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International Employment Screening: Doing it Right

Posted On   date11/05/2014

International Employment Screening: Doing it Right

Employment and hiring good candidates has no borders anymore. Globalization has erased all geographical barriers to turn the world into an enormous workplace, where knowledge and personal capabilities are of greater importance than language barriers, visas or even salary rates.

For any company that wishes to be successful, hiring the right talent is a top priority. Considering today´s situation with fraud, corruption, bribery and scams, employers must hire professionals who can pass professional international pre-employment screening and comprehensive background checks.  It´s not necessarily a matter of verifying people who come from risky countries -although there are countries where corruption and fraud happen significantly more than in others- but it is a matter of business intelligence and legal compliance. Regardless of the location of the candidate, it is a good practice to run background checks and minimize risk.  Not doing so can be a very costly mistake and learning lesson.

A factor that is very important for human resources and recruitment departments is that screening globally can be very different from screening in the U.S. First of all, there can be a language barrier. The candidate may have great English skills, but his/hers previous employers, the people who work in the of you need to contact may not speak your language.  Laws and record keeping can be drastically different, so don’t assume a background check in New York is the same as in Tokyo, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur or Russia.  You’ll need a trained investigator in the country who speaks the language, has access to local records, and who can properly screen the case for fraud.  Professional investigators can discreetly verify a number of factors, which may include but not limited to employment and education history, criminal and court records, address and date of birth, passport and identification, bankruptcy, reference checks, and more.

International background checks can be more costly than the simple domestic cases, but they are critical to the success of your organization.  If you’re hiring or doing business abroad, the risk for fraud, scams and misrepresentation is much higher, and you need to mitigate that risk.

The availability of the information can be another challenge. Many countries do not have digital records, or they are outdated. Physical records are often checked directly at local courts or offices, and are the most reliable information you can get.  This means having reliable contacts in agencies and offices in the country, and an investigator who knows the procedures and methods to obtain the information.

These are some of the most important things to look for in an employment background check:

  1. Identity verification: Who is your candidate? Is the name and date of birth correct? Does this person have a valid ID number or a work permit (in case you are planning to bring him/her into the country)? Do his documents match the resume or CV provided?  Remember that identity theft is increasing and failing in this first verification may imply very serious consequences for your company.
  2. Criminal and court records: Did you know this is one of the least important factors in a professional background check?  Osama bin Laden had no criminal record, and investigators say most scammers committing employment fraud or providing false resumes don’t have one either.  A proper investigation will cover criminal, court and bankruptcy records, and much more.
  3. Professional history: Where did this person work in the past? Are these legitimate companies? At this point if you have any doubts you might want to consider a company background check also. Can these companies confirm the position and the period worked there? What do they think about the candidate? Verifying the subject’s reputation is very important.
  4. Educational background: A great percentage of people lie about their education because nobody seems to verify the information, especially if the candidate is over 40 and went to college or university 20 years ago. If your candidate looks great on paper and went to school overseas, don’t assume it’s accurate.  Contact a professional investigator so you can make an informed decision.
  5. Financial status: Some in depth investigations require a deeper knowledge of the candidate and his or her financial status.  This is true in cases when you’re considering an executive level position or new CEO to lead a foreign division, for example.  In these cases, an international asset search may be advised, so you can be certain the subject has no bad credit and is financially stable.
  6. Reference check: Recently, companies have decided to go further in their investigations and look for character and reference checks (the candidate´s hobbies, political affiliations, what they enjoy, their reputation, daily routines, what they react to, etc). A person´s interests can reveal a lot about them.  A proper investigation will discreetly verify reputation and references.

Hiring internationally is a great opportunity that today’s employers have, but it has to be well done with proper verification processes in place.  Be safe, be skeptical and always verify!

C. Wright
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