Small Businesses and Background Checks

Small Businesses and Background Checks

Most people assume that large companies who are hiring new employees conduct background checks as part of their pre employment screening policy.

For those who know or suspect that something in their background may cause disqualification for a position might aim their efforts at employment at a smaller business, one that would be less likely to run any kind of background checks on candidates or new hires, since they probably don’t have their own dedicated human resources department.

Small businesses have typically been reluctant to run background checks, depending instead on interviews, gut instinct, and local reputation of the applicant.

Today’s workforce is far more fluid and mobile that in the past.  Potential employees are far more likely to commute longer distances and even to change residences to obtain employment that they may have turned down a couple of years ago.  And as employment became harder to get, applicants became more willing to exaggerate, cover up, or even lie to enhance their chances at employment.

There is no 100% certain way to eliminate a bad hire or potential problem employee, but the advent of fast, affordable, background checks has given small businesses a reliable tool in their ability to avoid problems in the future.  A background check is far cheaper than replacing a bad hire, even on the first day of employment.

If there are questions about setting up an employee background check program for your small or medium business, please call 770-426-0547, or click here to contact a representative.

Reasons to Conduct Background Checks

Reasons to Conduct Background Checks

More and more employers are conducting background checks as an integral part of their pre employment screening procedure as shown by numerous studies and reports.  One of the reasons for some of the employers are doing this is because of an unpleasant experience with an employee.  Maybe the employee stole; perhaps the employee fought with a fellow employee or customer; or maybe the employee received a DUI while in the company van, and the employer decided that this type of behavior would never happen at his business again.

Most employment screening includes a criminal background check.  This is the most often requested of the background checks and obviously is done to determine if the individual has had any contact with the judicial system, and if so, how often and how serious was it.

A social security trace is often run to reveal any addresses used by the applicant.  Are there any locations that the candidate might need to explain because he left them off his application?  Why would someone do that?  Perhaps to hide a criminal record or the location of a job he’d rather you not know about.

A motor vehicle record is a must for an employee who will be driving on company business at any time.  Even valid licenses may have severe restrictions and withheld privileges associated with them.  A license that looks valid may also be a counterfeit or suspended.  The candidate sure isn’t going to tell you if it is.

Reference checks, professional licensing, and employment verifications are other relevant areas of background checks that may lead to a clearer picture or the applicant’s past activities.

An employer certainly has the right to make an informed decision in hiring a new employee and thorough pre employment screening helps in making that decision.

As with any policy, apply pre employment screening consistently to all applicants considered for a position with your company.

For more information on employee background checks, call 770-426-0547 or click here to be connected.

Workplace Violence Screened by Background Checks

Workplace Violence Screened by Background Checks 

Pre employment screening can’t possibly exclude an individual who might display bullying tendencies that could possibly lead to workplace violence, can it?

There seem to be more and more stories being publicized about workplace violence recently.  A workplace shooting at a Manchester, CT brewery that took the lives of nine people is an example.

There is also more media attention being paid to workplace bullying, which has a very broad definition, encompassing activities from slander and name calling to aggression and physical assaults.

Two thing are certain about workplace violence incidents: they can cost an employer big bucks in the case of lawsuits, and while they can’t be totally controlled, there are things an employer can do to lessen the risk.

From the pre employment screening and background checks standpoint, there are two areas that deserve heightened scrutiny:  criminal background checks and reference background checks.

Does the criminal background check show any signs of a violent or abusive person?  Are there charges for simple battery, affray, disorderly conduct, or domestic violence?  If so, pay extra attention to the applicant during the interview process and get a feel for their attitude.  Ask specific questions about information contained on their application and resume, and determine if they are truthful or covering something up.

Make your reference background checks as detailed as you can, asking former employers if there were instances of bullying or violence related to the applicant.  Although some former employers don’t willingly give this type of information, there are others just waiting for you to ask.

It is a lot simpler to not hire a person with a history of bullying and violence than it is to handle it once they become your employee and incidents have occurred.

To discuss your pre employment screening and procedures relating to your background checks, click here or call 770-426-0547

You Have to Give SHRM Credit

You Have to Give SHRM Credit

There is legislation pending before congress that would remove credit background checks from employers’ pre employment screening programs.  The bill HR 3149, the Equal Opportunity for All Act, was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, and is currently as of October assigned to committee.

Colleen Parker Denston, Human Resources Director at a Maryland prep school and a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) testified on behalf of that organization before the subcommittee considering the bill.

Ms. Denson stated, “There is compelling public interest in ensuring that employers can assess the skills, abilities, work habits, and integrity of potential hires.  Credit histories, like other aspects of the background check process, are but one piece of information HR professionals use to evaluate whether an individual should be hired.”

SHRM surveys on employers’ background checks have shown that the use of credit histories have not increased in recent years, despite changes in the economy.

