CREATING AND IMPLEMENTING AN EMPLOYMENT SCREENING PROGRAM
Determining the best course of action.
Certainly, LABORCHEX believes that every company, organization, and association needs to utilize some method of employment screening. Common sense surely requires it, and good business and civic sense demands that employers take the necessary steps to build a productive workforce that protects employees and the general public from fraud, violence, harassment, and other unlawful activities. In addition to helping identify the best workers, employment screening can help minimize turnover, reduce training and insurance costs, lower workers’ comp claims, etc., and can even be looked at as an "employee benefit" and a recruiting tool…as well as a powerful deterrent. After all, when workers know that they can safely work alongside their fellow employees, they can be more productive.
It would be unwise to suggest that a single employment screening procedure is right for everyone. After all, not every company, organization, and association places an identical value on knowing the backgrounds of applicants. Some base a hiring decision almost solely on details revealed during an interview. Many will combine the results of an interview with some level of employment screening. While others may feel that any worker who shows up for work, regardless of his/her past employment and personal experiences, is a good one, especially in a very tight labor market.
What factors will determine your course of action? Cost is often the major factor in determining the extent of a screening program. Remember: You may have to screen several persons to find one acceptable applicant. But when you weigh the cost of screening against the costs associated with turnover, training, workplace crime, etc., screening is an outstanding value. Factors such as industry standards and legal requirements (certain job categories, such as medical position, commercial drivers, etc. require that mandated screenings be completed) also play an important role when determining what screening program should be done. There may be aspects of the screening process that clients want to complete themselves. For instance, one HR department may have the personnel necessary to contact previous employers and verify education and credentials. They may use LABORCHEX to check criminal and driving records only. While another HR department may have a very limited staff, and would need LABORCHEX to complete all levels of screening for them.
By analyzing immediate and long-range goals along with budget requirements and current screening activities, you can quickly reach a point where you can determine which course of action is best.
Consistency in Ordering Screenings and Applying Results.
Not every applicant should be screened. That would be a waste of money and time. After all, many will not possess the necessary qualifications and background for the job, and will require no further consideration beyond an initial review of the application and/or interview. Interviews, testing, and other HR internal procedures will serve to identify those candidates best suited for a position. And once those have been determined, it is then that the employment screening procedure can begin.
If a single person is given the responsibility of making all hiring decisions, there should never be any issues that arise from ordering screenings and applying their results consistently. However, if several people are charged with this responsibility, then all should be expected to fully adhere to established procedures and policies.
Why is it so vital that everyone stays on the same page? Here’s an example: A person applies for a position at your place of business. After interviews, testing, and screening he is denied employment because he was dishonest regarding his claim of a college degree. The manager determined that any person who would lie about such a thing is not worthy of employment. A couple of weeks later, the same person hears about an immediate opening for a similar position in a different division of your business, and sets the application process in motion. This time, however, the manager (fully aware of the dishonesty about the college degree because his computer revealed that the applicant had previously applied at a different division), decides to hire him anyway because he is absolutely desperate to get the position filled at almost any cost.
Unfortunately, such a level of inconsistency does occur. We know it to be a fact, because clients often call on LABORCHEX after such an action results in a lawsuit or other serious matter. In the scenario above, a totally unscrupulous person could hire an attorney and create some type of discrimination or unlawful employment practices case based on the experience.
This is just one example of what can happen when an employment screening policy is not consistently adhered to. Effective employment should not be treated casually or as a whim. By adhering to firm policies, clients minimize the many potentially damaging risks (from negligent hiring lawsuits to deceptive worker’s compensation claims) inherent in today’s demanding employment process.
Matching Screening Levels with Job Categories.
Over the years, LABORCHEX has helped hundreds of clients launch employment screening programs, many of which were for those businesses that never did any level of screening at all.
Some clients, particularly those with limited categories of jobs and only one location, may prefer to screen all employees in a similar manner. Example: The HR Director decides that for all qualified applicants the employment screening will consist of a criminal & driving record check, plus verification of the two most recent employers and education. Orders are placed from headquarters, and results are reported directly to a sole individual responsible for the hiring decision. Such a screening, without any frills, would be considered "standard."
