Bozeman City Officials Hire Investigator to Look Into Password Disclosure Policy

The Bozeman City Commission called a special meeting last night to decide whether the city should hire a third party investigator to look into the hiring practices of the city’s human resources, police and fire departments after the city drew worldwide criticism for requiring job applicants to provide passwords to social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook on their job applications.  Needless to say, the vote culminated in a unanimous yes.  Personally, I think a negative vote on this move would have resulted in more criticism for the city.

Since this story broke, we have been all over it like bees to honey.  And we will continue to follow it in anticipation of the outcome.  The use of social networking sites as a background screening tool is a very hot topic for hiring professionals and the result of this inquiry could ascertain its level of appropriateness, if any, in the decision making process.

Stay tuned…

Investigator to look into Bozeman “social media” policy

Montana’s News Station – June 30, 2009

UPDATE, Monday evening: An in depth audit will begin into Bozeman’s former background check policy that called for job applicants to disclose their social networking sites’ usernames and passwords.

Bozeman’s City Commission voted unanimously during a special meeting Monday night to hire a third party investigator to conduct a thorough investigation into the controversial policy, which drew criticism from around the world when news of it broke earlier this month. The investigation will look into everything from how the practice was started to how voluntary the request was.         

The vote was prompted by an employee email that accused city staff of providing inaccurate information on the policy.

“I want to know if there were distinctions between the departments. Were there standards developed for what was considered appropriate content on someone’s personal page, how the applicants were told when the review of their sites would occur and for how long they could expect the city to access those sites,” Commissioner Eric Bryson said.

Commissioners say they were unaware the city was asking for the login information from job applicants.

More

Top Background Check Trends for 2010

Greetings from the exhibit floor of the 61st Annual SHRM Conference in NOLA.  Believe it or not, this place is rocking.  Attendance is down a bit, but you wouldn’t notice it judging from the crowds at the general sessions and in the exhibit hall.

We chose to release our Annual Top 10 Background Screening Trends list at the conference list year.  Check it out!

Hiring Controversies, Social Networking and Falsified Resumes Top EmployeeScreenIQ’s Annual List of Background Screening Trends

Global employment screening company shares 10 insights about hot topics that hiring professionals need to watch during 2010

EmployeeScreenIQ, a global leader in employment screening, has announced its 2010 list of 10 background screening trends.

Since 2007, the company has developed an annual list to be unveiled at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition. This year’s trends were announced at SHRM’s New Orleans conference and are designed to equip hiring professionals with advance information on crucial screening topics before they become everyday news.

EmployeeScreenIQ’s top background screening trends for 2010 include:

1. Greater hiring controversies due to social networking. Social networking has exploded in popularity and changed America’s culture. A recent CareerBuilder study found one in five employers used social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to influence hiring decisions. However, many sites have no verification process and several can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet. Sites such as YouTube and MySpace have few content requirements, and nearly all sites allow users to make up a profile in someone else’s name. At risk are FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) regulations and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines.

2. Contractor and PEO background checks rise in importance as temporary labor gains widespread use. As the economy regains its footing, employers will turn to temporary labor such as onsite vendors, contract employees and PEO workers. When a contractor is on-site at an employer’s business, which party is responsible for screening the contractor’s workforce? And how can all those involved be sure the contractor has chosen a screening provider who employs best practices? Addressing these issues before signing a contract will be critical for employers in 2010, and their diligence will be tested. A primer for employers is available at: http://university.employeescreen.com/articles/Contractor_Performed_Check

3. Increased hiring in 2010. Integrating a background screening program with applicant tracking systems (ATS) will enable companies to save time and money in the onboarding process. This will help speed the inevitable hiring upswing in 2010, as companies realize that the recent mass layoffs cut too deeply into their workforce. Key employees will be rehired and job vacancies will need to be filled.

4. Fewer employers will respond to requests for resume verifications. Mass layoffs have left HR departments short-staffed and spread thin in managing responsibilities. As a result, employers are either slow or unable to assist with background checks and verifications. The reality is that former employers don’t make money providing verifications, and many are outsourcing the verification process to a third party provider. However, such companies simply provide payroll data that their client – the candidate’s former employer – uploaded to their system, and information is lost about the candidate’s performance, attitude, skills and experience. http://university.employeescreen.com/articles/Employment_Verifications_Layoffs

More

6/29/2009 EmployeeScreenIQ Announces Top Background Screening Trends for 2010

PRWeb Press Release
Date: 6/29/2009

Global employment screening company shares 10 insights about hot topics that hiring professionals need to watch during 2010

Cleveland, OH (PRWEB) June 29, 2009 –- EmployeeScreenIQ, a global leader in employment screening, has announced its 2010 list of 10 background screening trends.

