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November 14, 2011

Why A Background Check May Miss Your Applicant's Skeletons

In today’s job market, competition is fierce. It is estimated that about half of the job seekers are embellishing their resumes in the hopes of landing a job. This practice could be an attempt to keep the skeletons in their closets hidden, and overlooking them could be detrimental to your company.

The prevalence of pre-employment screening practices may lull HR professionals into thinking they are immune to being negatively affected by new hires. The truth is that key pieces of the applicant’s background could still be overlooked.

Here are a few ways that those skeletons could be missed during the screening process.

You are looking in the wrong closet. Pre-employment screening works most effectively when the beginning information is accurate. An applicant who submits partial or incorrect information (fake job references, fraudulent degrees, phony references) on their resume and application can send the screening process down the wrong path. The result may be missing information that is integral to a good hiring decision.

You only check out one part of the closet. An incomplete screening process-only checking a national criminal database, not following up on references or education verifications, etc- may leave large holes in the applicant’s background check. Important negative information could be missed.

You don’t dig deep enough into the closet. Not following up and asking in depth questions about references, education and job history, or not checking far enough back into the applicant’s background may lead to not seeing the ‘big picture’ during the hiring process.

Making a comprehensive screening process effective should be top priority for businesses large and small. Here are a few do’s and don’t’s to make sure to uncover those skeletons:

Don’t assume that one search does it all. Remember, only searching one part of an applicant’s history leaves gaps that could be dangerous during the hiring process. Ex: the applicant may have no criminal history, but be faking his job history. The screening process should be multi-faceted.

DO a complete criminal check. Check every place that the applicant has lived, worked, or studied.

DO combine other verification checks. Make sure to order relevant employment and education verifications.

DO perform a social search. This will show you any addresses that are associated with the applicant’s social security number. This search may catch an address left off the application that the job seeker doesn’t want you knowing about.

DO make sure to search far enough back. Go back at least 7 years for criminal checks, and 2 years for employment checks.

DON’T try to do it yourself. Hire a reputable employment screening company to perform your background checks. Companies that are well established with hired private investigators on staff are your best choices. They will know how to ask the questions that dig for the full truth.

Being aware that many resumes are not 100% truthful is a good start toward arming yourself with the tools you need to make the best hiring decision. Make sure you have a pre-employment policy in place to protect your company from bad hires, turnover, decreased productivity, and theft.

~Susan McCullah is the Product Development Director for Data Facts, a 22 year old Memphis-based company that provides pre-employment screening solutions to companies nationwide.

Lisa May

Lisa May is the Executive Vice President for Data Facts.

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