Common Background Screening Mistakes

More and more employers are using background screening to help them find just the right person to fill their vacancies, but how can they be sure their check is giving them exactly what they need? What are some common background check mistakes?

First, it’s important that employers ensure they’re in compliance with federal and state laws.

In New York, for example, employers must comply with both the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act – the state act is stricter in some areas. While both acts seem to apply only to credit reports, they actually cover much a wide range of reports, and if the report vendor is from another state, there is no reason to assume they’re in compliance with your state’s laws.

For best results, start a pre-employment background screening as soon as possible, so you aren’t left with a vacancy – or worse, an unqualified employee – when the report arrives.

Another legal issue arises when a company doesn’t have a clear set of written background screening guidelines that are consistently applied to all applicants. Performing checks on some applicants and not on others opens employers to claims of discrimination.

And remember that it’s best to have applicants sign a separate form assenting to any background checks rather than a single line on the employment application form, and give the applicants sufficient time to read through the information.

Finally, employers often perform excessive screening for lower-level employees. There’s no need to pay for an education verification or deep credit report on a low-level or temporary employee – instead focus your resources where they’ll do the most good for your company.

Background checks can be a valuable tool in any employer’s arsenal, and keeping these tips in mind will give you the right information to recruit the right candidate.

Background Checking Takes Guesswork Out of Hiring Process

If you’ve ever had to interview a job candidate, you know that there can be a ton of guesswork involved for both parties.  But when you add background checking to the mix, you take away much of that guesswork, replacing it with solid facts.

What elements of guesswork does background checking candidates for positions at your company help to remove?

  1. Fear of Hiring Someone with a Criminal Past. 
  2. Worry That There is Something Wrong on Resume That You’re Not Catching.
  3. Concern That You’ll Be Opening the Doors to Future Lawsuits.
  4. Fear of Hiring the “Wrong” Person for the Job.
  5. Worry That the Person You’re Interviewing isn’t Being Truthful.

Systematic, comprehensive background checking on all job candidates will make your job much easier.  Rather than relying on your “gut”, you’ll have specific information that will enable you to make hiring decisions about which you can feel wholly comfortable. 

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  • Who Is Background Checking Temporary Workers?

    It’s no secret that in today’s cyclical business environment, companies often find themselves hiring temporary workers.  Those types of workers include:

    • Seasonal staff members;
    • Persons hired to fill short-term leave (e.g., maternity leave) absences;
    • Individuals brought on to fulfill a special project (e.g., consultants, outsourced graphic designers);
    • People who can fill a position until a permanent worker is found; and
    • Other temporary personnel as needed.

    So the question becomes:  Who is background checking those temporary persons being brought into the organization?

    In many cases, the answer is “no one”, which is not only unfortunate, but can result in serious problems.

    Consider the case of a temporary clerk who is hired by a company that expects to need some extra hands during October, November and December.  If the clerk never undergoes background checking procedures, should anyone be surprised when she turns out to have a less-than-honorable work ethic when it comes to “helping herself” to the till?

    Sadly, this happens frequently across the United States and it’s a relatively inexpensive and fast problem to fix.  Background checks through reputable companies like VerifyProtect are done quickly, affordably and conveniently.  And they take a lot of the risk out of hiring people for short-term needs.

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  • 5 Reasons Employers Don’t Background Screen, part two

    Welcome back to our series on the top excuses why employers aren’t always background screening

    If you missed part one of our series, check it out here!

    Below are the final 2 of the top 5 reasons organizations aren’t regularly background screening new employees…

    (False) Reason #4:  Background Screening Is Difficult

    We really hear this a lot.  That’s because many businesses think it’s up to them to do the background screening legwork. 

    While it’s true that they need to do some of the paperwork, we’ve taken the brunt of the tough stuff off their shoulders.  That way, they can focus on what they need to do and get their background screening results back fast.

    (False) Reason #5:  Background Screening Is Only for Big Companies

    Oh, boy.  This is a huge fallacy that we’d like to put to rest right now.

    Background checks are for every company of every size.  Period.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a teeny tiny business or a large one.  Having someone on staff who hasn’t been properly (and thoroughly) background screened is dangerous.

    So is there any reason not to background check?  We don’t think so.  And believe us — we’ve seen it all! 

    To protect yourself, you need to be careful about who you hire.  And background screening should always be part of the equation.

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  • 5 Reasons Employers Don’t Background Screen, part one

    With all the hubbub these days about protecting our companies, our client, our clients’ information, etc., it’s interesting (and a bit shocking) to realize that many, many organizations don’t background screen new hires.

    Below are the top 5 reasons (you could even say “excuses”) that we hear when we ask, “Why don’t you background screen on a regular basis?”  We’ve included our two cents, too…

    (False) Reason #1:  Background Screening Is Expensive

    This seems to be a “catch-all” statement that corporations make when they don’t want to do something.  “It’s expensive,” they say.  Then they go out and spend their monies on wooing a client with a $200 lunch. 

    Now, there’s no reason not to woo that client; hey, that makes great business sense if a sale seems likely.  So why don’t they use that same mentality to apply to background screening?  After all, investing in new hires is very much like investing in potential clientele.

    (False) Reason #2:  Background Screening Will Cause Us to Lose Applicants

    Okay, now this could be true… but it’s usually not a problem. 

    The people who would NOT apply because they know a company performs background checks are often the same individuals who would not pass a background screening.  Thus, the fact that they know what’s going to happen encourages them to self-select.

    (False) Reason #3:  Background Screening Doesn’t Tell Us Everything

    Okay… there’s some truth to this.  Background screening isn’t 100% infallible.  Sometimes, items can slip through the cracks… but it’s not very likely and we try as hard as we can to NEVER allow this to happen.  (And we have a terrific track record to back us up on this!)  