There seems to be a common misconception among opponents of credit histories used in the pre employment process that a certain credit score may eliminate an applicant from consideration, or that unfortunate circumstances such as medical bills or job loss may affect a candidate’s employability.

In actuality, credit reports for employment purposes are restricted from providing a credit score, and most companies using credit reports for employment screening tend to look at the overall credit picture rather than specific slip ups contained in the report.  Most companies use the credit report only as one small part of a larger snapshot of a candidate being considered in the employment screening process.

For more information on the use of credit reports in pre employment screening, call 770-426-0547 or click here to email.

This blog does not represent any official SHRM viewpoint and is informational only.

Background Checks and Social Media

Background Checks and Social Media

If your pre employment screening efforts consist of Google and Facebook, you are not getting the information you need to make a good hiring decision.  In fact, the information you get from the internet may be worse than no information at all.

In the world of corporate HR, two words you will hear fairly consistently are… fairly and consistently.

Using a social site like MySpace or Facebook as a pre employment tool poses several potential problems.  Are you checking every applicant online, or just a few?  What if the applicant’s personal page shows that he or she is of a particular religion or race?  Suppose they belong to a group whose views you don’t happen to agree with?  How about if there is a picture of the applicant in a bar?  And remember, most of the content that is on an applicant’s social media site is information that he or she is putting out there for everyone to see.  It may not actually be representative of the individual or his behavior.

If you then don’t hire the candidate, could there be a problem?  Possibly.

Using the Google Search Engine may also present problems, as results being returned to you might not be the person you are interested in.  Even unusual names can be duplicated in the vastness of the internet, so that your results may be totally inaccurate.  Then it is up to you to determine if the person is the correct one.  And accuracy is what you want in pre employment background checks, and you want to apply all your employment screening standards fairly and consistently.

Neither of these will provide information that is actually useful on its own in pre employment screening.  At best, it should be used only in addition to employee background checks conducted by a trusted background check company.

Use your background check company as a valued business partner helping you define an effective employment screening program that is applied fairly and consistently to all applicants.

To discuss your pre employment screening policies, contact us by calling 770-426-0547 or click here to email.

Pre Employment Screening – What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

Pre Employment Screening – What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

Using your pre employment screening program, reviewing resumes, telephone interviews, in person interviews, you have narrowed your choices down to two candidates for a management position who are more or less equal in experience, ability, and education.  Now it is time for the background check.

The position requires exposure to cash receipts, customer interaction, driving a personal vehicle on various company business, and access to proprietary company information.  In addition, you have specified that a college degree is preferred for this position.

Based on the requirements you have determined to check the following:

§ Criminal history.  A basic check for all your new hires.
§ A social trace to determine previous addresses for the applicant.
§ Employment Credit Report to determine fiscal responsibility.
§ Employment verifications for the previous five years.
§ Education verification for the highest degree attained.

One of the applicants has provided on the employment application that he has worked two jobs in the past five years.  The first he left for other employment, immediately worked for the second employer from whom he was recently downsized; he has lived in the same location for the past five years, and prior to that at a different address in the same town.  He claims a Master’s Degree in Education from East Podunk State Teacher’s College, a small school in Oregon.
He says he has a misdemeanor arrest for disorderly conduct that was dismissed because it was a case of mistaken identity.

You send your request for background checks over to your background check company, and two days later you learn that your applicant was arrested twice for writing bad checks and received probation for one charge and the other was dismissed.  He was also arrested and convicted for felony credit card fraud for which he is currently on probation.

The social trace reveals that he lived in an adjoining state for a year that he failed to mention.  A criminal background check in that jurisdiction shows an arrest and conviction for misdemeanor battery, resulting in a fine and ten days in jail.

The applicant’s credit report shows that he has two judgments for debt outstanding and most of his other accounts are in collections.  All credit cards are at their limit or above.

A verification of his previous employment indicates that he was terminated from his first job six months before he said he was, and he started the second job six months after he said he did, leaving a one-year gap.  His second employer also states that he is not eligible for rehire.

And finally, good old EPSTC is found to be an online only institution that is not accredited by any organization.  Degrees and diplomas are awarded for a $500 tuition fee and for submitting a short essay stating why a degree should be awarded for life experience.

Now, the applicants don’t look nearly so equal, as the other candidate checked out 100%.

Not all of this is likely to show up on one applicant, but variations of each of these examples have and do show up regularly in pre employment screening of candidates.

Use a comprehensive pre employment screening program including employee background checks to fine the answers to questions your applicant nay have reason not answer truthfully.

To find the answers to pre employment screening questions, call 770-426-0547 or click here.