Since 2007, the company has developed an annual list to be unveiled at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition. This year’s trends were announced at SHRM’s New Orleans conference and are designed to equip hiring professionals with advance information on crucial screening topics before they become everyday news.

EmployeeScreenIQ’s top background screening trends for 2010 include: 1. Greater hiring controversies due to social networking. Social networking has exploded in popularity and changed America’s culture. A recent CareerBuilder study found one in five employers used social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to influence hiring decisions. However, many sites have no verification process and several can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet. Sites such as YouTube and MySpace have few content requirements, and nearly all sites allow users to make up a profile in someone else’s name. At risk are FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) regulations and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines.

  1. Contractor and PEO background checks rise in importance as temporary labor gains widespread use. As the economy regains its footing, employers will turn to temporary labor such as onsite vendors, contract employees and PEO workers. When a contractor is on-site at an employer’s business, which party is responsible for screening the contractor’s workforce? And how can all those involved be sure the contractor has chosen a screening provider who employs best practices? Addressing these issues before signing a contract will be critical for employers in 2010, and their diligence will be tested. A primer for employers is available at: http://www.employeescreen.com/university/articles/Contractor_Performed_Check
  2. Increased hiring in 2010. Integrating a background screening program with applicant tracking systems (ATS) will enable companies to save time and money in the onboarding process. This will help speed the inevitable hiring upswing in 2010, as companies realize that the recent mass layoffs cut too deeply into their workforce. Key employees will be rehired and job vacancies will need to be filled.
  3. Fewer employers will respond to requests for resume verifications. Mass layoffs have left HR departments short-staffed and spread thin in managing responsibilities. As a result, employers are either slow or unable to assist with background checks and verifications. The reality is that former employers don’t make money providing verifications, and many are outsourcing the verification process to a third party provider. However, such companies simply provide payroll data that their client – the candidate’s former employer – uploaded to their system, and information is lost about the candidate’s performance, attitude, skills and experience. http://www.employeescreen.com/university/articles/Employment_Verifications_Layoffs
  4. As job seekers become more desperate to regain employment, resume falsification and diploma mills will increase in use. As the recession triggers an increase in overall crime, employers will see sharp increases in false information from job applicants as well as applicants with criminal records. EmployeeScreenIQ’s newest verification study finds that approximately 50 percent of resumes have some kind of inconsistency. The study also found that approximately 17 percent of background checks conducted by the company identify some kind of criminal activity.
  5. A greater “blind” dependence on the FBI criminal database—despite the reality that it’s not fully effective. This database is a law enforcement tool that wasn’t created for the purposes of background screening. It lacks more than 50 percent of all criminal records, it’s slow and cumbersome, and includes records that resulted in non-convictions. As the number of government jobs increase, our legislators’ reliance on this database as a thorough, accurate and effective screening for regulatory guidelines provides users with a false sense of security. It also creates more gridlock since the tool was never intended for employment background screening purposes.
  6. Controversies over increasing attempts to enact privacy laws, redacting social security numbers and other background information from court records. In recent years, state legislators in New Mexico, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and others introduced bills that would remove personal identifiers such as Social Security Numbers and birthdates from public records. All were defeated, but this is a misguided effort to reduce the potential for identity theft—the unintended consequence is an insurmountable setback to any organization who conducts background checks on job candidates. If states destroy such records, employers may not be able to perform due diligence on candidates. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) is leading the efforts to educate public officials and defeat such bills.
  7. Increased state legislation aimed at discriminatory use of credit reports. Legislators in the state of Connecticut recently drafted a bill that would prohibit employers from using credit reports when conducting employment background checks. While the stated purpose is “to prevent discrimination against prospective employees on the basis of their credit history,” the abolishment of this important screening tool is not in the best interest of the state’s employers or its citizens. A similar measure was proposed and nearly passed in California until it was vetoed. Such bills would significantly increase businesses’ exposure to civil actions over the use of credit checks; further, they increase administrative costs to those employers who must legitimately use credit reports as a screening tool. This legislation is an obstacle to employers’ use of available information to make hiring decisions.
  8. Screening Providers Will Achieve Industry Accreditation. This January, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) announced the launch of a new Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). The result of a seven-year effort, the BSAAP will offer a widely recognized seal of approval that brings national recognition to screening organizations that demonstrate a commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and ongoing institutional improvement. EmployeeScreenIQ will be one of the first providers to apply when the association begins accepting applications.
  9. Litigation will increase over perceived discrimination in screening and hiring decisions. For years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) field offices have aggressively pursued cases where one or more forms of discrimination permeate a company’s hiring practices. Such discrimination cases will only increase in America’s litigious culture. For instance, in most cases it’s not enough to simply adopt a policy against hiring felons, someone with a poor credit history or with a less-than-honorable military discharge. Instead, employers need to ask if there is any nexus between the hiring standard and the job the individual is being hired to do. A continuing area of legal concern is Adjudication Modules—grids or charts that dictate specific reactions to convictions for identified crimes. The pitfall is that different jurisdictions define crimes differently and such inconsistencies can result in possible employer EEOC infractions.

