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International English-Speaking Attitudes Toward Business Verification

Background

I worked for a few months as a user researcher with the anti-fraud team at Indeed.

Job fraud is a big problem that affects those who can least afford it. Because of this, it is vital to understand how employers outside the US react to needing to verify their business, as well as to understand which verification mechanisms best serve those populations. Verification allows employers to confirm their legitimacy, making it possible for Indeed to detect and stop illegitimate businesses - or fraudsters - that create an employer account before they can affect job seekers.

I ran a study in January 2023 to understand the attitudes of the non-US English speaking world toward needing to verify the legitimacy of their businesses. Understanding employer attitudes was expected to help reduce the friction involved in verification and optimize the experience to their needs.
 

The anti-fraud team expected that English-speaking populations would have many similar attitudes toward verification as those in the US, but we also believed there would be differences in which verification methods they are accustomed to and which messages would be most effective at encouraging them to verify their business.

I ran 12 90 minute studies with 6 employers from Canada and 6 employers from Great Britain.

For reasons of confidentiality, I will not be displaying any of the screens we used in this study.

The two methods of verification tested in this study were uploading specific business document to Indeed and using an external ID verification service to verify their ID.

Main questions

I created a discussion guide based on a previous session run with US employers, and our main questions were as follows:

  • Do Canadian and British employers understand the US employer verification screens once adjusted to include documents we request for those countries?

    • What is their reaction to it?

  • What do they expect to see when verifying their business, if anything?

  • Which of the documents we accept do they have available to them, knowing this varies depending on if they own or are employed by their company?

    • If they do not have them immediately available, can get they easily get access to them?

    • Do they want to be able to have someone else provide those documents to Indeed?

    • Are there other documents they would prefer to provide instead?

  • Would they be willing and able to verify their business by using their personal ID?

    • What is their reaction to that concept?

  • How do they feel about the fact that we ask them to verify while posting a job and that job will not go live until they finish the verification process?

  • How do they feel about being asked to verify their business, knowing this varies depending on if they own or are employed by their company?

  • What is their experience with being verified in other places?

    • Do they know what verification means?

    • Is there another, better term for this?

  • We asked for their ratings on a number of factors:

    • Security needs by various industries, including hiring

    • Importance of various types of security for their business

    • The most and least compelling messaging options to explain the need for verification

    • The terms they most easily and quickly understand for someone trying to steal their business identity

  • Identify things about their culture that may affect their hiring process or experience

Findings

ID verification reactions

British employers were much more comfortable with ID verification than Canadian employers, who were uncomfortable in similar ways to US employers from a previous study.

However, no employer understood why verification using their own ID would have anything to do with verifying their business, especially for those who were not owners of the company.

Ability to verify their business

There were a number of concerns around the availability of both documentation and relevant IDs:

  • Some employers did not have an ID from the country they were living and working in, making ID-based verification impossible.

  • Other employers had a phone number from outside the country they were living in, making 2 factor authentication difficult.

  • Fully remote companies did not have some of the information or documents we asked for, including a physical location and official business status according to their local authority.

Security needs for hiring

Much like employers in the US, employers did not think of hiring as an industry in high need of security, especially as compared to financial industries. Employers did not have a good understanding of what can happen if someone steals their account, nor if someone creates an employer account pretending to be them. Most did not understand the kinds of fraud that illegitimate businesses enact against job seekers, nor did they understand that this would affect their reputation if it's believed to be their company's doing.

Terminology and clarity

There was some confusion relating to the terminology we were using, as expected, and we were able to identify places to correct the terminology for each country.

We also needed to improve the clarity of our explanation of what we do and do not do with their documents or ID, specifically around how they are kept secure, what is and is not being done with them, and how long they are saved.

Results

Due to cost-saving measures across the industry, Indeed postponed plans to require additional countries to verify their business not long after I ran this study.

The team was also in the process of identifying ways to appropriately internationalize content that differs by country without having a translation requirement.

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