How Long Should a Quality Employment Background Check Take?

 

The profitability of a business depends heavily on the productivity of its people. Every moment affects the bottom line, so it’s tempting to take the fast route in the hiring process. When it comes to employment background checks, however, a speedy screening is a disservice to your organization — especially when screening candidates for high-responsibility job positions. Compromising quality background checks for speed may cause you to miss valuable insights and hire a poor organizational fit who may even cause liabilities for your company.

So how long should you expect a quality employment background check to take?

The Purpose of a Background Check

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 72% of all employers in the U.S. conduct formal background checks on their candidates, which means that 28% of employers still do not. Background checks are an effective safeguard for the employer and their company. As a critical part of the hiring process, the employment background check is intended to:

  • Ensure workplace safety
  • Mitigate liability
  • Protect company reputation
  • Determine professional eligibility
  • Verify candidate claims of experience and qualificatio

The Average Timeframe for a Background Check

Determining these parameters for any given candidate requires a number of different types of checks. The length of time a background check will take depends on:

  • Which checks are conducted
  • The thoroughness of each check
  • Whether or not any concerns arise
  • Industry guideline

An employment background check, for example, for a government job that will grant a level of security clearance can take as long as a year. Meanwhile, the standard check for a basic office job may take as little as 24 business hours or as many as five business days. 

If the employer is using a third-party background check provider (and all should), a portion of this time frame is outside of their control. Background check providers or services that tout an “instant” turnaround time are generally pulling from incomplete or inaccurate databases; you should always opt for thoroughness over speediness.

Factors That Impact a Background Check Timeline

  • Credit checks: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that job applicants give written consent for their personal records to be pulled. Delays commonly happen when employers fail to acquire or delay conveying this signed authorization.
  • Educational/employment verifications: It also takes time to conduct verifications and personally contact applicable persons at prior schools and places of employment to receive the requested information.
  • Cross-checking records: Name confusion can be a setback with background checks, as name variations require agencies to cross-check information to make sure they have the right person. It’s crucial to complete this step, as mistaken identities have caused problems for all involved parties in the past and leave the employer and agency vulnerable to litigation

What’s Included in a Thorough Background Check?

Many employers use a third-party employment background check provider to conduct the different types of checks that make up the background check as a whole. A good deal of companies also divide the process of checking a candidate’s qualifications between a third-party provider and an in-house HR team. What are these checks and how does each one contribute to the potential length of the employment background check?

A thorough employment background check is one that deploys most or all of the following types of in-depth checks:

  1. Social Security Trace 
  2. Criminal Database 
  3. Sex Offender Registries 
  4. DMV Records 
  5. Drug Tests 
  6. Credit Score 
  7. Employment and Education History 
  8. Licensing and Certifications 
  9. Social Media

CareerBuilder reports that of the 72% of employers conducting background checks on candidates: 

  • 82% check the candidate’s criminal background
  • 62% manually confirm employment history
  • 60% specifically confirm candidate identity
  • 50% confirm education history and degrees attained
  • 44% check for illegal drug use
  • 38% confirm licensing where applicable
  • Only 29% actually review a candidate’s credit history.

Some employers don’t check all of these aspects and may choose to forgo the credit history or driving record check, for example, because they aren’t relevant to the job. In this case, the background check overall is still a thorough and reliable measure of the candidate’s ability to successfully meet the demands of a position.

Social Security Trace

Social Security traces are the tip of the spear when it comes to professional employee background checks. Social Security is typically the first thing an employer investigates, as a candidate’s Social Security number (SSN) reveals activities the candidate has been involved in, such as rental agreements, car loans, and other background checks. All of these activities are recorded under the SSN, giving the employer insight into where the candidate has lived, where they’ve previously worked, whether or not the SSN is attached to other aliases (such as former surnames), and if the SSN appears in criminal databases.

The turnaround time for a Social Security trace is immediate, and if there are no issues with the returned information, this step can be resolved quickly. If the candidate has had SSN issues before, further verification will be needed to find out if the person’s identity was ever stolen, if the SSN was connected to suspicious activity, and whether the candidate was honest about these from the beginning. These factors will help you determine the eligibility of a candidate.

