THE MAGAZINE

Screening in Southeast Asia-Pacific

By Robert Elliott

Information given in résumés is false about 20 percent of the time in the Asia-Pacific job market.

Discrepancies in job candidates’ résumés and the truth about them were detected by background checks three times more often in the Asia-Pacific region than in countries like the United States. The problem: Job applicants in other countries have learned that they can boost their pay by falsifying their credentials.

“There’s a real propensity for individuals to want to falsify information because of the economic benefit they are receiving,” Bart Valdez, president of First Advantage Employer Services, told Security Management after a presentation at the recent ASIS International conference in Singapore. In the United States there is a 5 to 7 percent discrepancy rate on applicant information, whereas in the Asia-Pacific region, the number shoots up to about 20 percent, said Valdez. The percentages are even higher in China and India.

Valdez singled out IT professionals as an example of a group of job seekers who can bump up their remuneration significantly by claiming to possess more certifications.

Overall, about 30 percent of the negative reports in Asia center on candidates lying about their educational credentials, Valdez said. First Advantage has created a database used by universities in the region.

In the United States, applicants tend to exaggerate their responsibilities with a former employer or to lie about their reasons for leaving the employer.

A recent live poll conducted by HireRight, a screening provider with operations in more than 200 countries and territories, found that 30 percent of large employers are in the midst of installing a global background screening program.

HireRight indicated that more than 80 percent of large U.S. companies already have some type of background check process in place domestically.

First Advantage gave some illustrations of the risks of hiring dishonest employees, including the call-center workers in India, who in April 2005 talked four customers of a leading bank into revealing their personal identification numbers. The workers transferred $500,000 dollars into their private accounts before the police arrested six of them and 11 outside accomplices. “The company has yet to erase the concern that the problem won’t be repeated in India or overseas,” First Advantage said.

A challenge confronting background screeners in the Asia-Pacific region are country-specific regulations. In Hong Kong and Singapore, third-party criminal record checks are not available from the police or the courts, even with proper authorization. Certificates verifying a person has not been targeted for a criminal conviction are issued to individuals for visa/emigration purposes only. “Criminal records are challenging to find in Asia,” said Valdez.

Local privacy legislation varies from country to country. “Some have none at all, like Vietnam,” said Valdez. The availability of information also varies, and there is no standard requirement for the release of data that covers the region.

Echoing the findings of HireRight, First Advantage indicated that background screening is gaining ground in the Asia-pacific region among American multinationals, as well as with locally based companies. The practice is expanding from traditional sectors including IT, insurance, and investment banking to manufacturing, retail, petrochemicals, aviation, and oil and gas, First Advantage said.

“As companies push for more background information, the expectation is that many of the restrictive rules will relax (in the Asia-Pacific region) and countries will attempt to digitize records,” First Advantage said.

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