However, another employer (even in a similar industry) decides that applicants for different positions should not be screened in a similar manner. Such an employer can have dozens of job categories, and have several people (such as area supervisors and territory managers), as well as a HR Director, who are involved in the hiring decision. In this scenario, it would be prudent to analyze the various job categories and design a handful of customized screenings to cover all qualified applicants. Certainly, a truck driver delivering products throughout the nation would need to be screened differently than a receptionist. And typically, a cost accountant would need a more involved level of screening than a mail clerk. Some applicants may need to have a credit report reviewed, while for others specialized questioning may be required of professional references. Such screenings would be considered "customized," and should be performed consistently by one or all locations.
Additional Steps to Consider.
- Evaluate Your Recruiting and Application Procedures.
Often, clients who have decided to create an employment screening policy find that some (or many) aspects of their current recruiting and application procedures need to be changed and/or refined. When it comes to recruiting, a procedural change could be as simple as placing a statement in classified ads that "the background of any suitable applicants will be thoroughly screened." This lets the "word get out" that the client is serious about hiring the most appropriate persons. Or, it may be necessary to include additional questions on the standard application, or enhance the current release that the applicant signs acknowledging his/her truthfulness in the process. Some clients decide to add a cover letter to the application packet that informs prospective employees that a background check will be completed should they reach a certain level of consideration for the open position(s). Anything you can do to build a deterrent to undesirable applicants is probably worthwhile.
- Create a "Best Practices" Model.
The best insurance you have against the arbitrary application of your employment screening procedure is to have a reference guide for all employees who are involved in the process. In it, you can cover everything from interviewing techniques and "ask/don’t ask questions," to employment screening policies and termination procedures.
What are ALERTS?
Details designated as ALERTS indicate what most clients would consider "negative" information about an applicant. Clients develop their individual sets of specific criteria by which they come to this conclusion. These criteria vary from client to client. Even clients in the same industry may view identical negative information in a completely different manner.
Under each category below are just a few samples of information that, over the years, LABORCHEX clients have indicated would be an Alert. Such information may, or may not, eliminate an applicant from further consideration.
Previous Employment Verification for Commercial Drivers (D.O.T.)
- Applicant has any drug/alcohol-related issues.
- Applicant abandoned a load of cargo.
- Employer reports any preventable accident in which the driver was involved.
Previous Employment Verification
- The most recent employer says the applicant "quit without notice."
- Applicant’s title and wage differ significantly from what is reported.
- If any employer is "looking" for the applicant to return merchandise, repay a loan, etc.
- The employer refuses to provide any information due to ongoing lawsuit with the applicant.
- ANY criminal record is considered an Alert by LABORCHEX, and is reported as such.
- A license that is currently under revocation or suspension.
- A license that does not reflect the class stated by applicant. For instance, applicant claims a Class A commercial license, but has a Class D license and can only operate an automobile.
- A record that indicates any DUI conviction or any moving violation.
- A record that indicates a license was held in a previous state, but there isn’t any mention of that state on the job application or resume.
- If confirmed GPA is lower by .5 or more points than that stated by applicant.
- Applicant claimed a degree but none was granted.
- Dates of attendance differ by more than 2 months.
Personal & Professional References
- Reference claims no knowledge of the applicant.
- Reference says applicant is a criminal or drug user.
- None of the provided references can be reached.
Professional License & Credential Verification
- License was never granted or is no longer valid.
- License is restricted.
- Record indicates legal/civil action taken against applicant.
Social Security Number Validation & National Address Search
- Any social security number that does not match the one provided by the applicant.
- An indication that the social security number was used fraudulently.
- Addresses listed for the applicant that do not match corresponding data on the application.
Employment Credit Report
- ALL reasons listed above in Social Security Number Validation & National Address Search (this information is listed at the very beginning of the Employment Credit Report).
NOTE: In accordance with Federal Law, LABORCHEX is not permitted to comment on an applicant’s credit worthiness or status. When ordering credit reports, it is up to the client to review the financial information and make appropriate determinations.