Criminal Database

The majority (82%) of employers who reported conducting background checks in the aforementioned CareerBuilder survey focused heavily on criminal activity. While “ban-the-box” initiatives across the country seek to ensure the unbiased employability of individuals with criminal histories, there remain certain industries, such as childcare, home care, and caretaking of the elderly in which employers must be especially careful in their hires to protect clientele.

This second step in the background check process includes investigating sex offender registries and this step can be expected to take at least a day. It requires thoroughness and is too often the step in which critical information slips through the cracks because there is no single, catch-all criminal database that is complete or totally accurate.

Verifiers must comb through multiple local, national, and international databases (such as global watch lists, on occasion) to paint a complete picture of a candidate’s criminal history if one exists. Knowing where a candidate has lived is important to criminal searches in each locality. Not every database is automated, so retrieval requests must be processed through a human courthouse clerk. This can affect your turnaround time, but not as much as finding a red flag, which will require further investigation.

DMV Records and Drug Tests

Though this step typically takes up to three business days, employers want to know that their potential employees are trustworthy. If the job description involves piloting a vehicle, DMV records will reveal if the candidate has a history of DUIs, license suspensions, reckless endangerment, or even speeding tickets. This added step is further verification that the candidate is who they say they are.

Drug tests are often outsourced and have a prompt turnaround. These are especially important for high-risk positions in which the employee will be handling heavy machinery or operating vehicles.

Credit Score

Credit checks take only a few minutes, and the rules for conduct varies by state. Each state, however, must abide by the FCRA, which dictates that the candidate must provide written authorization for the check to be run and given the opportunity to contest or correct negative results.

Determining employment eligibility based on credit scores can be a controversial practice in some industries, but many employers do it as a precautionary measure if the job description grants access to large sums of money or highly sensitive materials and information, for example. Does the candidate have a gambling problem? Have they been bankrupt? Do they have a history of exorbitant debt and missed payments? Fraud and embezzlement charges may turn up on criminal records, but credit scores can sometimes provide valuable indicators of potentially risky behavior before it can occur at your organization.

Employment and Education History

Of the employers who reported making a bad hire in the CareerBuilder survey, at least 49% claimed that the new hire’s skills were misrepresented at the time of screening, a fact only discovered post-hire. Six years ago, a report indicated that 66% of employers surveyed had caught some form of falsehood on applicant resumes and applications. That’s up to 85% as of 2017.

With these statistics in mind, it’s clear to see why employers should take the time to verify employment, education history, licensure, and certification that the applicant claims to have attained. The length of time this step will take depends on the processes used and how quickly former supervisors, references, and academic offices can provide the necessary information. As long as no discrepancies are found, this type of check only takes one to three days.

Social Media

If you’ve ever done “online research” on a potential love interest, you know the value someone’s digital footprint can offer. It’s no different for employers, who use social media profiles to spot unsavory or dangerous traits in a prospective hire. The red flags employers look for include:

  • References to drug and alcohol abuse
  • Derogatory hate speech or harassment
  • Signs of bullying, discrimination, or violence
  • Poor grammar, spelling, or communication skills
  • Qualifications that do not match the applicant’s resume
  • Inappropriate photos or other sexually explicit materials
  • Revealing confidential information or unseemly talk about past places of work, coworkers, and/or customer

While social media checks may be considered an informal part of the screening process for now, it’s an increasingly common practice and should take only as long as your standard Google search.

Speed Up Background Checks With VICTIG Solutions

Thorough background checks require time, but there are technological solutions to speed up verification processes. VICTIG’s verification hotline sidesteps the time-wasting yet common “phone tag” problem by allowing contacts to call a hotline at their convenience rather than coordinate with the personal schedule of agency employees. Call us at (866) 933-1658 to learn more or get started.

Why Employment and Education Verifications Matter

Embellishments, falsifications, omissions, misleading information—a lie can go by many names and according to a CareerBuilder survey from 2014, at least 58% of employers found something dishonest on an applicant’s resume. Talk about putting your worst foot forward.

“Trust is very important in professional relationships,” stated a CareerBuilder representative, Rosemary Haefner, vice president of HR. “By lying on your resume, you breach that trust from the very outset.”

