Who is Behind that Resume?
by Jeff T. Collins

His resume is impeccable. He's very personable, and the hiring committee agrees that he will be a true asset to the firm. But here's what they don't know: He was convicted of embezzlement in 1992.

Unfortunately, scenarios just like this are being played out daily in boardrooms around the world. As idyllic as it sounds, taking people at face-value just doesn't work in the corporate arena. Drug use, violence, sexual harassment and theft are all making their way into the office and taking their toll on business and, equally important, employees.

Consider these facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  1. Of the 16.7 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2003, 12.4 million (74.3 percent) were employed either full- or part-time. Furthermore, research indicates that between 10 and 20 percent of the nation's workers who die on the job test positive for alcohol or other drugs.

  2. Homicide is the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States.

  3. Between 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men report having experienced intimidation by sexual harassment in the workplace.

These facts have made a thorough background check an integral part of the hiring process. To keep your company from being the next appalling lead story on the nightly news, it is essential to understand the importance of investing in quality pre-employment screening. Whether you are a small business or a Fortune 500 company, you need to know who is actually behind each resume. Employers should also feel confident about the results obtained when outsourcing their background check initiatives. It is the thoroughness of a background check that counts, not just getting one.

As corporate security and safety in the workplace continue to be of significance to employers, it is essential to discuss the importance of investing in quality pre-employment screening. Although anyone can check the Department of Motor Vehicles records, a thorough search extends well beyond such basics. Conducting a thorough check by hunting through court records at the county, state, and federal levels can be time-consuming and may yield incomplete or erroneous results. This is why many companies turn to professional screeners to meet their verification needs. A professional screening company has access to, and will conduct, a more timely and accurate investigation.

Besides avoiding occupational tragedy, what are the benefits of pre-employment screening? As a corporate executive, you are charged with the success of the financial ledger, including the creation of a productive work environment. By screening your potential hires in advance, you increase the likelihood that you will build an environment free of harassment and intimidation. Additionally, drug abuse is taking a heavy toll on the workplace. Recent studies indicate that roughly 3-5% of the employees in mid- to large-sized corporations are using illicit drugs on a daily basis. The resulting loss of productivity and quality add up to an estimated $30 billion loss annually. A thorough background check can lead to a more productive and efficient office.

All of which leads to the question, "What should a "thorough" screening include?"

Accuracy is clearly one of the most critical elements in a pre-employment screening. Newspapers are awash in stories of well-intentioned human resource directors who have denied employment to candidates based on their background check, only to find themselves the target of a costly lawsuit because that information was flawed. When negative information arises on a subject, it is imperative that the background screening company dig deeper to verify its validity to ensure a legitimate and effective search on each applicant. This often requires substantial groundwork. Single-database searches routinely overlook court records that are maintained only at the county level. If the applicant has moved frequently, this means that the investigator must track him or her through each of the counties where a previous address was given.

Timeliness is another critical component of pre-employment screening. With so many companies vying for exceptional workforce talent, an employer cannot afford to be held up by processing time. At any time during the hiring process, a potential candidate can receive a more attractive offer. Companies must have the ability to move swiftly to hire their ideal candidate before another company sweeps them off their feet.

Customizability is perhaps one of the least recognized, but most important, elements of a pre-employment screening. Many companies do not realize that generic, pre-packaged screening services do not meet the employer's exact needs. The extent of screening required for a line employee versus a corporate executive may differ substantively. Inefficiency resulting from unneeded services can greatly impact not only the financial aspect of the process but the timeliness as well. Having the option of selecting from a menu of services that can be customized to meet the needs of any given candidate can make the difference between reaching a quick, well-informed hiring decision and a slow, laborious one that comes just after the applicant has accepted another job offer.

Longevity is the hallmark of a quality company. The same is true of your pre-employment screener. A quality screener has a proven track record of accuracy and client satisfaction, allowing you to enjoy the validity of their investigative prowess.

References provide you with solid evidence that the screener truly delivers what is promised.

With reputation, employee morale and higher profit margins at stake, employers simply cannot afford to forgo the pre-employment screening process. A professional pre-employment screener can alleviate the fears and frustrations that so many corporations face when it comes to hiring. Finding the right partner to provide the screening can ensure you the quality employee you seek combined with the security and peace of mind you desire.

Below is a quick reference list of the points outlined above:

What to look for when hiring a background check provider:

  • Accurate - utilizes multiple information sources
  • Timely - two or three day turnaround time
  • Customizable - pay only for what you need
  • Length in industry - longevity equals experience
  • References - should be willing to provide

Benefits of conducting pre-employment screening:

  • Increased employee retention
  • Promotion of drug-free environment
  • Enhanced workplace safety
  • Decreased theft
  • Reduced liability

Thinking of not performing pre-employment screening?

Consider these consequences:

  • Theft
  • Workplace violence
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Sexual harassment claims
  • Time lost on recruiting and training

Jeff T. Collins is president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Integrated Screening Partners. A pioneer in the background screening industry, ISP was the first background screening company to go paperless in 1996. Continuing their innovative approach to the industry, ISP developed proprietary WorldPass™ Data Access software that allows access to their secure centralized data matrix from any remote office in the world, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. For additional information visit www.integratedscreening.com .

Many more articles in The HR Refresher in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2006 by Jeff T. Collins. All rights reserved.

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