Background Screening: Clear Up Your 'Unknowns'

In business, there are “knowns” and “unknowns.” Knowns can be good or bad, but in either case they help you assess, plan ahead and act accordingly. Unknowns afford no such luxury. They represent blind spots, risk areas – and they can lead your company into trouble.

Of particular concern is when unknowns exist among your own workforce – or among your prospective hires. Anything from a padded résumé to a carefully concealed criminal record can lead to unforeseen trouble down the road. The threat is real, especially in a competitive job market where some individuals may stretch the truth to gain an unfair hiring advantage – or to win a position of trust they don’t deserve.

Background screening, also referred to as employment or pre-employment screening, can help provide a robust layer of protection from unknown risk factors. When many people think of “background screening,” they still consider just a criminal background check. However, employees are often surprised by the level of detail that can be legally secured on an individual.

For companies that don’t have a background screening policy in place, now is the time to reach out to a professional firm for help. Some of the questions that professional screeners may ask include:

  • What is the level of screening that is best needed for the organization?
  • Is the company international, and will it be filling positions in various countries or regions?
  • Will screening apply only to prospective new hires, or will it also be conducted on existing employees?

In this way, an expert screening service can begin to tailor a program to the needs of the company. In most cases, the range of screening should include the following:

  • Identity: Some job candidates will actually fabricate a new identity, especially if they have something to hide. Proper screening can verify addresses, phone numbers and other identifying information to confirm that they are who they claim to be.
  • Employment: Screening will verify past employers, locations of past employment, dates employed, salary levels, reasons for leaving, position titles, gaps in employment history and pertinent contact information.
  • Education: As we noted in William's case, education verification is needed to confirm school grades, degrees and professional qualifications.
  • Criminal history: International criminal records searches are critically important, and should include any convictions for the applicant in the requested jurisdictions.
  • Character references: Sometimes overlooked is the need to follow-up on references provided by the applicant.
  • Credit history: As permitted by local laws, financial and credit history should be reviewed, as fraud statistics have shown financial distress to be a key red flag for fraudulent behavior.

Whether your company employs 10 or 1,000, your staff roster doesn’t have to be a minefield of mysteries or unknowns. With effective background screening, your business will be more secure, and your trust in your employees well-placed.

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