Of the 2,200 hiring managers and human resources professionals surveyed, more than half said they’d automatically disqualify a candidate after catching them in a lie, while the second largest group (40%) said it would depend on the lie. A small subset (7%) reported that it would depend on how much they liked the embellisher.

How Important is Honesty to You?

Which camp would you fall in? In other words, how important is it to you that the individuals vying for your open position are who they say they are and actually have the experience and education they claim to have?

For the large majority of employers, conducting employee background checks that include thorough employment and education verifications matter, and here’s why they should for you too.

The Pressure is On

One-third, or 33%, of CareerBuilder’s survey participants report observing an increase in resume falsifications after the recession and competition continues to be hot. Some people are going much too far in their attempts to stand out and their success in slipping through the nets of your hiring process can be a colossal headache for your hiring department at best and disastrous at worst. Either way, it is a serious waste of resources to hire and onboard an unfit employee only to find out later that they weren’t prepared to perform as advertised.

Which Industries Attract the Most Fibbers?

Short answer: all of them. But CareerBuilder reports that certain industries see more resumes containing falsified information than average. Any guesses? The top five are:

  1. Financial Services (73%)
  2. Leisure and Hospitality (71%)
  3. Information Technology (63%)
  4. Health Care Organizations with more than 50 employees (63% also)
  5. Retail (59%)

Which Resume Items are Falsified the Most?

If you fall into any of the above categories, perhaps you should be paying special attention to the ways you vet your candidates’ resumes. And as you’re doing that, take a microscope to the following claims, as they’re the ones most likely to contain the fool’s gold you’re looking for:

  • 57% of lies had to do with a skill set.
  • 55% pertained to responsibilities the candidate allegedly had on a previous job site.
  • 42% were fudged dates of previous employment.
  • 34% were instances where the fibbers had given themselves a prestigious job title from a past place of work.
  • 33% were claims of having actually-unacquired academic degrees.
  • 26% were lies about the past companies they worked for.
  • And finally, 18% of resume lies were related to accolades and awards the applicants claimed to have received.

Do Candidates Really Think They Can Get Away with It?

As part of their survey, CareerBuilder asked employers to share the most memorable, unusual, or outlandish lies they’d caught on a resume, and the responses were both amusing and eye-opening.

  • One applicant claimed his father’s work experience as his own. They shared the same name except for Sr. and Jr.
  • Another gave themselves the title of Assistant to the Prime Minister, but for a country that didn’t have a prime minister.
  • Someone made themselves an Olympic medalist! But it was unclear if they’d gone all in and claimed to win the gold. (Pro tip: If you’re going to lie about being an Olympic medalist, probably claim the bronze. Bronze is less exciting, so maybe they won’t check.)
  • Another applicant called themselves a construction supervisor on their resume, only for it to be revealed later that the project they’d “supervised” was the building of a single doghouse years before.
  • Someone didn’t do the math and claimed 25 years of experience. They were thirty-two years old.
  • One applicant name-dropped Tom Cruise and Madonna, claiming to have been the babysitter of their and other celebrities’ children over a period of twenty years.
  • Another claimed employment at three different jobs over the span of several years. After contacting each location, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked for less than a week at two and not at all for the third.
  • Someone actually reapplied for a position at a company that had just fired him. The same company was included on his resume, next to the claim that he had quit.
  • And finally, an applicant made the especially obvious blunder of applying twice for the same position, with two different work histories provided on each application.

It can be difficult to understand why a job seeker would take the risk of trying to mislead a potential employer. As the recession indicated, however, desperation can certainly be a factor, and for those hoping to land that coveted interview and position, Haefner gives this advice: “If you want to enhance your resume, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your resume doesn’t necessarily have to be a perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”

Best Practices for Catching Resume Fibbers in the Act

So now that you know what to look out for, how do you put it into “best” practice?

Best Practice #1: Ask the Right Questions

Conducting employment- and education-specific verifications during the employee background check is your best line of defense. Either you or your background screening company will need to ask the following questions of the applicant’s claimed previous employers:

  1. Start and end dates of the applicant’s employment.
  2. The job title the applicant had while employed.
  3. Their ending pay rate.
  4. Their reason for leaving.
  5. Whether or not the applicant would be eligible for re-hire with the company, and if not, the reasons why.

