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I screen, you screen.

THE NEXT PERSON YOU HIRE MAY be the reason for your company's success-or its failure. Your company's future depends on the quality of its personnel. How do you find good people? You certainly can't depend on resumes, interviews, and personal references.

A wealth of information is available to assist you in solving this problem. Public records, for example, can tell you if an applicant has been arrested or convicted of a criminal charge, if he or she has sued a previous employer or filed an injury claim, or if he or she has been the subject of a fraud investigation. Records verify applicants' identities, document their selfemployed business experience, and answer many questions resumes don't address.

Government and private studies indicate that as many as 25 percent of resumes contain false or exaggerated information. Falsehoods range from identities and education to reasons for leaving a job-information that is vital to making a meaningful hiring decision.

Professional investigative and applicant screening firms can search court records for litigation histories and business background information, often cheaper than if you do it yourself by using on-line computer networks and official court record searching. Many firms also maintain a data base of applicants and have a tremendous data bank of persons previously examined for other employers.

If you want to investigate a prospective employee in a timely manner, get the individual's date of birth, social security number, and home address. With this information, many of the following records can give you a look into the applicant's activities:

Civil litigation records. Civil legal actions, filed at the city, county, state, and federal levels, provide detailed, documented records of the applicants' personal history, background, and financial relationships, especially those that have gone awry. These records document an applicant's previous injury claims and often are the only means of determining the true amount of time lost from work at previous jobs.

They also reveal other employment problems that for some reason were not filed as criminal charges, such as theft, fraud, or serious misconduct. In my experience more employers file civil damage actions against employees for theft or misappropriation of funds than criminal cases because the employer's main objective is the return of the misappropriated funds.

Civil litigation records also disclose divorce actions and suits for nonpayment of child support. These records are best means of determining potential employees' prior problems.

Criminal histories. The county clerk's office is the true depository of public criminal record information. In the criminal clerk's office each county keeps records of arrests, convictions, and case dispositions, which are available to the public. These records can be legally researched and copied by the records examiner to determine and document criminal arrests, such as theft, drug use, driving while intoxicated, and violent crimes. This information is especially important since employers are now being held responsible for their employees' actions.

Bankruptcy records. Personal and business bankruptcies are a matter of public record at the US Bankruptcy Court in your federal jurisdiction. Before employing people in key financial positions, check these records.

Corporation and assumed-name records. if you are interested in knowing the sideline businesses of your employees, particularly salespeople and purchasing agents, search the secretary of state's corporate indexes and the county's assumed-name records to find business names registered by prospective and current employees. These records are the best source of documenting employee fraud that occurs through kickbacks made for inflated purchases and invoices to false business entities.

Uniform Commerial Code (UCC) filings. These filings document purchases and transactions made by individuals and record the security interest registered by parties extending credit for these purchases. These records help determine the prior banking purchasing and activities of prospective employees. UCC records are also the repository for personal and business tax lien filings by the IRS.

Tax assessor files. The county recorder or tax assessor maintains a public information file of everyone in his or her jurisdiction who pays taxes on real or tangible property. These records verify a person's home ownership and property value.

On-line sources. Marquis' Who's Who is one of many data bases that records resumes and professional achievements of people in business and industry. This on-line service maintains resumes of attorneys, engineers, corporate executives, and experts in a variety of fields.

Newspaper data bases. Many of the nation's newspaper morgues are now available on-line through computer information resellers, such as Dialog, CompuServe, Mead Data, and Vu-Text. These services will search newspaper articles, professional and trade magazines, and professional papers presented at universities and professional programs.

Data bases are often the best means to document someone's professional status and articles written for or about them in their profession. Data bases are also great for gathering research for projects that require statistical information and extensive research.

Business information sources. Financial data bases such as Dow Jones, Dun & Bradstreet, and Standard & Poor's are now available on-line. These sources record financial statements, public company stockholder filings, and detailed financial information concerning the corporate and business community. These sources will also record the stock ownership of executives in publicly held corporations.

Credit information sources. The major credit bureaus have merged their services and have detailed information that will verify applicants' prior addresses, employers, and social security numbers as well as provide a personal credit history.

Invite your credit bureau to your office to explain the new range of services bureaus now offer.

References. On almost every application, applicants must list business and personal references who can talk about their work history or personal characteristics. Dishonest applicants often list relatives, drinking buddies, or coconspirators, who will confirm any information to help the applicant get a job. Through the previous employer's personnel department, verify that the person issuing the reference was actually the applicant's supervisor or manager.

Sylvia Johnson is an example of reference falsification. She runs a personnel scam in Houston. For $20 she will give job seekers a telephone number to list on their resume as a personal or business reference.

Sylvia is a pro. She answers her phone, "Good morning! May I help you?" When you ask for a specific company name she says, "Yes, this is the [company]. "

Sylvia will not offer any information about the applicant because she knows most companies' policy is only to verify information.

How do you protect yourself from someone like Sylvia? Ask her something that is inconsistent with what has been listed on the application. If the information is verified, such as confirming prior employment in Dallas, when the applicant lived in another town over 200 miles away, then your red flags should be raised.

You can also call the same phone number back and ask for another company to see if Sylvia verifies this as well. It's amazing how many Sylvias are in the business of verifying resume information.

Checking all of this information is meaningful, but the first question your budget department is going to ask is, "What does this cost?"

The good news is that the public availability of court records and on-line accessibility of much of this information has reduced the costs dramatically.

A more comprehensive search can be conducted for executives and financial officers for $500 or less that verifies the candidate's education and personal and business background.

One of the main reasons many businesses fail within their first three years is employee problems. You can eliminate many problems by developing an employee screening action plan to screen for success.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Screening for Success supplement; employment screening
Author:Pankau, Edmund J.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:Keeping out of court.
Next Article:Getting help from the outside.

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