Remote work has transformed the way how many professionals operate, granting them flexibility and more enjoyable family time. But it’s also exposed tech companies to the risk of being scammed by job seekers. To ensure our hiring process involving Latin American developers runs seamlessly and without manipulation, we’re facing the problem head on – learning how to identify and curb schemes like hopping and cheating through our own experiences. Below, we’ve identified three major pitfalls that occur when U.S.-based or European technology companies try to employ developers in the most prospective Latin American talent hubs.
The recruitment landscape in Latin America
Talent acquisition in the Latin American software development industry was a wild ride in 2015–2020 as software development companies fought for top professionals. With a limited qualified candidate pool, recruiters offered too-good-to-pass-up salaries to entice the most qualified employees and speed up the search process. Salaries skyrocketed; it wasn’t uncommon to see developers cash in on lucrative offers. This market peculiarity has generated a massive pool of candidates with profiles similar to job hoppers, listing frequent job changes after 3–8 months of work before the next job hop. However, don’t be quick to accuse them – it was simply taking advantage of available opportunities and not because they lacked commitment.
Another LatAm specific is that local developers prefer signing direct contracts with employers in the United States or Europe. This is the number one reason for changing jobs there. Such contracts come with benefits appealing to local developers, including working with high-caliber, internationally-renown professionals, prospects for travel, relocation opportunities, and higher salary since no middlemen take away part of their income. Plus having salaries remunerated through hard currencies helps them avoid losses due to inflation experienced within local economies.
Finally, local developers may not actively update their public work profiles to avoid the excess attention of recruiters. Instead, they’re monitoring products and companies that won their interest and prefer sending CVs once there are relevant open positions in such companies.
Read more: Tech Layoffs and Economic Recession in LATAM
Technology companies know the turmoil caused by employees with double jobs. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare problem when working remotely.
Whether a candidate is taking a full-time job offer from another company while continuing to work for their current employer or quitting to secure multiple jobs, their productivity is low, with competition issues between firms becoming more prevalent. Companies that invest heavily in hiring quality workers may find themselves at an economic loss should their employee leave or underperform due to split attention from having another job elsewhere.
There are two real-life examples.
Our team had such a case once. We’ve made a job offer to a developer with another offer from another company. Trying to retain him, we increased the sum several times; so did our opponents. Eventually, once the amounts became really high, he couldn’t refuse either of the companies and decided to try to foot in both camps. The trick was immediately noticed – he had low productivity and focus, was late for meetings, and sometimes didn’t show up.
Here is another pretty common example. The company revealed once that the person they trusted completely and who worked for them for many years had also been working for another company to double his salary. It came to light when he mistakenly tried to log into his work account with another company’s corporate email.
Let’s explore a few strategies for staying one step ahead:
- Ask for references. Not only do they give helpful insight into who this job seeker really is – if there’s something shady in their background, your thorough checks will be enough of a deterrent and send them packing.
- Public profile update policy. Ask all potential employees to update their LinkedIn profile on the day they start. For the prospective employee who may think of cheating on you, this is a warning signal – they won’t risk being exposed by having two employers listed on their public resume. Also, checking your employees’ profiles unannounced after some time is beneficial to ensure they haven’t removed any of their employment records.
- Legal protection. Consider including a clause in the contract that requires any side work engagement to be agreed upon by the company. If it is a full-time job or a competitor company or product, you reserve the right to prohibit such engagement or to terminate the employment contract. We also recommend prescribing penalties for violating this clause up to reimbursement of the contract’s total value. A cheating person would be afraid to sign a contract with such terms.
- Encourage an open dialogue. It’s important to have face-to-face conversations about candidates’ and current employees’ personal goals, challenges, and performance. If a person has been dissatisfied with a project or compensation for a long time, they may think of a career change for a higher salary or getting a new job in parallel. Having honest conversations on time can help prevent an employee from lingering, leading to bigger problems.
Speaking about interview fraud, let’s say it involves any misrepresentation of an applicant or their skills during the interview process – including when someone lies about who they are, uses tools like ChatGPT to cope with development tasks, or pays someone to take the job interview and/or coding challenge instead of them. Here are some helpful tips for reducing the risk of such fraud:
- Speak face-to-face. Ask to keep the camera on during all interview stages. Pay attention to the photo in the candidate’s profile and if it matches what you see. If there is no photo or some random image in a profile and the candidate is unwilling to turn on the video, it may be cheating.
- Request a document. Ask for an official document with a clear photograph to prove a job seeker’s identity. Alternatively, services such as TrustID and iDenfy can help you verify their identities even if you are abroad.
- The devil’s in the details. Ask subtle questions based on the LinkedIn profile if you have concerns or if something looks suspicious. For example, if a job seeker stated they went to the University of Florida, ask why they wanted to study in New York. You can also ask them how they passed one of the certifications. You’ll know the candidate’s identity is fake if they don’t correct the mistake or have hard times providing a detailed answer.
