By: MILLICENT MWOLOLO
Career investigation is becoming extremely important task in today’s the job market. Top employers including banks, corporates and human resource recruitment firms are increasingly engaging investigators to conduct due diligence on fresh recruits.
A career investigation is a type of exploration that seeks to find out more information about an individual’s past work history or what a specific line of work entails.
“It seeks to establish whether an employee is suitable for the position that they work in, or if fresh recruit can be effective working in a certain capacity,” states Jane Mugoh— the chief executive officer at Trimo Security Limited. The line of work research considers both the work experience as well as screening of educational background.
Through this, career investigators enable organisations to make smart and informed decisions through the use of background checks and verification services. A career investigator’s main work is to verify the information provided by candidates earmarked for employment, explains Mr Joseph Aswani, human resource manager at Sheer Logic Management Consultants Ltd, a HR management consultant firm based in Nairobi.
The information is then used in making appropriate decisions on whether to hire a candidate or not. “It also gives insight in deciding the appropriate salary and position role and probably the length of the probation period,” Mr Aswani says.
For instance, if a candidate had exaggerated their work experience, a ‘test’ can depict a deficiency in experience or skills. “For this reason, the salary adjusted to take care of the cost of the training that the candidate has to undergo,” he states.
In other cases, when references are called upon to give their take, it emerges that some duties were being handled by someone else, and as a result the job-seeker is nullified or their salary is adjusted accordingly. The same applies to some people who may indicate to have the required academic qualifications, but are yet to graduate.
While on probation, investigations may also reveal that one has given academic certificates that are not genuine.
“In this case, a company may terminate this person and take legal action. A company can also be lenient enough and only reduce the salary, but keep the employee,” Mr Aswani shares.
Thus, career investigators offer, prudent, reliable and professional verifications and investigation services for human resource departments and HR consulting firms. This is especially so for pre-employment and post-employment checks and any other recruitment verifications as ordered by the employer.
Areas checked include: employment references, lapses in employment history, academic papers, character and personality checks. Other areas that are screened include: drug testing, social media usage, and any criminal record states Ms Mugoh. Her firm, Trimo Security Limited, which is based in Nairob, works with a number of employers to conduct background checks on employment candidates. The procedure ensures that a candidate’s documents and presentations are above board, legitimate and real.
Through educational background checks, they are able to ascertain a candidate’s educational qualifications, and transcript verifications. References are also verified, alongside previous employment history and reasons for leaving or discontinuity.
“We write to academic institutions to confirm whether the papers presented are genuine before an individual is confirmed,” Mr Aswani says. All these ensure that due diligence is observed before the prospective employer declares a candidate is declared fit for the job, adds Ms Mugoh.
With increase in criminal activities in the country, criminal records are significant for most employers today. Ms Mugoh however explains that a career investigation is not a criminal investigation, rather it seeks tio establish credibility.
Indeed, resumes are marketing documents and no job-seeker is required to put anything negative on them, notes Mr Aswani. “However, if asked to list all positions that one has held in their career, it should be done,” he adds. Even with a career investigation, a job seeker should not be scared if they have a previous criminal incident. “What they need is to explain whatever happened — if called upon, and it should be supported by evidence, and any documentation,” states Ms Mugoh.
Further, career investigators come in handy when firms are establishing new business units or departments, or is overhauling certain job sections. “Here, the career investigation is done in order to find out: the work involved, the necessary skills, qualifications and training needed, average pay, general working conditions, and any previous reports on case studies related to the new job structure,” explains Ms Mugoh.
High levels of unemployment have brought about a rise in fake and forged documentation. These include: diploma and degree certificates, national examination certificates, transcripts and national identity cards.
Many job-seekers are also being dishonest in stating past salaries, positions and experience. This has made career investigators extremely important for employers and hiring firms. This requires a lot of time since it may involve visiting the previous employers which companies may not afford.
What this means to job seekers is that they have to throw in some extra caution at what they put down on their resume and the documents that they attach.
“Job seekers must be alert and ensure that their resumes reflect who they are, and that they can defend and prove every fact provided during interviews,” Mr Aswani explains. He adds that any discrepancy in the information provided may dent the image of the candidate especially if it is a senior or sensitive position.
Job seekers too, need to be familiar with the kind of information that is required during career investigations, notes Ms Mugoh. “This way, they will be able to know what information to make available via say, social media,” she shares. She calls upon young people to disengage themselves from activities that may negatively affect their future careers.
For companies, recruitment takes time and is costly. It is therefore prudent to ensure that every effort is made to do it right on the onset, and career investigations provides this efficiency in hiring the right people, with the right skills set and for the right job.