Beware of The “Experts”

A client recently passed along the article titled "Hire Better, Profit More" from their industry publication Cleaning and Maintenance Management Magazine.  The article offers "expert" advice on how to better screen lower wage applicants for the commercial cleaning and maintenance business.  Such advice included, running an applicant’s "Free Credit Report" and having the applicant obtain a of a criminal record search on themselves from their local police location.

Where do we start with this thing?  Do we blame the periodical for not screening their contributing authors better?  Maybe.  But let’s not focus on that.  Let’s focus on the harm that such information can cause to the readership.  If I didn’t know better, I just might try these tips.  Why not?  The author says that I can "Hire Better and Profit More". 

Concerning the advice on the Credit Report, an employer has some important considerations it must take into account.  For instance, what is "bad" credit.  Finding a definition is nearly impossible.  More often than not, people have derogatory information on their credit report, so good luck trying to define what is hireable and what is not.  Further complicating the issue is the fact that most hiring in this industry are looking for low wage workers, so finding those with "good" credit is like searching for a needle in a haystack.  The implications of just hiring those with "good" credit would mean not being able to hire enough people to complete the work.  We haven’t even yet touched on the FCRA implications of just using credit to determine employment-worthy individuals or the fact the "Free Credit Report" can only be accessed by the individual consumer one time each year.

Let’s move on to the advice about the local police check.  Okay, not such a bad idea.  It’s certainly cheaper than paying someone else to do it.  But what if the applicant lived in other counties?  What if they were convicted of crimes under a different name used at the time of the conviction?  The reader of this article is lulled by the false sense that this represents a thorough and complete background check.  Since you can only rely upon the good faith of the applicant in this regard, what seems like a good idea quickly diminishes when considering the aforementioned questions. 

What can the general consumer of these types of services do to validate the information being passed along to the so-called Experts?  One thing would be to visit the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) website and find a member/provider that will guide you through the process.  The other thing is to do your homework.  Question everything you read and consider what you are being told. 

As a quick follow-up, I have contacted the editor of this publication and he has graciously allowed me to respond to the article and has agreed to publish it in next month’s issue. 

Rant over!

It Was Only A Matter of Time

Talk about opening up a can of worms!  We’ve been expecting stories to surface about higher profile individuals representing that they earned degrees only for their current of future employers to discover that they were from fraudulent universities (often referred to as "diploma mills").  However, we never would have expected that the first major story to arise would involve a White House staffer and other federal government officials.  The story Lawyer: Gov’t Workers Got Fake Diplomas tells of at least 135 federal employees on the government payroll who represented themselves as graduates from universities that do not exist.

Diploma Mills have been springing up all over the internet and offer those with a couple of bucks the ability to claim that they received academic degrees that they in fact, did not.  We’ve seen this trend explode over the past five years and have been educating employers to beware of such representations.

What can an employer do?  If education is an important determining factor in your hiring process, conduct an employment verification.  This inexpensive step will allow you to determine if your applicant has a degree, the type of degree earned, the dates of attendance and sometimes even GPA.  These diploma mills are not exactly the best kept secret and we all have lists with those most often represented.   

This shouldn’t be the first time you have ever heard about Diploma Mills, but I can guarantee that it will not be the last.