The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fact fraud haunts tech firms
- National staff roster ahead to check fudged CVs

A techie, in his late twenties, was called back to Calcutta from on-site project location last month. The human resources (HR) department of the leading IT company asked him to produce the original documents of some of the academic and professional credentials he had mentioned in his curriculum vitae (CV). He failed to produce the originals; his service was terminated.

This is no stray case. With the IT industry hitting a high-growth trajectory and companies lining up ambitious ramp-up plans, the number of fact-and-figure frauds is on the rise in the knowledge industry, from down south to Sector V.

To address the problem, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), the apex body of IT and IT-enabled services companies, is creating a national employee roster.

The database ' to be put together with third-party help ' will contain all details of those working in the industry. 'We feel the register will help solve some of the problems. But the database will be voluntary,' clarified a Nasscom spokesperson, adding that work would start in 'a couple of months'.

There is no industry-wide data about the extent of fraud, but Aseem Marwaha of eLitmus.Com, a leading HR service provider to the IT industry, told Metro that the percentage of misrepresentation of facts is as high as 25 per cent.

'Potential candidates fudge facts with regard to the number of years completed in the profession, knowledge of technology, position held in previous companies, compensation package, academic credentials and even marks obtained in various examinations/courses,' said Marwaha.

Recently, Azim Premji brought the issue into full public glare by mentioning how a multinational detective agency, hired by the company, had found out that 'about one per cent of Wipro's employees had submitted false documents at the time of interview'.

The practice, more common in some of the southern states, has now infected the state's IT hub.

Recently, two leading companies in Sector V pulled the termination trigger on some employees found guilty of concocting CVs. Unconfirmed estimates from Saltlec suggest that around 100 people have lost their jobs in the past six months on this count.

The surge in demand for manpower is linked to this trend, where the HR departments are working overtime to meet their targets and candidates are trying to cash in.

'I am aware of at least five cases in which people lost their jobs for cooking up their work experience. We have learnt that the number will only go up,' said an employee of a leading IT firm, on condition of anonymity.

Industry insiders label this as just the tip of the iceberg, adding how misrepresentation is often encouraged in some companies.

'They can charge more from clients for experienced professionals and so, companies knowingly accept the false credentials. Action is initiated only if it is pointed out by clients,' explained an industry veteran.

With companies waking up to the menace of misrepresentation, HR departments are busy laying down stringent measures to minimise the malpractice.

A Wipro spokesperson from Bangalore confirmed that the company had started taking the services of 'third parties' for background checks, with overseas clients demanding full information about employees before allowing them into projects.

'We place high importance on integrity. If we find any misrepresentation, we give the employee a chance to correct the information. In case the employee fails, there is no middle path and we terminate the services,' added the Wipro spokesperson.

Internally as well, the companies ' irrespective of their size ' have started scrutinising the CVs more closely and making reference checks a must.

According to an IBM Global Service spokesperson, employment documentation provided by the employees is carefully verified before taking them on board.

'The situation is tricky because people don't find it difficult to bag new jobs even after termination. The problem has to be dealt strongly at the industry level,' said Marwaha.

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