- Home coding challenge. Double-check that the person you are interviewing is the one who has written the code in any test assignments given to them. In most cases, if the person you’re interviewing didn’t write the code, chances are they won’t be able to answer real-time questions about it or work through adding new functionality to their code task during the interview.
- Real-time coding challenge. Try to include a real-time coding step on the video call with shared screen into your interviewing process.
A background check is another aspect that any hiring manager shouldn’t skip. In most Latin American countries, you can only access legal information about job seekers after having their permission for privacy reasons. Still, you can access criminal, civil records (which reflect unpaid bills, disputes with contractors or customers, disagreements with landlords or tenants, and slander), check their diplomas and degrees, driving offenses, economic status, and international watchlist entries. For most types of checks, it takes 3-7 business days to get all the background data.
For requesting the data, you may need quite a lot of information: all variations of the subject’s name, date of birth, identification number (such as CURP Number in Mexico, CPF # in Argentina or equal), mother’s full name (to distinguish from subjects with identical names), nationality, full address, copy of ID, copy of driver’s license, and written permission from every subject of its background checks. Some records cannot be accessed by third parties even with written consent, for example, driving records in Argentina. In this case, you can ask a candidate to request the necessary records by themselves and provide you with a copy.
Also, if you want your check to include former employment records or validate data about education, be ready to provide the details about working or studying periods, job titles, degrees, and managing person’s details.
It’s important to know that running background checks in LatAm countries may violate candidates’ data privacy rights. For example, according to the General Data Protection Law in Brazil, the company must carry out a Legitimate Interest Assessment (LIA) to prove the company’s interest in criminal records is relied on as a lawful ground. Since technology companies deal with confidential information, they usually qualify for LIA because their positions require a high level of trust. Platforms such as Global Backgrounds or InfoCubic process local background checks remotely for U.S. and European citizens and can guide through all such legal aspects.
As we said, the market’s peculiarities generated many candidates with hopping-like job histories. Also, many candidates tell us that it’s generally not common in the local culture to work with one employer for a long time. They are naturally curious and always look for new projects and opportunities that may interest them.
However, there are signs that a person may be changing jobs frequently for inappropriate reasons. Here are some recommendations for spotting them:
- Do some math. Analyze the average length of employment in open profiles. If it’s less than a year, it’s a signal that it’s a job hopper in front of you. Let’s say a person has ten years of experience and thirteen companies in their job record – that’s a warning sign.
- Talk about the “why’s.” When interviewing, take the time to ask about each job – how they liked it and why they decided to move on. Candidates often say they want to find a good company this time, and when talking about their hiring history, it turns out they got poached for more money every time before – an obvious sign they lie.
- Matching expectations. Find out what the company, position, and project should be like for them to stay long-term, and analyze how well that picture fits your position. The Latin American work culture praises work and life balance, support, and friendliness high. After reaching a certain level of compensation, many former money chasers are looking for a culture that will allow them to stay.
Think twice before hitting delete
Every career path is unique, and it’s all too easy to overlook candidates who don’t quite fit the “normal” mold. In many cases, even when a candidate doesn’t appear to check off all of your boxes, looking more deeply at an individual’s application can reveal hidden talents and emergent skills with the potential for genuine value-add. From our experience, don’t exclude these candidates:
- Candidates who tried building several startups. When you see applicants with years of experience who tried to build their startups several times now seeking full-time employment, it’s not necessarily a red flag. Instead, it might hint at some of their psychological traits like creativity and ambition; they want to innovate and try new things while still staying rooted in the tech space. Whether this type of candidate is an asset to your company depends on various factors – if you’re in an innovative or fast-paced industry, such candidates may be ideal. However, if your project isn’t set up for frequent changes and pivoting, these candidates may not be the best fit for the job.
- Empty profiles or very little information. Many Latin American developers have very detailed CVs but do not usually update their work experience on social networks like LinkedIn. Again, locals dislike the increased attention from recruiters; they prefer to respond to specific jobs themselves. You may be surprised what a gold mine was hidden against their blank profiles.
To sum up, recruiting in Latin America comes with unique challenges, especially in the tech industry. Companies must be vigilant and proactive to prevent fraud and job hoppers. It’s crucial to conduct thorough background checks, verify references, and establish clear communication channels to avoid bad hires. Additionally, building relationships and understanding the cultural nuances of the region can help foster trust and collaboration. By implementing these strategies, companies can mitigate the risks and tap into the vast pool of talent that Latin America has to offer.
Originally published at the Lano blog: https://www.lano.io/blog/how-to-prevent-fraud-when-recruiting-in-latin-america.