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April 19, 2010
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Pre-employment screening - background checks are vital

Our CEO Eyal Ben Cohen recently wrote an article on Pre-employment screening.  Of all the pre-employment screening categories, previous employment poses the biggest problem for employers. This is because employment checks need to cover length of service, job title, company details, salary, and reasons for leaving.

Pre-employment screening: 1. 'Stretched' employment dates often hide unemployment

Candidates who seriously mislead prospective employers might, for example, seek to reduce or remove altogether long periods of unemployment or imprisonment by 'stretching' dates of employment on their CV, sometimes by years. As well as raising issues regarding what were they really doing during the period in question, this also casts doubt on the candidate's honesty and integrity.

Other applicants will claim to be working for companies that no longer exist, and will offer a reference from an employer that pre-dates the closed of that business. I have also come across others who create web sites for phoney companies, and who will wait at the end of the line for a verification call.

Pre-employment screening: 2. Reasons for leaving may hide the truth

Another area employers increasingly need to scrutinize is reasons for leaving, mainly because of a rise in redundancy levels. No one is proud of being made redundant, let alone being dismissed, and this is why so many applicants will try to hide the real reasons they left their previous employer. It's one thing not to state on a CV reasons for leaving a post, but quite another to lie about this when asked. Even dismissal in itself is not always necessarily detrimental to a candidate's chances, but when one lies about it, it certainly raises questions about their character.

And when it comes to stating current income, employees are increasingly taking advantage of the fact employers now provide less and less information on standard references. In fact, most will supply only dates of employment and job title. Therefore, employees allow themselves to inflate their salaries, thinking they will be able to get away with such lies.

Pre-employment screening: 3. Job titles can be a tricky area

As for job titles, candidates play faster and looser with these than any other aspect of a CV, But employers need also be aware that this is also a complicated area from a human resources perspective, and one where genuine mistakes are often made. Because of this, HR data systems may occasionally contain incorrect job titles, and such errors can only be discovered with a cross-check.

Plus, remember that in times of recession and unemployment job candidates face greater temptation to bend the truth to create more impressive CVs, and employee screening will safeguard employers against hiring a person who is not what they seem.


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April 7, 2010
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screening of Chinese nationals simplified

China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Centre (CDGDC) today announced the signing of an exclusive contract with Verifile Limited, Europe 's leading pre-employment screening company to provide a more streamlined system to verify Chinese academic and vocational qualifications.  Up to now employers and educational institutions have struggled with validating qualifications gained in China.

Around 80,000 Chinese students study in the UK annually, and nearly 100 Chinese educated doctors are practicing in the UK. As the Chinese economy cools more highly qualified Chinese nationals are likely to seek work or further study here.  The difficulties of verifying qualifications issued from a country with a different
educational system and written characters, or sinographs, has been compounded by the rapid expansion in the Chinese higher education system - 5 times more students graduated in 2006 than in 1999 4 . This has increased difficulties in distinguishing between genuine qualifications issued from officially recognised Chinese educational institutions from those issued by a  "Diploma mill" - companies, often based online, which sell bogus qualifications without study.

The exclusive contract with CDGDC will see Verifile as their sole partner in the UK for pre-employment  screening. From today organisations that employ individuals with qualifications gained in China and educational institutions with prospective students with qualifications gained in China can visit one central online portal to verify any degree or transcript from a Chinese institution, including high schools, universities and vocational
programmes. A formal verification report would be issued within 20 working days and would cover any recognised institution in China, making the process more efficient for businesses and educational institutions within the UK, and for individuals with Chinese qualifications.

Qualifications covered by this new service from Verifile and CDGDC include:

  •  Higher Education
  • Vocational Education
  • High School Education
Director of Verification Department at CDGDC Li Ping comments, "Through the partnership between CDGDC and Verifile we hope to streamline the movement of people between our two countries." Our CEO Eyal Ben Cohen stated "We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with the CDGDC. Our proven robust internet based verification system coupled with our knowledge of Chinese authorisation and legal compliance procedures will ensure employers, universities and government organisations in the UK and Europe have an easy and accessible way to verify Chinese qualifications".  UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the China Britain Business Council (CBBC) provided important assistance in facilitating negotiations with CDGDC in China. Martin Keepfer, Senior International Trade Adviser with UKTI states "Verifile is a client going
from strength to strength with its international growth plans. We at UKTI have been proud to assist, not only here in the UK 'on the ground ' but also, working with our partner CBBC and our network of Embassies and Consulates globally, to develop exciting new business opportunities and 'open doors ' to new international markets
Each verification report for a Chinese qualification will cost ?45 and will take up to 20 working days. The service is available to both organisations and individuals.  Organisations can apply to verify a Chinese qualification on behalf of their applicants.  Individuals with a Chinese qualification can also apply to have their qualification verified or can nominate an agent to do this on their behalf."