The bottom line, according to EmployeeScreenIQ, experts, is that employers need to regularly revisit their hiring practices.

“We’re often asked by clients what elements of a background check deserve the most attention. The answer is, review everything,” said Jason Morris, president and chief operating officer of EmployeeScreenIQ. “Every organization is unique in their hiring needs and practices. Every individual that you consider for employment should be judged on their own merit, strengths and weaknesses, by someone in the hiring organization that can consider the complete individual.”

View Release From PRWeb

Hiring Controversies, Social Networking and Falsified Resumes Top EmployeeScreenIQ’s Annual List of Background Screening Trends (PRWeb 6/29/2009)

Global employment screening company shares 10 insights about hot topics that hiring professionals need to watch during 2010

Cleveland, OH (PRWEB) June 29, 2009 –- EmployeeScreenIQ, a global leader in employment screening, has announced its 2010 list of 10 background screening trends.

Since 2007, the company has developed an annual list to be unveiled at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition. This year’s trends were announced at SHRM’s New Orleans conference and are designed to equip hiring professionals with advance information on crucial screening topics before they become everyday news.

EmployeeScreenIQ’s top background screening trends for 2010 include:

1. Greater hiring controversies due to social networking. Social networking has exploded in popularity and changed America’s culture. A recent CareerBuilder study found one in five employers used social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to influence hiring decisions. However, many sites have no verification process and several can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet. Sites such as YouTube and MySpace have few content requirements, and nearly all sites allow users to make up a profile in someone else’s name. At risk are FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) regulations and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines.

2. Contractor and PEO background checks rise in importance as temporary labor gains widespread use. As the economy regains its footing, employers will turn to temporary labor such as onsite vendors, contract employees and PEO workers. When a contractor is on-site at an employer’s business, which party is responsible for screening the contractor’s workforce? And how can all those involved be sure the contractor has chosen a screening provider who employs best practices? Addressing these issues before signing a contract will be critical for employers in 2010, and their diligence will be tested. A primer for employers is available at http://www.employeescreen.com/university/articles/Contractor_Performed_Check.

3. Increased hiring in 2010. Integrating a background screening program with applicant tracking systems (ATS) will enable companies to save time and money in the onboarding process. This will help speed the inevitable hiring upswing in 2010, as companies realize that the recent mass layoffs cut too deeply into their workforce. Key employees will be rehired and job vacancies will need to be filled.

4. Fewer employers will respond to requests for resume verifications. Mass layoffs have left HR departments short-staffed and spread thin in managing responsibilities. As a result, employers are either slow or unable to assist with background checks and verifications. The reality is that former employers don’t make money providing verifications, and many are outsourcing the verification process to a third party provider. However, such companies simply provide payroll data that their client – the candidate’s former employer – uploaded to their system, and information is lost about the candidate’s performance, attitude, skills and experience.

http://www.employeescreen.com/university/articles/Employment_Verifications_Layoffs

5. As job seekers become more desperate to regain employment, resume falsification and diploma mills will increase in use. As the recession triggers an increase in overall crime, employers will see sharp increases in false information from job applicants as well as applicants with criminal records. EmployeeScreenIQ’s newest verification study finds that approximately 50 percent of resumes have some kind of inconsistency. The study also found that approximately 17 percent of background checks conducted by the company identify some kind of criminal activity.

