Employment verification takes the padding out of r

When we think of pre-employment screening, employers often think of conducting background checks to turn up any criminal record a job applicant has or running a credit report to see if the potential hire is financially trustworthy. But the pre-employment screening process actually should start with something much simpler — verifying the information contained in the applicant’s résumé.

A lot has changed about the hiring process, but a résumé is still often the first thing you see regarding a potential employee. Yet would-be employees continue to pad their résumé with half-truths and outright lies, which makes employment verification a critical step in the hiring process.

As an employer, you need to do your homework on each and every applicant you are seriously considering, to make sure you’re getting someone with the depth of experience and education they purportedly have. The most common details on a résumé that are “enhanced” include: 

  1. Education. Doublecheck the fact that the applicant received the degree listed from the university listed. Also check to make sure the educational institution is an accredited college or university, not one of the many “diploma mills” out there.
  2. Length they’ve held a title. Sometimes an applicant will list an ending title beside the dates of their employment with a particular company, making it seem like they’ve been in a managerial or executive position for far longer than they have. Find out how long they held the most recent title and what responsibilities they had.
  3. Singular responsibility for group success. Applicants often enhance the contributions they made to a company’s bottom line or new initiative, regardless of how personally involved or responsible they were for that success.
  4. Salary. Make sure the current salary they list is what they’re actually earning, not what they think they’re worth.
  5. Computer skills. Employees know how critical it is to have certain computer-related skills, but listing a bunch of programs and applications in which they’re “proficient,” or saying that they’re “social media savvy” isn’t necessarily the case. Find out whether those specific programs and skills were used at their last job(s), or whether they just think you want them to be knowledgeable in those areas.

 

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More job applicants performing background checks on themselves

Job applicants conducting background checks on … themselves? According to some industry experts, the latest trend in pre-employment screening is something called the “self background check,” where the prospective employee conducts a background check on themselves just to see what kind of personal and professional information is available in the public domain.

Self background checks can enable a job applicant to see just how much information a prospective employer can find out about one’s criminal record, educational background and job experience, before handing in a resumé laced with half-truths or taking the leap from a current job to a new one that might not pan out. It’s along the same lines as obtaining one’s credit report to make sure there are no surprises before applying for a loan.

While we encourage this trend of job applicants making sure their public information is accurate, we advise employers to continue to conduct their own professional pre-employment screening on every prospective employee.

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Is the Use of a Credit Check Always Legal?

More and more employers are choosing to use credit checks on employees as part of their pre-employment screening process. The thought is that looking at a person’s credit report is a pretty good indicator of whether that person is fiscally responsible and, therefore, possesses at least some of the traits that make up a good solid employee.

But it’s important for an employer to tread lightly and be careful in regards to credit checks, as some laws regarding the use of credit checks are different from state to state. For instance, some states, including Oregon and Washington, only allow an employer to use a credit check on an employee if it’s truly applicable to the job, such as an accounting position. If you want to use a credit check on someone applying for a position in, say, sales or marketing, then a credit check would be illegal. And according to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, you always have to ask an applicant’s permission to run a credit check.

Credit checks can be a great resource to use when deciding who is right for a particular job. But keep in mind that laws are being changed and fine-tuned regarding their use in the private sector. Some state lawmakers and in Congress are mulling over bills that would limit the usage of credit checks for employers. So keep up on the laws that apply to your business in your state, and make sure the employment screening service you hire is on top of things too.

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What Happens if an Applicant’s Credit Report is Bad?

You really like John.  He’s been through three interviews, including an all-day one with the board members.  Everyone finds him to be the perfect candidate for the VP of Finance position.  But when you perform a comprehensive background check on him, you discover that his credit is terrible.  In fact, he’s been having problems for many years.

Now, the real test comes into play… should you hire him or not?

This is a scenario that plays out again and again in the corporate arena, especially because of the difficult economic conditions we’ve recently experienced in the United States.  And hiring managers everywhere are asking themselves the very pinpointed question:  “Should I take the chance?”

In the case of John, a VP of Finance with a bad financial history could be a huge problem.  However if you like him enough, you might want to offer him the opportunity to explain his poor credit history to you.  After all, you could discover that he has an explanation that is sound and reasonable.  (For instance, a medical emergency that his wife experienced which they paid for out-of-pocket.)

However, there is nothing wrong with protecting your corporate interests and letting an applicant go.  If you don’t think the background check is indicative of your ideal employee, it’s best to say goodbye than wait and wonder if you’ve made the correct decision.

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.

Doing a Background Check? Follow the Rules!

If you’re an employer and you’re planning to do a background check, it’s important for you to follow the rules so you remain legally compliant with the process.

Although you have the right to conduct background checks on any potential employees (or, in some cases, volunteers), you do have to adhere to guidelines depending upon federal and state requirements.