Word to the Wise

Keep in mind that the previous employer may be beholden to a disclosure policy that limits what they can say or the questions that can respond to candidly, if at all. The reason is the worry over legal reprisals if the applicant chooses to sue over a lost employment opportunity due to a previous employer’s comments.

Never fear, however, or change your questions, because what they don’t answer can be as telling as what they do. Make special notes of the “no comments” you receive as you work to complete the picture of your candidates’ qualifying characteristics. Also remember that the more previous employers you question in this way, the better the picture will be as you can begin identifying patterns of behavior.

Best Practice #2: Ensure Written or Verbal Consent to Contact Former Employers

Not every applicant will be unemployed at the time of their interest in your company, and if you contact their current employer without the applicant’s express consent, it can create an awkward situation for all that’s best avoided.

In these situations, it’s common to verify retroactively with said employer once a job offer has been made and appropriate notice of their exit has been given by the applicant.

Best Practice #3: Use a Search Engine to Validate the Provided Phone Numbers

Remember, the point of a thorough verification process is to avoid taking the provided information at face value. Believe it or not, it’s not unheard of for an applicant to provide the phone number of a friend or relation in place of authentic contact information for the company in question.

By independently validating the phone numbers of the applicant’s past employers with a quick search engine query or by checking the online Yellow Pages, you can ensure that you’re talking to someone qualified to give you the answers you’re looking for.

Best Practice #4: Be Consistent in the Thoroughness of Your Verifications for Each Applicant

The last thing you want to do (or deal with) as an equal-opportunity employer is to attract allegations of discrimination, so you must ensure that your hiring managers as well as your third-party employee screening provider is consistent in the way they conduct the employment and education verifications.

Decide beforehand the scope of the applicants’ work and education history that will be verified, meaning how far back you will go in terms of years and how many former employers you will contact. Different jobs within your company may warrant different parameters for the verifications, but the most important thing is to keep to the guidelines and refrain from conducting verifications on a person-by-person basis.

Some example guidelines are:

  1. Verifying all employers, no matter how many, over the past 3, 5, to 7 years.
  2. Verifying only the past 2 to 3 employers no matter how many years that stretches back.
  3. Verifying up to a certain number of employers or a certain amount of years, whichever comes first.

Whichever route you take, enforcing consistency across the board protects you, your company, and your applicants.

Best Practice #5: Be Diligent in Your Documentation of Verification Attempts

When you’re trying to get through a task list, nothing is more tedious than phone tag. VICTIG uses automated verification technology to curtail this specific time-waste, but as a general rule for verifications and for our final “best practice” tip, make sure that you are thoroughly documenting your attempts to contact an applicant’s former employers to avoid wasting time.

At least five (5) valid attempts is the norm per contact, where “valid” is specified by the person being contacted (a representative in the former employer’s human resources department, payroll and finance departments, or the business owner themselves) and the manner of the attempt:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Snail mail

Your documentation should include:

  • The date and time of day
  • The phone numbers tried
  • Emails sent
  • The names of people reached
  • The results of each attempt

By doing your due diligence, you’ll have something to show for your attempts even if you weren’t able to get the desired verification information.

The Value of Reference Interviews

Employment and education verifications are best paired with professional reference interviews. These may either corroborate or provide a conflicting picture of the candidate’s qualifications, character, performance abilities, accomplishments, and work ethic, all of which will be valuable in the deliberation portion of your hiring process.

But reference interviews should never stand alone. The resume or application can sometimes reveal more than it’s saying outright with the proper verifications. By probing into unexplained employment gaps, cross-checking the provided contact information, and questioning every qualification claim with a stringent verification process (be it a job title or an academic degree) you will not only uncover problematic work behaviors, but you’ll find out for yourself whatever embellishments, fabrications, falsifications, fibs, or outright lies the applicant has used to try to get your attention. And that’s worth knowing from the very beginning.

