Hiring people is a big risk for employers. Even the
best candidates may have "major baggage" in their
criminal records, financial history, security clearance
rejections, or just not being someone you want to
work with, around, or even near. All representing a
potential high cost to the employer on a bad hire.
Employers can gather information through many
channels including formal background checks plus
other channels that you make available to employers
and the world. On this page we touch on:
Formal Background Checks
Whatever the reason(s), most employees will undergo some forms of background
checks to protect their employees, their reputations, and their legal exposures. The
wrong hire can cost the company in reputation, customer respect and in hard dollars.
The formal background checks may include one or more of the following:
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK
This is normally conducted by a third party company using one or more law
enforcement agencies. These generally over a ten (10) year span from the current date
but have increased in duration over the past few years. Information that will be used:
- Your full legal name
- Date and Place of Birth including Country
- Addresses you resided at during the year span
- Arrests and Convictions
If part of this time was outside of a County or City, often law enforcement offices in
those areas will be asked for information. This traditionally adds more time to obtain
the reports especially in larger or more crime prone cities where records are extensive
and resources to pull reports are limited.
Sometimes you are offered an opportunity to explain any findings that will prevent your
employment. If offered this opportunity, having documents to support your position
would be good to present. Mistakes to happen along with injustice but this will be a
challenging matter to persuade the information to be overlooked if it is even possible.
EMPLOYMENT BACKGROUND CHECKS
This is generally a conformation of the employers you worked for or at, and dates you
were there. Some resources, like the US Social Security Office, will have dollar amounts
that may be reported. Some agencies have dollar amounts but release of this requires
you authorize the release to the prospective employer. www.TheWorkNumber.com is
a company which provides this information to current and former employees plus to
employers. Current and former employers can obtain a copy of their report annually
at no cost and setup codes that are required to allow or not allow financial information
be provided to employers.
UNOFFICIAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
During the Obama Administration it was reported the Commerce Department did
authorize one company in California to perform background checks using social media.
It had been argued that such searches violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act so the
Administration, per the news report, licensed one company to conduct these.
Many, potentially most to all employers, will check anything online in your name. This
includes sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and other sites where people can
blast and/or post their life and/or current emotional state and/or feelings to.
Four big things to always remember:
(1) LOCK YOUR PAGES DOWN
If you allow the world to post to your web pages, expect the worst as even good
friends can turn on you or leave you exposed to those who don't care what harm
they can carry out under another person's good name. LOCK YOUR PAGES.
(a) Photographs of professional adults at parties wearing inappropriate attire or
no attire which will impact your current employment, impeed potential
advancement, destroy future employment opportunities. Male and/or female
faces clearly recognizable, passed out, partially or fully nude, hanging their
face into a toilet or street curb sometimes still holding their beverage.
Do not bring dishonor to yourself, your family, your parents or your friends.
(b) Photographs of professional adults engaged in inappropriate acts with other
men and/or women.
(c) Written remarks about unprofessional and/or potentially illegal activities
which includes unsubstantiated /unproven allegations and accusations.
(2) THINK BEFORE YOU SEND ... AT LEAST TWICE ... ESPECIALLY IF DRUNK
Never respond/reply to anything when angry, intoxicated, depressed, overly
excited, facing a hardship at home or work, etc. Your ability to respond in an
appropriate manner is very questionable, will be relatively easy to find within 24
hours on the Internet, and never ever can be totally wiped from the Internet.
(3) POSTING OF MATERIAL NOT OWNED BY YOU
Never post content which is copyrighted or requires licensing without going
through the appropriate legal process which can include "Safe Harbor" provisions
for certain not-for-profit and educational organizations. Being unemployed does
not qualify for not-for-profit standing. This can include pictures or other images,
music, writing or the like. Many artists learn they can make more money for their
one work illegally posted once than over the many years their works were sold.
(4) JUST ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE
Anything else that may come back and bit you somewhere down the road.
Laws through the Legislative and Judicial processes are subject to change over
night. Don't let yourself get caught in expensive and time consuming problems.
These are commonly required for pending new hires. Generally this involves you taking
paperwork to a local medical laboratory which identifies who you are, and provides on
how the information is to be reported to the prospective employer and arrangements on
billing the prospective employer.
The test is normally a urine sample which is take using a clean plastic container with a
seal-able top. The industry over the years has learned many tricks on how to cheat the
test and have devised very effective countermeasures against cheaters. The Laboratory
generally is told to expect you by name and the Laboratory will request your Drivers
License to verify identity. Once you are taken into the back for your specimen, the
process only takes a few minutes plus paperwork documenting the sample and you.
I suggest calling to find their slowest times and consider going then as total wait times
can exceed an hour.
There is no legal requirement that the test use urine. Some employers will request a
small sample of your hair from the back of your neck as drugs remain in the hair longer
than other places of the body and can be taken in a matter of seconds.
Should you fail a drug screening you are allowed to request the test be retaken without
any lab charges billed to you. If you have been using, it is generally wiser not to state
that the tests must be wrong as you stopped using a few days before the test.
FINANCIAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
If you will be working in the financial, law enforcement, gaming or other industries
where money, ethics, integrity and trust are involved, you may be information about a
Financial Background Check. Most often this is an inquiry into the Credit Reporting
Companies to examine your financial history. If you are good about paying your bills
on-time and as per your agreement without any recent bankrupt matters or other major
negative marks on your report, you should do fine.
There are those who hold academic credentials from High Schools, Colleges and
Universities who lack basic skills which would seriously impact their ability to perform
in their new role. These are Junior to High School level tests which will depend on what
the employer needs to validate: basic math skills, comparative rations and percentages,
calculating percentages, net and gross margins, profit and loss, work problems,
decision making math problems. You generally are required to put aside any calculator
you brought with you or surrender it during the tests. You are normally provided a
liberal supply of blank copy paper for your "scratch work" and multiple sharpened
pencils with erasers. These are timed tests. Other tests may be involved and will be
determined by the employer on a general employment or job specific basis. The
employer should be able to address questions in detail, however asking may generate
some concern about your ability to continue being a candidate.
FEDERAL SECURITY CLEARANCE
These are very common for positions involving US Government positions in areas of
matters involving natural security including Homeland Defense and other areas where
classified material is handled.
These checks, which are based on the security clearance required, are very detailed and
can go back to identifying by name, address and telephone number your Kindergarten
Teacher as part of a very lengthy form. Once completed, interviews are often conducted
by the FBI with people you have identified. The total process can take over 18 months
to complete depending on resources available due to higher priority issues at the time.
This is often followed by a very pointed and highly stressful interviews to determine
the candidate's truthfulness, integrity and other critical factors for trust of material
within their assigned security classification. Certain levels of the US Government are
essentially excluded from this vetting for their clearances.
Due to the process duration required, anyone seeking employment for a position
requiring a Federal Security Clearance who does not currently hold a valid Clearance is,
most likely, out of luck.
Photo Credit: The album "Who Are You" from the musical group "The Who" founded in 1964. The album contained the successful song "Who
Are You" which became the theme song for the Television Series CSI Las Vegas running from October 2000 to September 2015.