    Besides, is that a reason to not do it at all?  It’s like saying that you shouldn’t bother to take a shower every day because you’re just going to get dirty…  It might hold a grain of truth, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    In part two of our series on 5 Reasons Employers Don’t Background Screen, we’ll tackle the last two statements we often hear…

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  • Both Employees AND Employers Benefit from Background Screening

    There are some people who erroneously believe that background screening is somehow a “pain” or “irritation” for employees.  But that truly isn’t the case, especially when it comes to the best workers. 

    Below are five reasons that good potential hirees love background checks as much as employers do:

    1.  If an applicant has kept a great record, he or she will have nothing to hide.  And that means that there will be no surprises or secrets.

    2.  An applicant will know that the pool of possible candidates may shrink thanks to background screening measures.

    3.  A job candidate will know that the employer is serious about keeping the workplace safe and secure.

    4.  A potential employee will feel that the company is investing in his or her future with the organization; after all, background screening does involve an investment of money and time.

    5.  A great candidate will always love to have someone check him or her out because a clean record definitely reiterates how devoted he or she is to being a straight-up, honest worker.

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  • Changing Economic Conditions Warrant Background Checks on Everyone

    It used to be pretty accepted that companies didn’t need to perform background checks on every employee.  Instead, they just chose the ones that had to work with sensitive materials.  But all that’s changed.

    Today’s economic conditions absolutely warrant background checks for every single new hire.  From the worker in the plant to the CFO in the boardroom, background checks are needed to protect internal and external information.

    Of course, numerous employers know this instinctively but do not want to spend a) time or b) money to conduct background checks.  Some just choose to go with a “gut instinct” that (they hope) is right.

    Yet what would happen if your new hire…

    → Stole from a coworker.

    → Was a convicted felon and colleagues found out and were horrified.

    → Used customer data for nefarious purposes.

    → Was a sexual offender and ended up having access to minors.

    → Took money from the organization.

    → Sold secure information for his/her own profit.

    Could your company survive the media circus (complete with bad public feelings) that would ensue?  It’s doubtful, especially if you’re a small to mid-sized entity.

    Be smart and protect your own interests.  Conduct background checks before offering any job to anyone.

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  • Background Checks Should Be a Part of the Solution…

    If you’re an employer who conducts background checks on all new personnel, congratulations!  You’ve taken the first step to ensuring that you’re hiring decent individuals.  But don’t rely on background checks alone.  A comprehensive hiring strategy must be a part of any company’s plan for success.

    What else should you include in your interviewing process in addition to background checks

    • Always check references.  You can do this yourself or hire a third party provider to do it for you.
    • Always check past employers.  Again, this is something that can be handled in or out of house.
    • Establish protocols for interviews.  This will set a tone for how all your new hires are interviewed.
    • Train any interviewers.  Don’t assume that a good employee will be a good interviewer.  Get him or her training.
    • Don’t allow anyone to hire on “gut instincts”.  Sometimes, your gut can be wrong… and that can cost you money, time and, unfortunately, your reputation.
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  • Does Your Company Use Hiring Checklists?

    One of the best ways to ensure that the hiring process is streamlined is to have a system in place whereby every applicant search is handled in the same manner.  Not only does this help weed out weak candidates, but it also allows you to have more control over what’s being said and done in terms of the hunt for new employees.

    Four of the biggest advantages to having hiring checklists that explain the hiring process at your company include:

    • All phases of the hiring process are managed without hassles.  When something’s written down, it’s easy to follow.  And if someone doesn’t follow the system, it’s evident very early in the process and can be remedied.
    • Discrimination is avoided.  If all job applicants are being treated in an equal manner, there is less likelihood that a discrimination charge will stick.
    • Information can be protected.  If you have a system, you can put into place password protected documents to make certain that data is kept under wraps.
    • All potential hire information can be kept in a single file.  With a system in place, all the data can be located in one spot, making future references to that potential hire a breeze to check out.

    Remember that having a hiring process in place that uses specific checklists is one of the best ways to ensure that every hiring decision is the best one.

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  • 5 Low-Cost Ways to Ensure Your Hiring Processes are Solid

    Are your hiring processes up to par?If you haven’t been happy with the way your company finds, screens and retains new employees, try these 5 low-cost ways to ensure that you’re getting the right people.

    1. Shorten Your Hiring Cycle

    Studies have shown that, for certain jobs (such as those in sales and customer service), the longer your hiring cycle, the lower your chances of snagging the best people for the job. This doesn’t mean you should rush through your hiring processes, of course, but if you have unnecessary lag time, it’s a good idea to identify and eliminate it.

    2. Pick Background Screening Packages That Make Sense

    It doesn’t make sense for you to background screen every position the exact same way. If you’re currently performing the same checks on every new person that walks through the door, you’re spending money needlessly. (FYI – Click here for a fast way to determine what kind of background screening each employee needs.)

    3. Teach Your Managers How to Interview

    Can this be stressed enough? It’s critical that everyone in your company understand the most efficient ways to determine if a job candidate is worth pursuing. In fact, you may even want to hold a class on how to read a resume (or CV). Don’t assume that managers have these skills already; many of them have never had any education in this area.

    4. Ask Current Employees about Their Hiring Experience with Your Company

    Check around and see how current employees felt about the way they were hired by your organization. Did they feel it was professionally handled? Were they bothered by any aspect of it? What would they suggest changing? (You may want to position this as an anonymous questionnaire to elicit genuine responses.)

    5. Put a System (or Systems) into Place

    If you don’t have a hiring system in place, it’s time to start. Your hiring system doesn’t have to be complicated, either. It’s just a step-by-step explanation of how you go about getting from the “we’re looking for a person” phase to the “welcome aboard” phase.

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