A Hiring Manager’s New Year’s Resolutions for Background Checks
A Hiring Manager’s New Year’s Resolutions for Background Checks
Each year your local business networking group holds a great holiday get-together, and this year’s was no exception. Good food, a spectacular location overlooking the city lights, and a larger-then-usual turnout of managers from local service companies, restaurants, retailers and manufacturers.
Everyone seemed optimistic about the coming year – until you saw your old friend Larry. The two of you worked for the same company fifteen years ago, and now he’s HR manager at a large equipment company. It’d been a couple of years since you last got together, but the man standing by the punch bowl looked like a lot more time had passed.
Now, as you think back on the stories he told, you know it’s time to make some resolutions to get your own company’s hiring processes tuned-up and ready for 2016.
Review and Update Employment Applications
Larry and his company closely follow developments in employment law, and while his company is based in a state that has not banned the box, they looked at the EEOC’s 2012 guidance on the matter and decided to eliminate from their employment applications any questions about previous arrests and convictions. They updated their employment applications and included a statement reserving the company’s right to include consideration of criminal history in its final hiring decisions.
So Larry was blindsided when his company’s lawyer called him and asked why the company’s California service center was using an employment application that included questions about past arrests and convictions. It was a big deal. The box is banned in California, and the lawyer had been made aware of the situation when he got a letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The problem turned out to be clerical. Employees at the California service center had a stack of old employment applications that they were continuing to hand out. Along with drawing up a compliance plan for the state agency, Larry was also dressed-down by the company lawyer who found a half a dozen other serious problems with the company’s employment application materials.
You think back – it’s been maybe three years since the last time your company had a review to make certain its employment application package is compliant with the latest state and federal laws. And truth be told, you have no idea what employment application materials your company’s remote offices are using. It’s time to head-off some potential problems.
Verify Applicants’ Education and Employment History
One reason Larry had more gray hair – eighteen months ago his company hired an outgoing, articulate engineer for their new product design team. Along with an advanced degree from MIT, he’d spent eighteen months as a contractor for another company doing work directly related to his new position.
Two months on the job and the engineer was still struggling to come up to speed. His supervisor finally questioned him in detail about his technical education, and getting vague, evasive answers he asked Larry to check into the engineer’s past.
Not only had the engineer never attended MIT, best they could tell he’d never even earned a bachelor’s degree.And the contract work he listed on his resume? It never happened. The bad hire put the company’s new product plans behind schedule and entangled Larry in a round of finger-pointing with the engineer’s supervisor.
You’ve been thinking about this for some time. Finding good, qualified people has become more difficult since the economy has improved, meaning that the recovery from a bad hire can take months. There’s no good reason not to start having applicants education and employment history fully verified as part of the final decision-making process.
Use Credit Checks in More Applicant Reviews
Larry’s company found out the hard way why credit checks can be important. When a newly-hired trade show manager was caught submitting phony invoices from non-existent service providers, the resulting investigation uncovered a credit history of automotive re-possessions, unpaid credit cards and bankruptcy.While Larry’s company routinely looked at the credit history of applicants for financial positions, no one thought to extend that to individuals that supervised suppliers and service providers.
This is something you need to approach with care. It’s not fair and makes no sense to look at every applicant’s credit history. But there are lots of positions in your company in which an individual’s personal credit history could be a legitimate part of the hiring decision. You’ll have to write-up a policy, but more credit checks could avoid future problems.
Start Post-employment Screens
Adding to Larry’s headaches, a long-time company employee recently promoted to manufacturing manager was taken off the factory floor by the local police and arrested for simple assault and violation of a domestic restraining order. In the hubbub that followed, it was uncovered that the employee’s marital and personal problems included an arrest six months prior for driving under the influence and a steadily deteriorating credit history.
You know that instituting post-employment screens is a big deal. They’ll be pushback from some in your company who’ll claim it’s double jeopardy. But it’s routinely done in the trucking and airline industry, and the company has never had problem drug and alcohol testing employees suspected of being under the influence. Why shouldn’t some promotions be subject to the same screening processes as new hires?
You’ll need to determine under what circumstances your company will conduct post-employment screens, check to assure that your new guidelines are in compliance with state and federal law, and make sure that employee handbooks and agreements are updated to advise employees of the new policy and to secure advance consent.
Your passion is to find and hire great employees, but to do that you must navigate a constantly changing legal and business landscape. You know that in-depth background checks and verifications are one of the most effective ways to confirm a candidate’s qualifications. It’ll take work, but putting your resolutions into practice will demonstrably strengthen your company’s hiring processes and make certain only the very best candidates make it to the finish line.