Managers of an IT company in New Delhi were puzzled as they sifted through a pile of CVs: as many as 30 job seekers claimed to have worked previously for the same employer.
Unwilling to take any chances, the managers approached a firm of professional sleuths that specialises in screening information given by prospective employees.
What emerged left them stunned.
The “employer” turned out to be an owner of a dingy, one-room mobile repair shop who was pretending to be the HR manager of a fake IT firm.
In return for money, he answered verification calls and described how the candidates had worked for him doing data entry.
“Our investigation revealed the conspiracy to show previous experience of three to four months for the candidates,” said Preeta Pradhan, a vice-president at screening firm AuthBridge.
Forging qualifications, faking experience and inventing companies: desperate candidates are resorting to all sorts of fraud to land jobs in a tough Indian employment market.
Low business confidence and high interest rates have led economic growth to plunge to the lowest in a decade, making private sector job opportunities harder to come by.
A survey by AuthBridge, which has screened millions of candidates, showed nearly one in five had fudged some information on their CV in 2012-13.
As many as 51 per cent submitted fake education documents.
Background screening was hardly heard of in India until the turn of the millennium, and has been largely driven by the outsourcing and IT industry, one of India’s biggest economic success stories.
Foreign companies taking their back-office operations to India wanted assurances that employees were reliable, while intense competition led to high staff turnover and huge recruitment needs.
The Indian Association of Professional Background Screeners pegs the size of the industry about $US32 million ($A36 million) a year and growing fast.
Figures from the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) show the number of qualified workers in the IT sector has risen 17 per cent year on year, which is more than double the rate of growth in new jobs.
Those faking their CVs are mainly looking for lower entry-level jobs, although those seeking top positions have also been found resorting to fraudulent tactics, Aswathi said.
According to the AuthBridge survey, about eight per cent of offers made for leadership positions across industry in the past year were withdrawn because candidates provided false information.