Viva Las Vegas!: Annual SHRM Conference 2007

The Annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference just wrapped up in Las Vegas and boy did it deliver!  Record numbers of HR professionals descended on the desert and let’s hope that what happened in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.  The opportunities to learn, network and have fun didn’t end and are all experiences that should stick with us throughout the year.   They add value to our jobs and the company’s we represent. 

Highlights included an inspirational opening speech by Lance Armstrong, a event featuring the musical group Bare Naked Ladies and a general buzz and optimism about the state of the HR profession and the value now placed on this essential function.  SHRM even unveiled a new logo which was pretty cool and finally gave in to those of us have been referring to the organization as "SHERM" rather than "S-H-R-M".

In the eight years we have exhibited at the event, it is safe to say that this was by far the best.  Attendance was up, enthusiasm was infectious and the desire to learn about the latest trends, techniques, products and services was evident.  While the general state of the profession continues to grow, one wonders if the chosen city had something to do with it.  If so, one could make the case that Vegas should be a repeat performance in the near future.

Hopefully you got a chance to stop by our booth and say hello, to experience our remarkable re-branding efforts, learn more about the latest trends in employment screening,  or just to get one of a limited number of employeescreenIQ Rubik’s Cubes!

We’ll look forward to seeing everyone again in Chicago next year!

Experts Reveal 10 Background Screening Trends in Coming Year ( June 25, 2007)

At the 2007 SHRM Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas, Chief Marketing Officer Nick Fishman and President Jason Morris of EmployeeScreenIQ (formerly Background Information Services), a global pre-employment screening company, are already thinking about next year. They shared with BLR what they believe will be the 10 background screening trends in 2008.

From, June 25, 2007

[Read the full article…]

HRMAC Panel Discussion of Growing Your HR Career

I attended a Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC) panel discussion for young HR Leaders about how to grow your career in HR this past week and really glad I did.  The panel consisted of Anne de Bruin Sample, SVP of Human Resources of Pepsi Americas (and fellow Ohio State Buckeye alum), Brad Patrick, SVP of Human Resources of Sara Lee Corporation and Haven Cockerham, President and CEO of Cockerham and Associates (former high level HR leader at GM and RR Donnelly).  Paul Schneider of Scherer, Schneider, Paulick, LLC was the moderator and asked intuitive questions about the career paths of each of the panelists.  All gave very thoughtful and revealing answers about their successes and their mistakes, their advice for young HR leaders looking to get ahead and their cautionary tales about what can derail a successful career.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these successful people offer advice and quickly came to the conclusion that whether talking about a successful career in HR or a successful career in any other profession, the general advice is all the same.  Learn everything there is to know about your company.  Meet as many people as you can within that company and learn about what they do.  Become a thought leader.  Don’t just cow to every opinion offered and become a wall flower.  Most successful careers are launched not be status quo or agreeing to everything that your colleague offer, but by careful consideration about how to do things differently.  Communication and the ability to build coalitions is the key to a successful career.  Without these two characteristics, a successful career become more and more difficult to achieve. 

I wholeheartedly agree with all of the above, but all of this advice about a successful career led me to think about a couple things I think are necessary ingredients.  The first is something my father taught me: No matter what job you have or what your profession is, you are always selling.  Whether you are selling a product or service to a customer, an idea to a colleague or advice to an executive.  Second, be genuine and treat others as you wish to be treated, not matter their position within a company.  Third, push yourself to learn and be challenged.  When you stop doing this things, you might as well quit.  It’s transparent to everyone: your boss, your colleagues and, or your clients.   

SHRM Annual Conference

In less than a week, nearly 20,000 HR professionals and organizations that sell to HR professionals will descend upon Las Vegas for the Annual Society for Human Resource Managers Conference.  This conference gives HR professionals the opportunity to keep aprised of the latest trends and technologies in HR, network with their peers, keep up with continuing education for their certifications and visit with hundreds of service providers that, let’s face it, want to sell their products and services. 
We’ll try everything: three ring circus’, autograph sessions with celebrities, free iPod’s and the latest logoed gadgets and gizmos.  Does any of this stuff make a difference?  We hope so, because if it doesn’t, the real circus is us, the exhibitors.  So my advice to the average attendee: Shop for what you need and audit the show for things you didn’t think you needed (or wanted).  You never know what you might find.  Take all the free stuff that is handed to you.  What do you have to lose?  You just might find a product or service that adds great value to organization.  Maybe a new employment screening provider at booth number 1521 for instance.  Who knows? 

