With more jobs becoming available today, there is a major problem presenting itself for employers. Employees who are applying for jobs are lying about important aspects of their lives. In most cases, the truth may be a disqualifying factor. To avoid the hassle of hiring an unfit employee, it’s important to conduct a background check.
According to the ADP’s 2009 Hiring Index, 46% of the 1.7 million applicants reviewed had discrepancies in their resume’s employment, credentials, education or reference checks sections. In addition to this, 37% of applicants had traffic violations or convictions, and 6% had criminal charges within the past seven years. While not all applicants lie about convictions, others may fabricate details that make them look more appealing. This practice, which is commonly called resume padding, is a method used by people who aren’t qualified for a position to attempt to obtain it. It’s important to be able to identify both omissions and lies.
Understanding What Is in a Background Check. Not all background checks are the same. There are hundreds of online services that advertise cheap and fast background checks. However, these companies provide limited information, and often have limited access to databases that are not regularly updated. In order to get the most accurate and recent records it is best to use state resources.
How to Perform a Background Check. Usually, the office of the Highway Patrol is the best place to begin a search. Some jobs require a prospective employee to manage a budget and handle money. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to request a credit check also. It’s important to have the applicant’s SSN, date of birth and any last names or aliases they’ve used in the past 10 years. Be sure to have the applicant’s approval before performing a background check. Social media sites, such as Facebook, can also be beneficial when researching a potential employee. Keep in mind that people may make fictitious profiles and claims on social media sites, so this information shouldn’t replace what is available on a background check. However, sometimes discrepancies between resumes and social profiles are enough to raise a red flag against a potential employee.
Be specific in what information you decide to verify with a background check or credit check, and only perform those checks when there is a direct correlation with job duties. For example, don’t request a credit check for an employee who won’t be controlling a budget or working with cash. However, if an applicant will be caring for disabled individuals, it’s important to verify that they don’t have any past charges of abuse, assault or neglect. Always use common sense to determine which bits of information need to be verified.
Employer Reference Considerations. Verifying employment and inquiring about an applicant’s work ethic with a previous employer is important. However, it’s also important to make the reference call count. Never rely on the phone number provided by the applicant. Either look up the number through an online phone directory or use a reliable source to verify the number. Although it isn’t common, sometimes applicants provide erroneous phone numbers that may not belong to the previous employer they listed. In some cases, employees might provide a friend’s number instead. That friend will often provide a false reference to make the employee look good. Be sure to ask pointed and concise questions to the applicant’s previous employer. The following questions are good examples:
- What are the applicant’s strengths?
- How does the applicant deal with stress and conflict?
- In what ways could the applicant improve?
- How do the applicant’s skills with other team members rank?
The best time to perform a background check is after extending an offer for employment. However, be sure to tell the applicant that their employment with the company is contingent upon them passing a background check. It’s always a good idea to state upfront in the job posting that a background check will be performed for qualified applicants. This is usually effective in discouraging applicants who know they have a checkered past and intend to lie about it. Again, the most important thing to remember is to always obtain an applicant’s written permission before ordering a background or credit check for them.