What Employers Need to Know About Conducting Background Checks

If you’re a U.S.-based employer, it’s likely that you routinely conduct background checks on your
prospective employees. According to a recent survey, at least 72% of all employers do so for
the purpose of protecting their companies. It’s an elective measure that you can use during the
hiring process or in the case of promoting or reassigning employees within your company, but
conducting an employee background check can do more than just offer you some peace of
mind. Sometimes, it can uncover serious red flags about a candidate that you wouldn’t have
caught otherwise.

Background checks conducted the right way can:

  • ensure workplace safety,
  • mitigate liability,
  • protect your company reputation,
  • determine the candidate’s professional eligibility, and
  • verify the candidate’s claims of experience and qualification.

But there’s a wrong way to investigate candidates, too, which can expose you to costly litigation
and fees. Understanding the federal laws and commissions that regulate the use of background
information for employment purposes will help you protect your organization from penalties
while allowing you to make informed, quality personnel decisions.

Employer and Candidate Rights

An employer has every right to require that their candidates undergo a background check, to ask direct questions about their qualifications in the interview process, and to make hiring decisions based on the information that they find. But they must do so while complying with certain federal, state, and municipal laws that are designed to protect applicants and current employees from discrimination.

These nondiscrimination laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) while the rights of anyone subjected to a third-party background check
(including prospective employees) are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Before Conducting a Background Check

Here’s what you need to know about complying with the EEOC and FCRA before you even begin the process of conducting a background check:

The EEOC

In the investigative period of the hiring process, you are free to delve into the individual’s work and education history, criminal record, financial history, and even their social media presence
and habits. A standard employee background check covers all of these areas, but the EEOC mandates that if you are going to conduct a background check on any applicant, you must do so
on every applicant.

Just as it is illegal under EEOC guidelines to make adverse hiring decisions based on an individual’s status within a protected class, it is illegal to only conduct background checks based
on the same information: a person’s race, age, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).

A few tips to protect yourself from accusations of discrimination at this stage, as outlined by the EEOC, are:

1. Have uniform policies in place that treat every candidate equally in the hiring process.

2. Don’t seek out or ask questions about a candidate’s genetic information. This information is further protected under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

3. Refrain from asking questions about a candidate’s medical history before making a conditional job offer, and even post-hire, unless there is objective evidence that the individual cannot safely perform their job for medical reasons.

The FCRA

The Fair Credit and Reporting Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and outlines specific procedures and protocols that must be followed when working with a credit reporting agency (CRA), which is a third-party company in the business of collecting background information. Most, if not all, employers will work with a third-party company to conduct a comprehensive background check on their candidates.

Before you even begin the process of conducting a check, the FCRA requires that you to do following:

1. Make clear to the applicant that the results of the background check may be used to inform your decision to hire them. The notice must be in writing and provided in a document separate from an application for employment. You can include additional information on the notice, but you don’t want to confuse or detract from the core purpose of the notice.

2. If the background check will include an “investigative report,” you must notify the applicant of their right to a clear description of the scope and nature of the investigation and then provide such a description. An investigative report is a more subjective exploration of a candidate’s character, reputation, personal traits, and lifestyle.

3. Procure the applicant’s written permission to conduct the background check. This request for permission can be included in the notice described in item 1, which informs the applicant about the background check. If you want to establish an ongoing understanding that a background check may be requested at any time during the person’s employment with your company, you must make sure it’s explicitly stated in the notice.

4. If you are working with a third-party background screening company or CRA, you must certify with them that you: 1) have gotten permission from the applicant to run the report, 2) have made sure you’re in compliance with FCRA requirements, and 3)will not misuse the information or discriminate against the individual.

Reviewing the Background Report

Now that you’ve received the information you’ve requested, here’s what you need to know as you allow what you’ve learned to influence your hiring decisions:

The EEOC

Again, regardless of the source of the information, federal law prohibits you from using the information to discriminate. As a rule of thumb you should always:

 

  • Judge everyone according to the same standards. This means that if you decide not to reject an applicant of a one ethnicity despite certain financial or criminal histories, you must also consider applicants of other ethnicities who have the same or similar histories.
  • Pay close attention to and revise if necessary hiring policies and practices within your company that have, in legal terms, a “disparate impact” on certain protected demographics, and which are not “job related and consistent with business necessity.” This means that you must be careful not to follow policies that base hiring decisions on issues that may be more prevalent among individuals of a certain race, color, national origin, sex, or religion, and among those who have a disability or are aged 40 and older, and which aren’t a fair indicator of whether or not the individual will be an effective and safe employee.
  • If the report reveals a problem that is connected to an individual’s disability, be open to allowing the individual to demonstrate their ability to perform the requirements of the job. Unless doing so results in significant difficulty for your organization both financially and operationally, the candidate should not be automatically disqualified based on negative information that was directly caused by their disability.

