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Fake CV menace raises ugly head in job-rich IT sector

Written by: Staff

Bangalore, May 7: The unbridled growth of the IT sector in the country has triggered massive employment opportunities for engineers and under graduates, but on the flip side it has brought to the fore fake and ''dressed up'' Curriculum Vitaes of potential candidates, calling for sustained efforts to curb the menace.

Fake CVs and bogus degree certificates rule the roost and prospective candidates with gloated experience and skills cause headache to the Human Resource officials of companies, apart from impacting the performance of the firms once they were recruited.

Experts feel the menace was compounded by the rush with which firms were hiring professionals to meet their project deadlines.

Mindteck India Ltd Group Head (Human Resources) Philip K Mammen said ''everyone is hiring at neck break speed, which has compounded the problem. Somehow they want to get the person on board and get the work moving and start the billing.'' The need of the hour was immediate intervention by bodies such as NASSCOM and CII, industry professionals told UNI, stating that the situation might go out of control if strong measures were not taken. A concerted effort as was being carried out to check software piracy need to be put in place to curb this menace, they felt.

A cross section of IT industry leaders, HR and Skill Assessment companies, when contacted, said at least 15 to 20 per cent of the CVs received by various companies were fake.

The greatest challenge staring software services companies in the face was skill shortage. The country would face a dearth of 5,00,000 knowledge workers by 2010 -- 1,50,000 in the IT services sector and the rest in the BPO sector, according to the latest NASSCOM-Mckinsey survey. The report said the country would by then need 2.3 million professionals to meet the 60 billion dollar export revenue target.

But the present education system would be able to churn out only 7,00,000. Besides the 2.3 million, it would provide indirect employment to another 6.5 million workers. Currently, India had an IT manpower of 1.28 million.

Mr Madan Padaki, Co-Founder and Director, MeritTrac Services Pvt Ltd, India's largest skills assessment company, said ''the fake CV issue is very concerning, specially coming at a juncture when the market is on a boom. Industry estimates 10-12 per cent of the CVs submitted are fake.'' The boom in recruitment and the resultant rise in demand primarily for experienced people have brought back memories of year 2000 when malpractices troubled most recruiters.

Mr Sunil Nambiar, Head - Global Delivery, Marlabs India, one of the worst affected by the menace, said ''candidates find it easier to target companies that may not be that high profile, thinking they can get away. If the market gets more heated up, considering over 20 per cent rise in international demand, these kinds of practices will only occur more frequently.'' The discrepancies in the resumes range from overstating qualifications, salary and designation to presenting fake certificates and giving false references, he said, adding that to counter this, Marlabs India was using different tools like rigorous reference checks.

According to a senior executive of a placement company, who did not want to be identified, fake certificates, purportedly issued by a popular university, were in vogue some years ago and now such certificates from Orissa-based varsities were being circulated.

Mr Veerendra P Mathur, Founder-Director and CEO, Focus Infotech, one of India's leading IT HCM service provider, said ''the menace is more serious than the one the industry will face if reservation in private sector gets implemented. In the case of reservation, the corporate knows what they are getting into and it is a conscious decision.'' But, employees with fake CVs pose a threat to the organisation's capabilities and long term issues of values and ethics such candidates would bring to the firm.

Referring to the NASSCOM initiative of a 'technical repository', which would have details of all techies registering in this forum, Mr Mathur said though it might become a movement in the long run attracting professionals, it might not bring ''any major change with respect to misrepresentation of data''. The National Skills Registry of NASSCOM was a step towards ensuring that there was a verified database of the skill sets and talents of the human resources in the industry, which would enable them to shift within the industry with minimum paperwork and reference or verification checks. The employee would update such information, which would be verified and certified by a third party.

Mr Mathur said the most disheartening fact was that candidates with fake CVs were being exploited by a ''new breed of corrupt insiders cashing in on the opportunity and making a quick buck by allowing deficient, fraudulent CVs to reach their own payroll.'' Endorsing his views, Mr Padaki said ''to check this trend, it is imperative to have a neutral entity that will check frauds. The time taken to complete such checks can vary based on the parameters for consideration. It is essential that companies ensure that at least the basic check is done as it will save a lot of inconvenience.'' Mr Mathur said ''the recruitment business today is like the unorganised hardware market in the early 90s. Rules are very few and this is indeed causing a lot of the ''small-timers'' to flaw.

Whether it is lack of verification or a deliberate misstatement of facts, the end result is the same. This is why we are now seeing a consolidation happening. The larger IT and consulting companies are limiting their association to fewer Professional and HR Services organisations.'' He said ''like with every boom, this boom is also showing its colours of greed. The large pool of the unemployable community does not want to miss the bus, this time around. A portion of them are willing to do whatever it takes to get them to their dream destinations. This is further compounded by the desperation of the organisations to get their headcounts in place so that they are not forced to let go of existing businesses.'' He said setting more stringent processes and ensuring that there was less human discretion in recruitment was one way of minimising the problem. The menace had thrown up a great business potential for placement companies.

Leading recruitment solutions provider and one of India's largest e-recruitment portals Jobstreet.Com India Pvt Ltd Head (Marketing Services) Durai Raja said one of the basic solutions to this menacing problem was that corporates should do a thorough background check on recruitment agencies before assigning them. Employers asking for candidates with rich experience on emerging technologies and wanting a ''ready made'' person with all the requisite skills only added to the problem, he added.

Mr Mammen said that with skewed supply-demand position, there was pressure on the consultants to create resumes within a short span of time. Hence, little scrutiny was carried out. A thorough technical interview could easily spot a cooked up resume. Besides, most placement agencies do not have any process in place to verify the authenticity of resumes. ''A code of ethics and professional standards should be in place for all placement agencies, both big and small, to adopt.

TVA Infotech President Suhas Nerurkar said most firms were taking a serious note of the alarming problem and exchanging information to prevent it. Companies should at least share negative data on truant candidates. Some placement firms have been blacklisted for using unfair practices like helping candidates ''dress up'' their CV.

He said ''we have to understand that the process of hiring is about hiring the right candidate and not the best candidate. It is also important that a lot of frustration comes in for employees due to bad management in various companies and a lot of critical information on work is suppressed from candidates at the time of interview - and should employees then revert back and ask for a reverse assurance from companies for in effect presenting a fraudulent company CV?''


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