Care to share your thoughts on what constitutes a good conference exhibit experience?  Hate the follow up phone calls?  Don’t like being hasseled at the booth? Can’t stand dragging literature and giveaways home?  Your feedback is greatly encouraged.

Screening Against OFAC List of Terrorists, Drug Traffickers is Potentially Problematic (Bureau of National Affairs Human Resources Report 6/18/2007)

Supporters say the list helps helps companies maintaing workplace security, while helping the nation keep terrorists and drug cartels from plugging into the U.S. financial network. But critics call the list mostly irrelevant and say that false hits have led to discrimination against individuals with Latino-, Middle Eastern-, or Muslim-sounding names.

From the June 18, 2007 Bureau of National Affairs Human Resources Report.

[Read the full article…]

Instant Background Checks

Believe it or not, there are some relevant and thorough portions of a background check that can be conducted instantly.  Typically, these are searches where there is a direct line to the source of information that has been thoroughly vetted for accuracy and depth of information.  Such searches include Motor Vehicle Records, Address History Search, Homeland Security Searches (often referred to as Terrorist Watch lists), Office of Inspector General Searches and Credit Reports.  However, you should be weary when you see things such as "instant criminal background checks".  For the only instant source for a criminal record search is a database product which is cheap and is fast, but is neither thorough or comprehensive.  The gold standard for thorough, accurate and complete criminal record searches is still the time tested practice of on-site research in the county (ies) where a person has lived, worked or gone to school over the past 7-10 years.  While it might take more time (average of 1-4 days), there is no substitute or shortcut that has proven to be more effective. 

Eventually maybe there will be one consolidated source for all criminal record searches, but there is also a day when we all might choose to fly our own personal vehicles to work rather than drive. Right now the date for both of these endeavors is in the yet to be determined future.  Until then, beware of the instant criminal background check.

International Background Checks

As more organizations participate in the global economy, international background checks are becoming increasingly important.  However, as opposed to conducting background checks in the United States, the rules and methods for doing so are not clearly defined.  For instance, the type of information varies from country to country.  By and large, the most common types of overseas checks are limited to Criminal Records Searches, Employment and Education Verifications and Terrorist Watch List Searches.  However the depth and detail of information can differ greatly by country. 

Further, there is no international version of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that governs the use of background checks.  Organizations can become Safe Harbor Certified with the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Such a certification mandates some general best practices when it comes to applicant authorizations and the transmission of private information across international borders.  In general, it is best to afford overseas applicants with the same rights as domestic applicants when no clear regulation has been established (i.e. dispute resolution).

Lastly, since every country operates differently it is important to know where to access information, what information is needed to locate records and what you can expect in terms of results, turnaround time and cooperation. 

A good screening partner should be able to help you with direction and recommendations on all of the above.  Know of any?

Who’s Guarding the Henhouse?

Who’s guarding the guards.  According to this article written by the Associated Press and posted on Yahoo private security guards charged with protecting us from terrorist attacks are both underpaid and not properly vetted.  Setting aside the pay scale, let’s address the concerns with background checks.  Yes, it is of major concern that these guards are not undergoing a thorough and effective check before they are charged with protecting us.  And yes, there should be regulations for doing so.  However, has anyone noticed that when the government starts to regulate in this area, they fall far short of the intended goal?  If you are going to regulate, then put some teeth behind the effort and require not just a background check, but a stringent background check that doesn’t involve an internet search at (made up company).  To do anything short of this is to create a false sense of security.

While I do agree with the premise that background checks should be performed, I have some concerns with the author of this article for the implication that "criminal records" should disqualify those seeking employment.  This is a slippery slope for any employer and an unfair practice.  Each record should be evaluated on its own merit or lack thereof and then considered for how the past transgression would impact the applicant’s ability to perform well with integrity.

Bottomline, there is no excuse for employing a security guard without executing a thorough and effective background check.  Without it you must ask "who’s guarding the henhouse". 

New ruling on the FCRA

The United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling today supporting two insurance companies on claims of a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The law requires insurance companies and
other businesses to notify customers who are charged more because
of their credit ratings.

In a unanimous decision, the justices said
Geico General Insurance Co. did not violate the law and that Safeco
might have, but did not do so recklessly.

The insurance industry said a decision
against it could have subjected companies to billions of dollars in
punitive damages for failing to notify customers.


This ruling has little or no impact on the background check and employment screening industry however there will be upcoming discussions on various definitions of terms.  Look for  related news in upcoming issues of our newsletter, The Verifier.