In the tug of war of today’s talents, leaders need to prioritize not only on how to fill up vacant positions but also how to attract top-notch candidates for the job roles. Therefore when it comes hiring the best talent for an organization, it is quite important for the HR managers to go deeper than what bare eyes reveal. Passing thorough background checks clean should be an integral practice during the recruitment process more emphasized than appealing degrees and convincing physical appearance. However, in the constant pressure of winning the rat race and standing out from the crowd, job seekers are tempted to take a shortcut by lying on their resumes. It can be anything like fabricating dates of employment or false exaggeration of skill set. Hiring such candidates who start off with a lie might be a high risk for business in future. Given the high cost of the wrong hire, it is crucial for employers to avoid even the slightest discrepancy of information.
According to a new CareerBuilder survey, as much as 72 per cent of employers conduct a background check for candidates before they are hired. Conducting a background check is thus a great way to safeguard your organization from hiring wrong candidates thereby reduce the cost of the wrong hire. Nevertheless, owing to some common myths, some employers are reluctant to perform background screening. If you belong to this group of people, the following truths about employment background checks will help you hire right:
#Myth 1: A Criminal Record Means No Hire
This is a common misconception that both employers and job seekers believe in. Most of the recruiters think that if a job seeker has a criminal record, he is not fit for hiring and the same is believed by job seekers as well. The reality is seldom black and white. For starters, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) places certain restrictions on when criminal records can be used to deny employment. One EEOC requirement is that the nature of conviction must directly affect the nature of the job. For instance, a DUI may disqualify someone applying to be school driver, but it cannot be grounds for disqualifying a would-be accountant.
Also, as most employers have realized, background checks sometimes return false results. Therefore, rushing to make decisions can lead to lawsuits. As such, most employers now offer applicants an opportunity to clarify their criminal records. In some cases, such clarification can tilt the tide in the applicant’s favor. The bottom line is that a criminal record doesn’t automatically mean No Hire.
#Myth 2: It is too expensive an investment for companies to carry out background screening on all their applicants.
One common misconception is that the background screening processes are too expensive an investment for the company. Spending on background screens is seen as incurring additional expenses that can be easily reduced. However, think of it from another perspective. Would you rather spend the money on ensuring that you have the perfect hire before recruiting, or spend more on managing a PR disaster if (or when) an employee is found out to have committed credential fraud? Take for example Telstra who have received much flak from the recent sacking of CTO Vish Nandall due to credential fraudulence. Because of one employee’s mistakes, it cast the entire company in a bad light, even resulting in reputational damage for the organization. Administering a background check is well worth the investment to prevent future credential fraudulence and more importantly, protect your company’s reputation – reputational damage is a far more costly consequence than putting a background screening policy in place.
#Myth 3: Applicants Are Powerless
Most job applicants believe that they are powerless when it comes to background checks. They think that employers hold all the cards. In fact, some employers also think those job seekers have are powerless. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives job applicants a lot of power. For instance, a background check cannot be carried out without the applicant’s permission.
Also, FCRA mandates that, when the background check leads to a “no hire” decision, the employer is supposed to explain to the job applicant in writing, why the decision was taken. An applicant is also entitled to a copy of the background report, and can even challenge the contents. The EEOC places restrictions when criminal background checks can be used during the hiring process. Many state “Ban the Box” laws place similar restrictions. A job seeker is allowed to sue any employer who conducts background checks outside the bounds of the law. Basically, job seekers aren’t as powerless as they imagine.
#Myth 4: All Background Checks are the same
This perhaps one of the biggest background screening myths is that they are all the same. In reality, there are many sub-par background screening firms that provide employers with inadequate or inaccurate information. This leads to poor hiring decisions, resulting in poor employees. Make sure the background screening provider you choose is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). And, ensure all candidates are informed about background check requirements and supported throughout the process.
#Myth 5: Lying In Résumé Can Cover Up Background Information
Some job applicants think that they can throw background screeners off-track by lying in their résumés. This is common among those who had not-so-good experiences with previous employers. It is also common applicants those which criminal records.
This approach may actually work if the background check is carried out by a sloppy vendor. However, any decent vendor will unveil the truth, and the applicant will be guaranteed not to get hired. The reason for this is simple: some employers can give even someone with a criminal record a benefit of the doubt. Almost no employer can even consider hiring someone who lied in their résumé.
#Myth 6: Social Media Profiles Are Off-Limits For Background Checks
This is a common misconception especially among job applicants with unsavory online habits. They assume that recruiters won’t check out their social media profiles. Although this may have been true in the past, recruiters are now sensitive about employees’ online behavior. They know this can impact their brand in one way or another.
Currently, most background checks focus on criminal records, education or previous employment. However, some recruiters now ask background vendors to comb through applicants’ social media profiles. Any questionable behavior such as abusive or profane posts and indecent pictures or videos can cause them to reconsider their hiring decisions.
#Myth 7: Background screening only involves checking past company references
When tasked to carry out a background screening, it is usually assumed that this would involve calling up an applicant’s past employers to ascertain whether the potential hire has indeed worked there, and in some cases, to inquire about the said hire’s work performance. However, background screening in its entirety involves much more than a few phone calls to past employers. Depending on the nature and scope of the company, it involves carrying out identity checks, validating educational and work qualifications, past criminal records, and more from various sources. While this sounds like a lot of work, this is where engaging background screening vendors with a more comprehensive database and the relevant expertise can come in handy to take the weight off the HR department’s shoulders.
cFIRST Think Tank is the team that researches and produces content for cFirst. This team comprises of seasoned content and digital design professionals and background screening industry veterans. Together we produce insightful blogs, infographics and reports meant for HR and background screening professionals.