The FCRA and Adverse Action

If your findings prompt you to take adverse action (the decision to fire an employee or not to extend a job offer to an applicant), the FCRA has outlined a certain protocol that must be followed to protect yourself from penalties:

 

  • Prior to finalizing any adverse action, you must provide the employee or applicant with:
    • a copy of the consumer report that informed your decision
    • a copy of a document called “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” This document should have been made available to you through the screening company that provided the report.

 

By providing prior notice, a copy of the report, and informing them of their rights, the individual will have the chance to review, dispute, and/or explain the information in question. Should your decision remain unchanged, you must follow these steps:

 

  • After taking adverse action, you must provide the individual in writing, orally, or electronically with the following information:
    • that they were rejected for the position because of information revealed in the report
    • the contact information of the CRA or screening company that sold the report
    • that the third-party company is uninvolved in all hiring decisions and can’t provide further information on the adverse action
    • that they have 60 days to dispute the contents of the report and to request another report for free from the same third-party vendor

Choosing the Best Background Check Provider for Your Company

 

Every organization is different so the background check option you choose will depend on your needs as well as your resources. Luckily, there is variety in the background check industry and you’ll be able to choose between full-service options and ones that will allow you to conduct piecemeal searches largely on your own.

That kicker with both options is that anything you do MUST comply with FCRA and EEOC guidelines or you will be at risk of being accused of noncompliance or discrimination. Both can lead to costly litigation.

Full-service Background Checks

With this option, providers do all the heavy lifting, taking the information provided and conducting a host of verifications automatically or manually. Each individual check can take between two and five days to complete, but the resulting information is invaluable to hiring managers hoping to fill high level, crux positions within their companies.

These checks can/will include all or most of the following:

  • local and federal criminal histories
  • sex-offender status
  • SSN verifications and traces
  • Past employment verifications
  • Education verifications
  • Professional licensure verifications
  • Professional references
  • Credit report
  • Civil records
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Military records
  • Workers’ compensation histories
  • Health care sanctions
  • Address history

Though the costs and turnaround time associated with full-service background checks can seem high upfront, experts agree that the payoff is worth it. Mike Aitken of the Society for Human Resource Management agrees that when thoroughness is a requirement, it’s always best to go with professionals, stating, “Outside entities not only, in most cases, do electronic searchers; they also go right to the source. They actually do research and [personally] search the jurisdictions.”

Talk to the experts at VICTIG to learn more about what professional full-service background checks can do for you.

Understanding What Former Employers Can Say During Background Checks

Your applicants’ former employers may be constrained in what they can and can’t say to hiring managers about the applicant in question. Let’s talk about these constraints so that you’re are asking targeted questions that will produce the most valuable answers to you, all without treading into sticky legal territory.

What’s At Stake?

The rule of thumb during any hiring process and background check is to tread carefully around the topics of age, race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, etc. These are protected classes and any hiring decision based on these statuses, especially negative decisions, will land you into hot water very quickly. What’s at stake is your reputation and your assets.

But What is the Law?

Free speech is also protected, but it is not absolute, according to Paul Barada of Monster.com, and the consequences of what you choose to say should be carefully considered. Barada asserts that while there are no laws restricting what prospective employers can ask an applicant’s previous employers, the legal consequences of any hiring decisions based on those answers are very real.

How to Play it Safe

Some companies create internal policies (not laws) that limit what supervisors or colleagues can say about former employees. For example, they may be limited to stating only, or confirming the employee’s job title and dates of employment, but Barada states that there aren’t any legal consequences if they said more, as long as what they say is TRUE. And it is Truth, preferably documented, that will ultimately save your skins.

Barada states, “…as long as a former employer offers honestly held opinions about a former employee or states a documented fact about that person, there’s not much a former employee can do about it.”

