Cons abound in job market


One of every eight people who applies for a job has a criminal record. 

So says background screening company EMPS, which checked half a million job applicants last year. The company’s annual screening report for 2015 reveals that, of the applicants subjected to a background check, 11.8% had a criminal record.

It gets worse – a third of those with criminal records had more than one conviction, and 16% had three or more convictions.

Kirsten Halcrow, CEO of EMPS, said the figure in 2014 was also 11.8%. In 2013 it was 10.70%.

She said one of the reasons for the figure being so high was that advanced screening techniques were now being used.

“Since 2011 South Africa has been using Afis, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, and you can’t fake fingerprints.” said Halcrow.

She said that in the past criminal checks were performed only against someone’s name. Then the hit rate was between 3% and 4%.

Research showed that 15% of job applicants had a negative credit record and 9% of ID documents could not be verified.

Halcrow said 15.8% of academic qualifications were unverifiable. One in 10 applicants claimed to have a doctorate.

The metered taxi industry attracts the most criminal applicants, according to research, with 17.54% of job seekers having a previous conviction. This is followed by merchandising at 14.38% and government service with 13.66%.

Of the criminal records uncovered, EMPS found that just more than 20% involved theft, 20% assault and 11.5% road traffic offences.

Halcrow said that during interviews applicants are asked if they have a criminal record.

“I would say that less than half of those with records disclose it,” she said. Not disclosing a criminal record, Halcrow said, is to the applicant’s detriment.

“If they declare a previous conviction a company can look at it and decide. But if they don’t, the company see it as misrepresentation.”

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