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April 6, 2010
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Why is international screening so important now?

International background screening is rising in prominence and is becoming ever more critical to businesses as borders open up and the battle to hire the best talent intensifies. This blog provides an overview of international background screening and an insight into the importance of conducting thorough international employee checks correctly and legally.

So picture this scenario, Mark has been appointed to a new senior role and his employer wants to check his background. He has had an international education and career path which has enabled him to work abroad. He studied in Switzerland and Germany and enjoyed a successful career in Australia, Malaysia and the UK before moving to the US. This will not be a completely unusual scenario to many readers. But how can we effectively check Mark 's credentials to ensure he has been honest and truthful in his application for the role? Evidently we are going to have to screen Mark in each of those countries mentioned, but how should we do this? Many screening companies are experts on the rules and regulations of their own countries, but many do not know to what extent regulations or background checks differ abroad.

Before starting any checks we need to have a clear understanding of the local laws and cultures in each country. For example, in the US criminal records are obtained from county and Federal courts, but it is impractical to conduct a national check by going to every court in the US. But this does not mean that the rest of the world uses the same process. On the other hand in the UK, national checks are possible through official government bodies set up for this purpose, and indeed by law it is illegal to obtain criminal records in any other way, for example by trying to copy the US approach by going to a local court.

When faced with an international check, there are five key areas to consider:

  • Consent and Release of Information - This is not as straightforward as would seem at first sight. Consent forms need to have a dual purpose. They need to show how information will be treated and who will have access to it. For example it is illegal under European Data Protection laws to send personal information outside EU borders unless certain criteria have been met (e.g. if the recipient of the information is in the US, they would need to be Safe Harbor certified). Another situation could arise where consent is needed to allow third parties other than the company ordering the checks or the screening provider to review the results of a background check. For example, if an employment agency orders the checks but then wishes to share the results with the actual employers.
  • Criminal Records - Each country has its own system for collecting and releasing criminal records data. For many, carrying out a national search is perfectly feasible. However, it 's important to take local regulations into consideration. In Malaysia criminal data is only accessible for specific positions such as security. Yet in Australia and the UK, basic information can be released for any role, and for those working in specific positions such as the financial or health sectors, even more details can be accessed. In Germany though criminal records can only be released to the candidate, and third parties are not allowed to request the Certificate of Good Conduct on behalf of the candidate.
  • Credit Checks -Rules on the release of consumer credit information also differ from country to country. In the US, obtaining credit information through a credit bureau is normal, legal and widely understood (even some states like Oregon are now banning its use for employment screening). Yet in countries such as Italy or Malaysia, credit information is not available for pre-employment screening purposes even though credit bureaus do operate there. In the UK, South Africa and Australia, credit bureaus will only provide for pre-employment screening purposes basic information on court judgments and bankruptcies. Credit information is therefore restricted in those countries to lenders and similar organizations. In fact, guidelines published by the Information Commissioner in the UK prohibit companies that have access to consumer credit information due to their business from using it for recruitment purposes. In many other countries there are no credit bureaus at all to provide any type of financial information on consumers.
  • Employment Verification / Employment References - The US approach to employment verification is to carry out a verbally conducted check or to use online services (such as The Work Number) to obtain employment information. This is quite often very different to the rest of the world. In Europe, written requests for employment references are preferred. Many employers will actually refuse to discuss these matters over the phone and ask instead to receive a written response. In other European countries such as France and Germany employers provide confirmation letters to all leavers and therefore do not have to deal with requests for verifications or references.
  • Education - The National Clearing House provides the US with the ability to check the majority of academic degrees. A similar system is available in South Africa. By contrast in Australia institutions tend to include graduate information on their university websites. Elsewhere, for many universities, a written request is the most effective way to conduct a check and to source additional revenue too. In India and China, a copy of the degree certificate is essential to help confirm it is legitimate. In many African countries due to the lack of infrastructure, such as electricity and Telecommunications, one has to visit the university in person in order to get confirmation of the degree.There are thousands of diploma mills around the world that do not have the legal right to award academic degrees. Therefore it is important that the recognition status of the institution is also checked. A degree or diploma mill is an institution that offers substandard or fraudulent degrees in exchange for payment and very little else. Verifying that a candidate graduated from a diploma mill means as much as checking that the candidate paid for their certificate but are not necessary qualified as such. Supporting the global workforce.As you can see, screening internationally has a number of challenges. Not only are there different procedures and policies in each country, there are language barriers too. It is easy to see how this can become a time intensive and lengthy process. But as we continue to develop as a global workplace, it is critical to understand cultures and laws in other countries so that we continue to be effective and earn respect for the comprehensive service we provide today 's organisations.

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