Questions?

What has been your experience when talking to former employers? Do you find “no comment” policies valuable or informative? Share in the comments, and let us know if you have any questions about how to properly question former employers.

Backgrounds Checks and Private and Public School Systems

An elite boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut is facing severe scrutiny after it was revealed that at least twelve faculty members had been accused sexual abuse of children between the years of 1963 and 2010—accusations that had gone unreported—including one teacher who left the private school and went on to become a principal of public high school.

How could this happen? Where did their background checks go wrong?

Recent legislation for public schools in that locality required that applicants allow prospective employers to conduct thorough and specific checks with previous employers as to the applicants’ history of sexual misconduct, child abuse, or neglect. Applicants are required to list all the contact information of every employer whose jobs required contact with children. Additionally former employers are prohibited from making “exit deals,” according to the executive director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Douglas J. Lyons, in which it is agreed to withhold pertinent information regarding sexual abuse allegations from future employers.

There is now proposed legislation to extend these requirements to conduct thorough background checks to private schools. If said requirements had been in effect, the belief is that the alleged decades’ long history of sexual abuse either would not have happened or would have been properly addressed at the time and prevented from continuing.

Interviewing Previous Employers in Any Industry

When interrogating previous employers of applicants, it is important to remember that the former employer may be limited in the types of information they can give. For example, there is the concern that any negative feedback that results in your decision not to hire the applicant can be used against them if the applicant decides to litigate against the former employer. However, it is very important to interview former employers simply to protect yourself from making a bad hire. Thorough background checks aren’t complete without these types of checks.

Talk to us to learn more about how you can properly carry out checks with former employers.

Why Has New York City Nixed Salary History Questions During Hiring Process?

Recent legislation, passed April 5, 2017 by the New York City Council, has barred employers from using the salary history of job applicants to determine post-hire salary if the information is already known or established. Additionally, employers are prohibited from asking about salary history. Period.

The new legislation, according to Thomas Ahearn of ESRcheck.com, is about six months away from taking effect in NYC. What were the motivations for this legislation and how will it potentially set a precedent for the country? First let’s explore what constitutes salary history.

What is Salary History?

“Salary history” is exclusive to the applicant’s current and prior wage, benefits, and other compensation and doesn’t include objective measures of the applicant’s productivity (i.e., sales revenue, production reports, etc.). In other words, salary history deals with what the employee has historically earned from previous employers, not what they have earned for other employers.

Why Does this Legislation Exist?

According to the legislation itself, “When employers rely on salary histories to determine compensation, they perpetuate the gender wage gap. Adopting measures like this bill can reduce the likelihood that women will be prejudiced by prior salary levels and help break the cycle of gender pay inequity.”

Essentially, in the absence of salary history, new employers will hopefully be encouraged to establish starting salaries for female employees based on resources and market rates as opposed to perpetuating other precedents set before them by previous employers. The purpose is to combat wage discrimination.

How Does this Legislation Effect Country-Wide Policies?

Other such laws are waiting to take effect in Philadelphia and Massachusetts, with proponents hoping to see it expanded across the country.

Questions?

To learn more about appropriate employee verification questions for you area, contact VICTIG.

How to Cut Costs with Customized Background Checks

For every comprehensive background check, there is a list of necessary verifications to complete. While other companies will charge you for attempted verifications that are never completed, VICTIG’s process is fitted precisely to your needs—and that includes paying only for the verifications we complete.

This customization extends to the questions our verifiers ask on your behalf. While our job is to ensure that each question is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, protecting you from liability, we are also here to help you customize a suite of questions tailored to determine the unique qualifications of your ideal candidate. Ultimately, this customization with save you money by:

  • charging only for completed verifications
  • reducing turnover rate
  • improving employee retention
  • taking the hassle of the entire screening process out of your hands

Whether you’re an employer, property manager, or real estate agent, either you’ve personally experienced the hassle of conducting thorough employee screenings, you’ve delegated the responsibility to someone on staff, or you’ve outsourced the whole endeavor. You know that it takes time and persistence to make those calls and reach the appropriate parties to verify a candidate’s past. Doing all this in a timely matter takes technique, efficient processes, and experience—and VICTIG has all of the above.

