Even as the stories of resume fraud pile up, 15 percent of employers do not run any background checks on employee candidates. While that means 85 percent of employers do take some precautions, many background checks are fragmented and incomplete.
Employers must learn to never take an employee at face value—not matter how valid their credentials seem. There have been several high publicized cases this year where professionals had fabricated parts of their resume many years ago and had risen in rank in part due to falsified credentials. Their deceit was only discovered when a prestigious company was considering the person for employment and had run a background check. Only then, years after the original fraud was conducted, was the fraud detected and exposed. That means that employees are slipping through the cracks and growing careers for years on false pretenses. No matter who your potential candidate is, you need to do a thorough background check, you never know if their previous employers did.
Such is the case of former assistant professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Arnoop Shankar. Mr. Shankar’s resume claimed to hold a doctorate degree in epidemiology, while in truth he only has a master’s of epidemiology.
When West Virginia University (WVU) singled out Mr. Shankar as their first choice for their new School of Public Health in 2012 they started a background check and quickly discovered that Mr. Shankar had made several false claims on his resume. Had WVU not conducted a background check, Mr. Shankar would have held a leadership position as well been responsible for millions of dollars in research grants and federal funding.
When NUS was alerted to the fraud, they discreetly fired Mr. Shankar. NUS did admit that they didn’t conduct a background check because they didn’t feel the need to question his credentials. Following his dismissal, Arnoop somehow managed to find another position as an associate professor of family medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. His employment there was short, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
Employees like Mr. Shankar are one of the reasons why background checks are necessary. Unfortunately you cannot rely on people to be honest, and you must not assume that because they are employed by a prestigious institution or company that are as qualified as they claim.