Did you earn or buy that degree?

Did you earn or buy that degree?

An ever growing problem for those recruiting, is knowing if certificates candidates present, are real, or fake.

With the global recession it has been widely reported that the number of new job opportunities has declined, whilst the number of people looking for work seems ever increasing. The impact of this means there is currently more demand per role than ever before.

Pressure is therefore placed on candidates to stand out from the crowd, so even the most honest of applicants may decide to enhance their CV by supporting this criminal trend. Fraudulent ‘academic institutions’ have been known to sell degrees which are simply a certificate as a result of a financial transaction only and thus representative of no actual formal training process. As fraudulent as this appears, passing off a simply bought qualification as a tangible representation for an actually studied for one, it is hard for law enforcement officials to stop it. The company behind the certificates sold is not in itself, or it’s company name, pretending to be another institution, so there is no copyright infringement to that aspect of their ‘trade’. As an employer recruiting you may try calling up the ‘institution’ to find out if it exists, thinking that could verify the qualification. The ‘institution’ could well dutifully answer the phone to confirm it does indeed exist as an organisation. This too, is not illegal. This does not however guarantee at all that the candidate has studied for the qualification, it could still have come from a simple vendor only organisation and as such be as worthless as the paper it is printed on in terms of the skills set you, as a recruiter, seek to hire.

As an underground process, it is unregulated and fraught with the usual dangers of dealing with less than reprehensible traders. Some job seekers may pay and not even receive their fake certificate. Certain websites have even set up shopping comparison experience forums, calling themselves a sort of unofficial watchdog, to advise  potential shoppers who are the most and least trustworthy of the available certificate purveyors.

Clearly these organisations seek to mislead employers and with the rising competition for available positions business seems to be booming for them. However they are on the fringe of the law. What these organisations are doing is clearly wrong and is only vaguely legal as their activities don’t yet have enough legislation against their operation to effectively police it. Thus outlawing this activity is only a matter of time. With cross boarder communications via the internet too, this type of e-tailer is even harder for the authorities to stop.

The cost of the wrong hire isn’t just potentially a fine for an illegal worker, or the costs of advertising twice over to hire. It’s the human resources involved in interviewing and training. It could also be potentially the damage limitation involved in the wrong person coming into contact with personal information.

So as someone looking to hire, or place a candidate with a client, how can you safeguard against fake qualifications? The resultant fact for the organisation seeking to hire is it is very difficult to know which qualifications are real and which aren’t.  Post hire it could be several months before the candidate shows the tell-tale signs of knowledge gaps. One software solution can verify qualifications against leading UK academic institutions and automate academic referencing. To find out more about it, visit www.safescreening.co.uk.

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