Our Proven Methods

In addition to the unique advantage of customization, VICTIG utilizes Hotline MP3 Verification and a Pool System to eliminate the setbacks of traditional, inefficient verification processes.

Hotline MP3 Verification

This feature solves the dreaded “phone tag” dilemma. We don’t leave basic “callback messages.” Instead, our messages instruct the verification contact to call a specific, customized verification hotline open 24/7 and leave the verification information in a recording. The recording is converted to MP3 format, attached to your report and transcribed. This allows you to hear the answers to your custom questions for yourself if you choose, and to keep an audio record of the verification.

Pool System

The Pool System distributes verification responsibility across a team as opposed to assigning a single verifier as a contact. This erases the issue of delayed verifications in the event that a verifier is temporarily unavailable. Instead, VICTIG’s Pool System allows your verifications to be processed collaboratively in a team, ensuring the quickest turnaround times possible.

By streamlining a verification process that cuts out the inefficiencies of traditional screening practices, VICTIG creates a value-added service your organization needs in order to cut costs while building and retaining a quality team.

1 in 4 Employers Don’t Conduct Pre-employment Background Checks

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Photo courtesy of UnderConsideration.com

Recently, CareerBuilder conducted a survey and found that 28% of those surveyed did not conduct background checks on potential employees. According to PR Newswire, the national study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder and included a sample of 2,379 hiring managers and human resources professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

According to the same survey, 75% of employers said they have hired the wrong person for a position. On average, this costs the employer $17,000 per “bad hire”. According to Ben Goldberg, CEO of Aurico, “If an employee isn’t well-suited for the job or has a bad attitude, the time they spend not working could significantly impact your bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to make sure qualifications are substantiated.” He goes on to state, “It’s a hard cost to quantify, but it adds up when you consider the loss of employee morale, the additional supervision that employee needs, productivity loss for the organization, revenue that’s not being generated, and client relationships that could be turning sour as a result of bad impressions.”

The survey then broke down which reports are utilized by those who do background checks on potential employees:

  • Criminal background: 82%
  • Employment verification: 62%
  • Education verification: 50%
  • Illegal drug use: 44%
  • Professional license check: 38%
  • Credit check: 29%

The survey then digs a bit deeper, and breaks down the cost and overall effect a bad hire can have.

Finally, Goldberg sums up the importance of making a good hire. “As you are hiring candidates who represent you and act as an extension of your company, accurate and thorough background checks are vital. Especially because the cost of replacing an experienced worker who doesn’t work out can cost a decent amount of that individual’s salary.”

Everybody Lies: How Resume Fabrications Bleed into Society

With lying on resumes and job applications increasing with the job market (56% of employers polled in a CreerBuilder survey reported finding some sort of fabrication on applicants’ resumes), one wonders why the general population is so apt to lie and marvels at the impact these falsehoods have on society.

According to Psychology Today, people lie for a variety of reasons, but the root of fabrication seems to come from a lack of self-confidence and a fear of rejection. Job seekers embellish their resumes because they do not feel that their qualifications can stack up against the competition.

These embellishments range from misrepresenting job responsibilities to inventing titles and/or employers altogether. Creating such untruths is a bold move considering employers can verify every detail on a resume by conducting a pre-employment background screening, which involves a thorough check of professional and educational references. With third-party background check companies in place, this process is inexpensive and efficient.

While an employer can expose the liars in the workforce with a little due diligence, these lies extend beyond the paper on which a resume is written. If someone is willing to fabricate his or her history in order to acquire employment (especially when that information can be verified within minutes), he or she probably doesn’t have a problem perpetuating self-falsehoods outside of the workplace.

The lies we tell create an alternate reality that is more favorable to the people we’d like to be, and asking someone else to accept that reality, whether an employer or personal acquaintance, is manipulative and destructive. Being exactly who you say you are, even if you may not be the ideal candidate for a position, requires less work and projects personal integrity into your interactions with others. In contrast, embroidering your qualifications will eventually have an unraveling effect that can cause permanent damage to your personal and professional reputation. Job skills and experience can be built much easier than trust can be repaired.