6. A greater “blind” dependence on the FBI criminal database—despite the reality that it’s not fully effective. This database is a law enforcement tool that wasn’t created for the purposes of background screening. It lacks more than 50 percent of all criminal records, it’s slow and cumbersome, and includes records that resulted in non-convictions. As the number of government jobs increase, our legislators’ reliance on this database as a thorough, accurate and effective screening for regulatory guidelines provides users with a false sense of security. It also creates more gridlock since the tool was never intended for employment background screening purposes.

7. Controversies over increasing attempts to enact privacy laws, redacting social security numbers and other background information from court records. In recent years, state legislators in New Mexico, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and others introduced bills that would remove personal identifiers such as Social Security Numbers and birthdates from public records. All were defeated, but this is a misguided effort to reduce the potential for identity theft—the unintended consequence is an insurmountable setback to any organization who conducts background checks on job candidates. If states destroy such records, employers may not be able to perform due diligence on candidates. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) is leading the efforts to educate public officials and defeat such bills.

8. Increased state legislation aimed at discriminatory use of credit reports. Legislators in the state of Connecticut recently drafted a bill that would prohibit employers from using credit reports when conducting employment background checks. While the stated purpose is “to prevent discrimination against prospective employees on the basis of their credit history,” the abolishment of this important screening tool is not in the best interest of the state’s employers or its citizens. A similar measure was proposed and nearly passed in California until it was vetoed. Such bills would significantly increase businesses’ exposure to civil actions over the use of credit checks; further, they increase administrative costs to those employers who must legitimately use credit reports as a screening tool. This legislation is an obstacle to employers’ use of available information to make hiring decisions.

9. Screening Providers Will Achieve Industry Accreditation. This January, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) announced the launch of a new Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). The result of a seven-year effort, the BSAAP will offer a widely recognized seal of approval that brings national recognition to screening organizations that demonstrate a commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and ongoing institutional improvement. EmployeeScreenIQ will be one of the first providers to apply when the association begins accepting applications.

10. Litigation will increase over perceived discrimination in screening and hiring decisions. For years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) field offices have aggressively pursued cases where one or more forms of discrimination permeate a company’s hiring practices. Such discrimination cases will only increase in America’s litigious culture. For instance, in most cases it’s not enough to simply adopt a policy against hiring felons, someone with a poor credit history or with a less-than-honorable military discharge. Instead, employers need to ask if there is any nexus between the hiring standard and the job the individual is being hired to do. A continuing area of legal concern is Adjudication Modules—grids or charts that dictate specific reactions to convictions for identified crimes. The pitfall is that different jurisdictions define crimes differently and such inconsistencies can result in

possible employer EEOC infractions.

The bottom line, according to EmployeeScreenIQ, experts, is that employers need to regularly revisit their hiring practices.

“We’re often asked by clients what elements of a background check deserve the most attention. The answer is, review everything,” said Jason Morris, president and chief operating officer of EmployeeScreenIQ. “Every organization is unique in their hiring needs and practices. Every individual that you consider for employment should be judged on their own merit, strengths and weaknesses, by someone in the hiring organization that can consider the complete individual.”

About EmployeeScreenIQ

EmployeeScreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia.

View Release From PRWeb

The New Resume Lie: Look Dumber?

I first came across this topic earlier today reading Sam Narisi’s blog, HR Recruiting Alert.  A brilliant piece that originated from an article in last months Wall Street Journal.  Applicants are dumbing down their resumes so they don’t look OVERQUALIFIED!  In Narisi’s piece, “The New Lie Applicants Are Telling.” he states:

With jobs hard to come by, more and more applicants are lying on their resumes. But they’re not the kind of lies you’re used to.

As HR pros know, it’s not out of the question for candidates to inflate their past job titles and duties, or add academic degrees that were never completed.

But these days, many out-of-work managers are looking for stop-gap jobs and are stretching the truth in a different way — by “dumbing down” their credentials so they don’t appear overqualified.

A lot of formerly high-up employees are willing to step a few rungs down the ladder just to get a steady paycheck. Often, that requires them to convince hiring managers they won’t jump ship the moment the market improves and something better comes up.

