often look very professional, tricking many an HR and Recruitment expert

 

The Risk to Business is Still Very Real:

Recruitment is a complex process and very time consuming, and despite the best intentions, it’s also very easy to miss standard processes and procedures. The majority of employers seem to agree that, at the very least, a professional reference is required. However, the level and depth required for professionally checking a candidate’s qualifications, and how much emphasis should be based on reference checking, is a grey area.

However, it’s also just as important that each role is risk-assessed to understand the implications an organisation may have in the worst possible scenario i.e. where a company has failed to organise checks and an employee is in breach.

So where do you stand? We’d love to hear back from you.