The Importance of Background Checks: Top Risks Faced in the Hiring Process

Hiring new employees is an essential part of operating, and growing, a successful business. It is also a process that presents an inherent risk to any organisation. Fraud and other criminal acts are often committed by company insiders, the very the people that are trusted to work for the business's best interests. While most employees might be honest and trustworthy, it only takes one to cause major unforeseen problems that can be hard to predict, and even more difficult to undo.

Companies that don’t perform pre-employment background checks, or conduct insufficient background checks, are at a particularly high level of risk. According to popular employment site CareerBuilder.com, “Fifty-eight percent of hiring managers said they’ve caught a lie on a resume; one-third (33 percent) of these employers have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.” Even more staggering, 50% of workers are aware of someone else having lied on their resume (BestLife, 2018). This shows an uptick in recent years, and should alarm any business owner or hiring manager/human resources professional as a wake-up call that there is a serious problem.

So what are the most common areas of resume fraud? The following is a rundown of the top 10 ways candidates might show deception in the hiring process:

  • Stretching dates of employment. Someone who can only stay at each job for a few months at a time is likely to be a concern for a prospective employer. For that reason, they might fudge their employment dates to make it look like they have longer ranges of employment in certain positions.

  • Inflating past accomplishments and skills. The candidate might claim major successes; for example: “implemented new CRM process company-wide” – when in reality, they only played a small role in this achievement.

  • Enhancing job titles and responsibilities. Perhaps they were a manager, but refer to themselves as a director. Or it might be something subtle, such as calling themselves “senior sales manager” when in fact they were an “assistant sales manager.”

  • Education exaggeration and fabricating degrees. Claiming a degree that was never earned is one of the most common fabrications, and several executives at large corporations have been exposed for this type of deception.

  • Unexplained gaps and periods of “self-employment.” A candidate who was simply unemployed (or worse … such as incarcerated, for example) might claim to have been running their own business to explain their employment gap(s) when in fact they were just not working.

  • Omitting past employment. A prospective employee might leave out previous jobs if they were terminated for cause, or don’t want that particular employer to be contacted for any other reason.

  • Faking credentials. Certifications, assessments, awards – all of these can be fabricated or fraudulently claimed by a candidate in an effort to make themselves look more qualified for a position than they actually are.

  • Fabricating reasons for leaving the previous job. Being terminated from a job, especially for a serious transgression, is not something most job candidates want to tell a prospective employer. For that reason, they might make up a different scenario, such as “I resigned to pursue better opportunities.”

  • Providing fraudulent references. A candidate provides an employment reference who gives a shining recommendation. However, the contact turns out to be a friend of the candidate. This type of deception can hide the true nature and work record of the candidate.

  • Hiding a criminal background. This is one of the most serious omissions. Depending on their history, your business and employees could be at risk from a bad actor who intentionally hides their criminal past.

There are several consequences that can occur from the above deceptions. Fraud and criminality are possible. Having employees in place who are underqualified to do the job they’ve been hired for is another. This can lead to safety risks and obvious harm to business on every level. That’s why smart business leaders take a proactive approach toward minimizing risk with thorough background checks and proper due diligence in the hiring process.