‘Job-Fishing’ And The New Threats Facing Tech Recruitment

Daniel Callaghan, CEO at pre-employment screening platform Veremark, explores…


It sounds like something straight out of BBC’s The Capture, but it wasn’t fiction when, this summer, the FBI revealed job applicants were using deepfakes and stolen information to apply for remote roles under assumed identities.The jobs applied to by these scammers included IT, computer programming, database and software-related roles – some of which would have given access to sensitive customer information, financial data or corporate databases.


Risks of recruitment


Welcome to the new reality of hiring. The rise of remote and international hiring sparked by the pandemic may have brought an array of benefits – access to a much wider talent pool for one – but they also pose some new and unfamiliar risks.

Employers hiring today must be alert to the threat of ‘job-fishing’ – a term I use to cover scams in which, as with catfishing, someone assumes a fake identity in order to deceive others, in this case to secure employment.


CV Catfishing


In one variation of this trend, under-qualified applicants employ a stand-in to pretend to be them during the interview, only for the real candidate to turn up on the first day. According to Insider, which recently reported on this phenomenon, the scam has become much more prevalent due to the rise in work-from-home culture and overseas hiring. As the most enthusiastic adopter of remote working, the tech industry is particularly vulnerable to these trends. According to data from the recruitment firm Hays, 91% of UK tech companies now offer a hybrid arrangement (compared to 67% of UK employers as a whole) while 42% offer fully remote roles.But the good news is that by putting some simple yet robust measures in place, employers can protect themselves against even the most sophisticated of candidate scams, confirming that a candidate is who they say they are and is qualified for the role.

Making thorough ID checks a key part of the recruitment process is a no brainer. While this can be done both manually or via automated software, the latter – which uses biometric scanning technology and picks up even hard-to-detect evidence of tampering – is far more reliable. The Government has recently mandated that virtual ‘right to work’ ID checks must be carried out using approved third party software.


The benefits of secure screening


Social media screening, which will identify if a prospective employee has a consistent online presence across different platforms, can also help bolster ID checks.

Verifying an applicant’s employment history and academic record is also crucial in order to confirm they really do have the experience and skills needed for the position.

As candidates from overseas are likely to have qualifications from unfamiliar institutions, it could be harder to spot fake degrees issued by “diploma mills”. According to Veremark data, tech job applicants were most likely to fail background checks due to discrepancies in their academic qualifications last year, indicating this should be a key area of focus.

It’s also sadly not uncommon for some job seekers to exaggerate past roles – such as by tweaking their former job titles to suggest they held a more senior role than they did. Thorough screening, which involves verifying information with previous employers, will soon uncover any inconsistencies.