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Recruiters are in need of new document verification methods, and blockchain holds the key

(Image credit: Image Credit: Zapp2Photo / Shutterstock)

Staff shortages have been a major cause for concern in the UK’s healthcare sector for some time, and these shortages have been brought to the forefront of the nation in light of COVID-19. With the coronavirus exacerbating the impact of shortages and the obstacles faced by recruiters, those tasked with hiring for healthcare roles across the UK are attempting to plug the widening recruitment gap by sourcing qualified professionals from across the globe. Sectors such as healthcare carry a particular need for verified, authentic credentials and have a higher risk profile associated with under-vetting a potential candidate. The threat of an underqualified hire has not been so palpable to the nation in our lifetime. As time is of the essence during this global pandemic, solutions are required immediately.

The process of making a secure, trusted hire that is satisfactory for both employer and employee is difficult enough in a sector with minimal risk. When it comes to healthcare, matching candidates with employers requires not just the match up of role, hours and pay, but also highly regulated qualifications which must be vetted. Traditionally, professional document verification is known to be a complex, lengthy and costly process, made even more complicated by a high rate of unverified candidates and fraudulent applicants which must be sifted through before a pool of potential candidates can be considered. This concern is highlighted by an investigation by the BBC, which found that in 2013 and 2014 more than 3,000 fake qualifications were sold to UK-based buyers. In 2017, another survey, this time conducted by YouGov found that one in ten Brits lie on their CVs.

One of the latest innovations in the market that has the potential to transform the recruitment process as we know it is a primary source verification (PSV) solution, enhanced by blockchain technology. Innovations like these allow employers and recruiters to search for candidates in a more timely and secure manner, saving precious time. Even more vitally, the cost savings ensure healthcare providers can be spending their money where it is truly needed.

How does blockchain assist in verification?

A blockchain is a shared file which records transactions. Each of the transactions, e.g. information, is added in as a ‘block’ and is stored decentralised in the chain which means that once added in, no one can interfere with or control its content. In practice, this means that once an applicant’s documents have been added, the applicant nor the recruiter or anyone else can tamper with the records because every member has to agree to its validity and can access the history of record changes.

Ethereum blockchain is an example of a type of public blockchain, which can easily be used across industries to validate documents. It allows users to always retain the ability to access their validation proof, even if the verification provider ceases to exist.

Blockchain verification for high sensitivity documents

Passports, education certificates and other qualifications are regarded as highly sensitive documents in the eyes of regulatory laws such as the GDPR, and stringent data security requirements apply. Blockchain technology allows such documents to be stored as “fingerprints” instead, providing a form of encryption and security. Each fingerprint is individual and does not reveal any information about the document it belongs to, which of course safeguards the information it contains and enables the owner of the document - in this case, a job applicant - to choose exactly who can access their verified personal information. In computer science lingo, these fingerprints are called “hashes.” Bundled together, the signature of these hashes is stored on the blockchain and can be checked against an individual’s credentials.

Recruitment processes overhauled

The implications of an innovation such as blockchain verification for document can have huge benefits, especially in a post-Brexit world. It allows recruiters to create a secure portal for applicants, allowing them to upload and verify their professional documents and data onto blockchain, which acts as a form of portable credentials. UK regulators, HR managers and recruiters will then be able to view and verify candidates’ credentials against the blockchain.

Blockchain can drastically streamline the verification process for regulators and HR managers, by eliminating the continual churn of verification requests on employers and educational institutions every time a new candidate applies for a role.

The decentralised nature of blockchain means this scenario offers a ‘verify once, use forever’ approach to verification, further reducing the strain on those in charge of hiring applicants from overseas. In addition, by offering an online and on-demand primary source verification (PSV) solution, it will also ensure that candidates’ credentials are authentic and issued by an accredited institution, eliminating the risk of hiring unqualified, fraudulent individuals. 

The process is also expedited for candidates as their credentials only need to be verified once before being saved on the blockchain. They can then share this with potential employers at any point during their careers, who can check the validity of the verification against the blockchain, rather than having to verify the same information over and over every time an individual changes a job. 

Self-sovereign identity as a concept

The blockchain ‘fingerprint’ also constitutes an important building block within the concept of self-sovereign-identity, something that can be controlled by the user and only the user, so it can never be taken away. In practice, this means if someone secures a university diploma, they can add the ‘fingerprint’ of that  verified diploma to their self-sovereign identity from one of the leading providers like for example uPort and the individual handles the control of their identity and how it is used entirely at their discretion  

Through the self-sovereign identity model, individuals in highly regulated sectors such as healthcare, education and financial services can eliminate the friction encountered by providing their pre-verified documents rather than experiencing the same background check process each time. Not only does this save the recruiter time and money, but it also makes the individual powerful, credible and ultimately, far more employable.

René Seifert,

René Seifert,