According to Matthew Glasner, managing director, South Asia-Pacific at First Advantage, employers in more developed markets such as Australia are more likely to find that a candidate has lied that their colleagues in emerging markets.
“What we see in the more mature markets is a higher instance of discrepancies, where candidates have withheld information or provided something other than the truth when applying for jobs,” he told HC
. “The biggest driver behind this is that there are generally more elements involved in the process than there are in emerging markets.”
For example, Australian employers are more inclined to delve into various aspects of a candidate’s history, whereas employers in emerging markets may only look into one – if they screen backgrounds at all.
“The deeper you look, the more likely you are to find discrepancies,” Glasner continued. “If you conduct six or more checks, you’re nine times more likely to find an inconsistency with what you’ve been presented with on paper.”
Australia is among the developed markets wherein there are more checks conducted per case – other regions that fall into this category include Singapore and Hong Kong.
“This is really counterintuitive,” Glasner said. “In emerging markets, the risks are higher.”
So although candidates applying for positions in mature markets are more likely to be flagged up for discrepancies, this is due to the fact that employers are more vigilant in looking into the credibility of their histories. In Australia in particular, there is an ‘above normal’ discrepancy rate.
“Australian candidates are more likely to pad their CV,” said Glasner. “This ranges from shifting job titles, changing the dates of a position to cover gaps or saying they left of their own terms.”
He gave the example of Aussie retailer Myer’s former GM of strategy and business development, who infamously lied about his work history on his CV
“It goes to show that this can happen across all levels of your payroll.”
According to Glasner, the repercussions of failing to conduct appropriate background checks can be “quite significant” – particularly due to the increasing globalisation of the workforce.
In an extreme case, a man who was wanted for questioning in the UK in relation to child sex offences landed a job in a Beijing school
“The consequences can be everything from reputational risk to serious implications,” said Glasner. “It’s a challenge that’s created by the globalisation of business – and it’s important to remember that there are a lot of international workers coming into Australia.”
“Understanding people’s background internationally is a real challenge,” he added.
Competition a culprit
According to Glasner, the need to conduct background checks is no longer limited to a select few industries.
“Background screening is most prevalent in financial services, but now we’re seeing it become increasingly common across the board,” Glasner told HC
. “In industries which are extremely competitive, candidates are more likely to embellish their CVs just to get through the door.”
He added that many candidates attempt to get around the screening process by altering the information they provide.
“If they know they’re being screened, the dates they give us might vary from the dates they gave to the hiring manager,” he said. “So one of most popular checks now is CV comparison.”
CV comparisons look into the details given to the employer against the information given to the company running the checks.
“It comes down to integrity,” Glasner said. “Most employers would agree that anyone who is willing to lie on their CV doesn’t have values that align with their company’s. Unfortunately, the competitive nature of the employment market is what’s driving this behaviour.”
He pointed out that in Australia, candidates for roles in the mining and energy industries – one of the most competitive sectors in the country – have the highest discrepancy rates.
Another method that is growing in popularity is ‘infinity screening’, which provides employers with updates on their workers’ circumstances on an ongoing, periodic basis.
“We find a lot of situational changes, such as employees’ financial situations,” Glasner told HC
But in the case of flagging up hidden attributes, it’s worth screening employees from the beginning of the onboarding process.
“If you’re concerned about the integrity of employees then it’s worth doing more checks upfront,” Glasner advised.
And it isn’t only permanent, full time employees who are being regulated.
“Employers are also starting to run more checks on third party employees, such as contractors,” Glasner said.
Ultimately, employers across Australia are increasingly recognising the value of background screening – and the potential consequences of hiring a liar.
Australia is one of the most mature markets in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to background screening – but this doesn’t mean that Aussie employers are unlikely to discover that their potential new hires have lied to them.