For instance, by law, you must obtain written authorization if you’re going to conduct a consumer report or credit report on a would-be worker.  You must also notify them in writing that you plan on doing so.  Verbally agreeing and “shaking on it” isn’t enough!

If you want to know more about staying compliant with background check laws and regulations, contact us today!

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  • The Simple Way to Choose the Background Screening You Need

    You know you need to background screen new employees… but how do you decide what kind of background screening someone like Angela in accounting needs versus what Dwight in sales needs?  (Any “Office” fans out there…?)

    At VerifyProtect, we’ve developed a tool to help you instantly decide which background screening package is right for you.  It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s accurate.  Oh, and it’s right here.

    All you have to do is answer a few questions, such as what type of position your new hire will have, whether or not the person will handle money and other various factors.  It’s the quickest, most reliable way to choose what you need to keep your company safe.

    Oh, and if you’re wondering… we would recommend at a bare minimum that Angela’s position be required to pass a multi-state criminal screening, pre-employment credit report, statewide criminal screening and previous employer verification.  For Dwight, we’d recommend a social security search/trace, multi-state criminal screening, previous employer verification and statewide criminal check.

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  • Warning to Job Seekers: Pay Your Bills!

    The job market has changed dramatically and that means job seekers have to pay more attention to the way they appear to potential employers than ever before.  They have to dress smarter, have more substantial resumes, be more flexible with employment options and, on top of everything else, keep their credit scores as high as possible.

    That last item seems to be difficult for many job hunters, as they’re struggling to pay their bills.  But, like it or not, it’s critical for employee wanna-bes to keep up with their creditors lest they lose a coveted position because of a shoddy credit report.

    Of course, some employees a) don’t know this fact and/or b) don’t care about it.  But they should make no mistake — more and more companies are including credit reports as part of their standard new hire background check procedures.

    So what should job hunters do?  First, they can get a copy of their credit scores and reports (for free) to make sure they’re in order.  Next, if there are any red flags, they can tell a potential employer upfront so the employer isn’t surprised by the credit report.  Finally, they can aim to increase their credit score by paying bills on time or even working with a financial counselor who can assist them in upping their report.

    Above all else, though, job seekers need to realize that how they handle their finances at home could greatly affect whether or not they’ll be offered a job.

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  • What Does a Bad Credit Report Mean?

    Employers are increasingly conducting credit checks on potential new hires, but not all of them understand how to interpret the data.  After all, a credit check report doesn’t equate to simply receiving a credit score; in fact, it’s much more comprehensive… and that can make evaluating it complicated.

    So what does it mean if a potential employee’s background check comes back clean but his/her credit check comes back with “black marks” (figuratively speaking, of course)? 

    Here, we’ll look at a quick way to determine how the credit check data potentially affects your decision:

    1.  Typically, if a person is to have any financial responsibility, you want someone with a squeaky-clean credit check report.  If he/she cannot handle his/her own finances, do you want him/her to handle your company’s?

    2.  If you see that a person owes a great deal of money and will be in a position where he/she can have easy access to your business’s cash, you might want to think twice about making a job offer.  Many cases of embezzlement occur because the embezzler is deeply in dept.

    3.  If you notice that the individual consistently makes numerous late payments (or skips payments), it could be a sign that he/she isn’t dependable.  While it’s not necessarily a total deal-breaker (especially if the late payments were five years ago), you do have to ask yourself if he/she will be late with other items, such as projects and assignments.

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  • Credit Report Checks Causing California Conundrum

    There was a recent article from DailyBreeze.com in Los Angeles that really brought to the forefront the fact that credit report checks are beginning to cause a stir between potential employees and employers.

    In the story, the author emphasized one woman’s case (which admittedly was a sad situation) where a serious amount of debt from medical bills was ostensibly* keeping her from being hired.  Basically, she felt that when employers saw that she owed a great deal, they became gun shy. 

    (*The word “ostensibly” is used here because the story didn’t give equal time to the people for whom she applied or worked on a temporary basis.  Perhaps they had other reasons for not offering her full-time employment.  We’ll probably never know.)

    As a political response to cases such as the one aforementioned, some California lawmakers are attempting to introduce new laws to limit how employers can use credit report checks in their hiring processes. 

    As the article notes:

    Under a bill proposed by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, employers could check the credit of applicants only for law enforcement and managerial slots – as well as positions that handle large amounts of cash, jewelry or valuables, or deal with sensitive financial information.

    Of course, corporations aren’t taking this lying down, as evidenced by this paragraph:

    Business lobbyist groups that oppose the bill have argued that pre-employment credit checks – currently legal in California when job applicants give consent – can help weed out financially irresponsible potential employees by uncovering liens and bankruptcies.

    There’s no telling which way this bill will go, but it’s clearly going to have an impact if and when it’s passed.  And that impact will be felt on both sides of the coin. 

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