Pre Employment Screening and Temporary Agencies

Pre Employment Screening and Staffing Companies

Pre employment screening poses quite a puzzle for temporary agency recruiters and those placing contract workers.  Economically, it would seem to make sense to do as little as possible in this area, and still be able to claim that a background check has been done.  Economics aside, providing a less than suitable candidate to a client can have far reaching consequences to the agency’s reputation and future business.  If an agency places a candidate that erupts in an episode of workplace violence or commits some criminal act such as theft or fraud, the agency’s reputation will certainly suffer.  Bad enough if it happens, but worse if the agency should have known by past behavior of the candidate that such actions might occur.  Conducting an adequate pre employment screening would go a long way in preventing illicit activity, as well as demonstrating due diligence in the placement of candidates.

Frequently, however, the client dictates to the agency the depth and scope of the background investigation, and some are far more stringent in their requirements than others.  When that happens, where does the agency go?  Hopefully, they have developed a relationship with a knowledgeable background check company that will partner with them to provide an acceptable program for the client company.

A background check company should provide advice and direction in developing the pre employment screening program for every position from laborers to CEO’s, without forcing a cookie cutter, same for everybody background report.

For help and advice with your pre employment screening program, call 770-426-0547 or click here.

Hire faster and smarter using a background check company for employment screening

If you are considering the use of a background check company for pre employment screening you are probably aware that there are powerful benefits in doing so.

Hiring managers and HR departments spend many hours weeding through the mountains of resumes and applications received for each open position. This process takes time that can cause other tasks to lag behind and good candidates to slip by to the competition in the meanwhile.

The latest technology in employment screening offered by any leading edge background check company allows you to enter some basic info on line at your convenience and submit for very fast results.  Getting theses results emailed to your inbox means you do not have to wait for your provider to get around to your file for processing and you can read them on your timetable.

Having your background check company perform pre employment screening before you get too far along in your hiring process will weed out some candidates cutting down on the face to face time spent with someone you may like personally in one brief meeting only to discover serious disqualifiers in the employment screening results later… and then it is back to the drawing board.

It is easier than ever to know who you are hiring and that what you think you see is what you are actually getting.  We would all like to trust our gut with candidates but the smart thing to do to protect your business and employees is contract your employment screening to a background check company. There are countless stories of ” I trusted…”

To learn about your employment screening options, visit: background check company or call 1-770-426-0547

Pre Employment Screening as a Deterrent

How much time could an employer save if undesirable or unqualified applicants just didn’t apply for open positions in the first place?

Letting all applicants know – up front – that your company conducts a pre employment background check on everyone as part of the applicant screening process is often enough to discourage potential applicants who have something to hide from applying.  Let them know that you do check relevant claims on the resume, such as previous employers, education and address verifications, as well as the information contained on the application, and that you do conduct these checks early in the hiring process.  If an applicant seeking a position with your company is aware that he will be facing scrutiny through a comprehensive background check, he may either decide to not pursue the position at all or to be more open and honest when describing his past and abilities, allowing a decision to reached more expeditiously.

The earlier in the process an applicant reveals any potentially adverse information, the more likely the potential employer will be to consider the relativity of the information to the position offered.  The attitude of the applicant is often, “If I can just talk to the hiring manager, I can explain this issue”, but this approach will usually not work if information has been withheld, falsified or embellished by the applicant.  However, if the applicant is honest up front, the chances are greater that the message will be heard.

The bottom line is that the sooner an under qualified candidate removes himself from the pool of potential hires, the more time that can be spent qualifying candidates who are   would truly be good fits for the open positions.  Similarly, the sooner a lesser qualified individual is removed from the process by a pre employment screening process, the better for all concerned.

For information on a personalized pre employment screening program for your company, call 770-426-0547 or click here.

The Criminal Background Check and the FCRA

A number of employers are unsure of the elements that comprise a criminal background check .

A background check company and the information it provides to the End User (the customer) is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and the FCRA, the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Under the FCRA, booth the background check company, also known as a Consumer Reporting Agency or CRA, and the customer have certain rules to follow.  Although many employers think the FCRA regulates only credit reporting, but that is far from the case.

As far as criminal records are concerned, the FCRA restricts reporting of any arrest that does not result in a conviction beyond seven years in the past.  Some examples of non-conviction are acquittals, nolle prossequi, withheld or deferred judgments, successfully completed first offender programs, dead dockets, and others.  Any arrest or disposition that occurs within the seven-year window may be reported to the end user.

Arrests that result in convictions, however, may be reported as far back as records are available.

But there are certain states that have reporting restrictions that are even more stringent than the Federal Government’s.  All End Users should check their local laws, or ask their background check company for the states that are more restrictive, and what restrictions apply.

A “rule of thumb” for many employment screening companies is to check the records back seven years only.  Be sure to ask your company what their policy is regarding years searched, and what you prefer for your pre employment background check program.

For further explanation and information regarding criminal background checks and the FCRA, click here, or call 770-426-0547.