The Liar, Cheater, or Thief: Which One Did You Hire Today?

Not that many years ago, a business could post a “Help Wanted” sign in the window and hire someone on the spot if they had the desired qualifications. Sadly, those days are ancient history. In this era of identity theft, data breaches, embezzlement, and workplace violence, it’s become absolutely essential to perform thorough background checks on any potential new employees. Insurance providers frequently offer a discount to companies who conduct background checks as a routine part of the hiring process.

In their most basic sense, pre-screening or “background checks” serve to verify the identity and background of a potential employee. They include a host of information, including criminal records, academic records, credit records, driving records, and workers’ compensation history. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 96 percent of companies now conduct background checks on new hires, up from 66 percent in 1996. There are lots of good reasons for that increase. In today’s economy, companies can’t afford to make a bad hire. Recruiting and training a new employee is an expensive proposition and one which shouldn’t be undertaken on a whim.

However, background checks do far more than cut down on bad hiring decisions, they also protect your company and minimize the risk of lawsuits. They are of particular importance when it comes to those employees who come into direct contact with customers, especially in sensitive positions like daycare or healthcare workers. An employer may be held liable if such an employee does harm to a customer. Thus, it’s even more critical that a thorough background check be undertaken to uncover if a potential new employee has a history of wrongdoing.

With so much on the line, it’s crucial to select a trustworthy background screening company, as that will ensure that you are receiving accurate, complete information. A professional background screening company will also help you navigate legal requirements, including federal and state regulations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Working with a trusted partner may also give you limited legal immunity if you make a hiring decision based on what turns out to be inaccurate information. Thus, it’s crucial to do proper due diligence upfront. Ask trusted friends and colleagues whose services they have employed – and request to speak with past customers of any potential vendors. Do a quick Internet search to learn what others are saying about any companies you have in your radar.

However, you should resist the temptation to simply “Google” a potential employee and trust that you’ve learned everything about them – or that everything you’ve found is accurate. It’s all too easy to enter false information about yourself – or others. Also, be aware that “instant” public record searches available throughout the Internet by dozens of different vendors are not appropriate sources of information for employee background checks. Such databases have not been fact-checked or updated and are notoriously unreliable.

Therefore, it can’t be stressed enough that Internet searches are not trustworthy and cannot replace a formal, professional pre-employment background check. That said, a quick web search can supplement a formal background check, as a review of an individual’s social networking profiles or blog posts may provide valuable insight into what kind of person they are. You just may discover they are exactly what your business needs.

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