Whether you are new to the workforce, returning to it after raising a family, changing careers, have moved from a different city or state, or are a mature worker, the job interview is where the rubber meets the road. Your prospective employer meets you, you meet your prospective employer. Should both parties satisfy each other’s initial criteria, however, the worst is not yet over. Today, in addition to a round of interviews, more and more employers are also performing background checks. Background checks are not new; these have been in force for decades, but previously have been required only when the industry deals with government contracts, in finance, or legal firms where a work and life history relative to a certain level of ethics is mandated. In this article we will explore how employers perform initial, pre-hire, and routine background checks on job applicants and their current staff to protect themselves financially, and to create a safer work environment.

Just what information generally appears on a background check? Social Security numbers are verified, credit reports, criminal records including pending charges if any. While it may seem alarmist to perform a verification of the information presented by a potential new hire,there are very valid reasons for checking into a prospect’s background. According to the Department of Labor, just one bad apple, we mean applicant, can, if hired, has cost over 27% of U.S. companies over $50,000 a year in losses.

Generally, today’s businesses that perform background checks do so to minimize risk. One such example is to ensure a safe workplace. If a person causes harm to a coworker, the company is negligent and could be sued. Investigating the person before hiring might have revealed the person’s potential to cause harm to other staffers. Another reason, especially for retailers, is ‘shrink’ otherwise known as employee theft. This is the leading cause of loss for any product-related business. This is where a background check that could reveal an arrest record can be instrumental in ensuring that business profits increase and losses decline.

In some highly competitive industries, applicants have been known to pad their resumes by claiming to have degrees from certain colleges and universities and by presenting paper certificates as proof. However, in this day of PhotoShop and similar graphics programs, such certificates can easily be fabricated and printed. While today there are few individuals who have not been to college or who may be currently pursuing degrees online. These persons may have attended certain schools for a time, but possibly in another discipline other than the one in which they are applying, or perhaps never finished the full degree program. Still others may claim to have hold a diploma for a four-year course of study, but only earned an associates degree, or took a certificate course instead. In this way, screening applicants by checking not only for criminal actions, but also to see if they are in fact, suitable for the position is a great idea. It not only thins the herd, but also allows the best and most qualified candidates to shine.

Stop Product and Productivity Losses

Many companies now provide equipment for certain members of their staff, such as cell phones laptops, and even vehicles. Usually, these company-owned properties are provided with the express understanding that the device or vehicle is not for personal use during business hours. Increasingly these ‘perks’ are provided preloaded with tracking or ‘spying’ software applications and even GPS.This way employers can continue to perform random and routine background checks such as the exact location of a vehicle during the workday. They can keep tabs on their staff and quickly spot any negative or dishonest use of their vehicles or worker’s actions during while ‘on the clock’.

While most employees are honest, there are always a few who will attempt to game any and every system. Profitability is not always measured is hard dollars and cents. In other words it is not always what you make but also what you keep. For example an employer might want to know if a prospective sales call was ‘legit’ or not. Did their sales team actually go to their scheduled client meetings and if not, why not? Other ways that some dishonest workers pad their accounts are through ‘trips’ that never took place. Does their invoiced mileage dovetail their vehicle’s odometer data? A vehicle GPS system can alleviate concerns and target dishonest employees.

It is a fact that many people lie about their skills and accomplishments on their resume. For those who ‘embroider’ their resumes, their deception and shortcomings are generally quickly discovered, but only after they have reduced productivity, and cost the company human resource man hours. However, there is a limit to what may be probed in any person’s background check and, many databases, especially those in different states, are not easily accessible.

For example, before hiring a maintenance worker, a small company Googled his name, or, in fact, the name he provided on his resume. No issues were found. A few months later, however, the company President was drinking coffee and watching the news at home early one morning and was surprised to see a follow-up story about his maintenance foreman’s previous arrest. He was shocked to learn in the broadcast, that his employee also had three prior arrests, all under a different first name. An examination of his trackable company-owned tablet revealed that the foreman had been scouting his next robbery victim online while using said device. His actions provided ample proof of his criminal activity to law enforcement. That company now thoroughly background checks every prospective new hire.

It has often been said that one only has one chance to make a first impression. It is important that businesses safeguard themselves by making sure every applicant is indeed, putting their best foot forward. Today, to guarantee the safety of their workers and workplace, their bottom line, to find the best and most qualified candidates to join their staff and protect their most important feature, their corporate reputation, are the main reasons behind business background checks. So going forward, for those at any time in their remaining working lifetime may expect background checks, both random and routine, to be a staple among American business practices and therefore their job hunt.