One way their doing that: changing job titles to look less impressive, according to the Wall Street Journal. For example, one marketing exec listed her previous jobs as “manager” and “trend researcher” to “staff” and “office support.”

Candidates are also hiding degrees and other academic achievements. One woman looking for temporary clerical work said she received no calls from employers until she stopped listing her master’s degree on her resume.

More

According to the Wall Street Journal’s article:

Kristin Konopka sent out nearly 100 copies of her résumé in January in search of receptionist work, but got only one callback. That’s when Ms. Konopka, a 29-year-old New York actress and yoga teacher, took her master’s degree and academic teaching experience off her résumé.

The calls started coming in. The slimmer version of her résumé landed in 30 in-boxes and earned her three callbacks and two interviews. “It definitely picked up the interest,” says Ms. Konopka, who realized quickly that people don’t “want to hire anyone who is overqualified.”

Securing work in a tight economy means more job seekers might find themselves applying for positions below their qualifications. Many unemployed professionals are willing to take paycuts for the promise of a paycheck. But to get a foot in the door, candidates are gearing down their résumés by hiding advanced degrees, changing too-lofty titles, shortening work experience descriptions, and removing awards and accolades.

More

So, when we started EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 one of our pitches was not to overpay candidates because they lied about their qualifications.  I guess employers need to be cautious and do background checks so not to pay market value when they are overqualified? Chew on that for a while???

University of Michigan, a Diploma Mill?

the-onion-logoNo, its not….but as a fan of The Ohio State University that would  be a heavy helping of Just Desserts!  We have used stories in the past from The Onion and I have to say they are my favorites.  This week “America’s Finest News Source” has a special issue on the workplace, a must read!  This story plays so well into our past diploma mill stories I felt compelled to post this satirical masterpiece.  I am hoping for some background check stories to pop up soon. Enjoy.

University Implicated In Checks-For-Degrees Scheme

ANN ARBOR, MI—The University of Michigan has become the 17th institution of higher learning to be implicated in the checks-for-degrees scandal rocking American campuses, representatives from the Department of Justice reported Tuesday.

Enlarge Image University Implicated In Checks-For-Degrees Scheme

The campus of the embattled University of Michigan.

“We have strong evidence that the University of Michigan granted academic degrees to students in exchange for hefty payments, often totaling tens of thousands of dollars,” Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said. “In the process, thousands of graduates have emerged with degrees, but few or no skills applicable to everyday life. And many are as unprepared to enter the job market as they were when they first enrolled.”

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No Background Check, Bad Publicity – In My Backyard!

Its one thing when a company fails to do a proper background check somewhere in the United States. Its another when it happens in my own county!  Cuyahoga County, well know around the State of Ohio for corruption has another feather for its cap.

Agency that transports the elderly within Cuyahoga County fires its finance director after The Plain Dealer inquires about his criminal past

Senior Transportation Connection — a public-private partnership that runs van service for senior citizens in about 20 Cuyahoga County communities — fired its finance director Wednesday, a day after The Plain Dealer confronted him about his recent criminal history of stealing from employers.

Jeremy D. Fields worked as a consultant for the agency since May 2007, months after getting out of prison for his second felony theft conviction in two years. Court records and interviews show that Fields, 32, embezzled nearly $200,000 from two area businesses before landing the job with Senior Transportation Connection.

Agency Director Janice Dzigiel said she was unaware of Fields’ criminal past until Tuesday when a reporter contacted Fields. Dzigiel said after Fields ended the phone call, he rushed into her office and revealed everything.

Dzigiel said she was stunned by the revelations and told Fields to turn in his keys and leave the agency offices, on West 150th Street in Cleveland.

More

Podcast on Top Background Screening Trend #1

For the past 3 years EmployeeScreenIQ has released an annual list of the 10 hottest screening trends – these are the trends that are expected to make industry headlines next year.  The 2010 list will be announced later this month at the SHRM Conference and Expo in New Orleans, but we’re releasing a sneak preview of some of the trends.

Jason Morris and I recently sat down with HRMarketer’s Kevin Grossman to talk about some of the trends that made our list and what they mean to hiring professionals. Each week in June we’ll air a selected trend as we get closer to SHRM in New Orleans.

This week’s feature focuses on our Trend #1:

Greater hiring controversies due to social networking.

Bozeman, MT Suspends Objectionable Background Check Policy

Power to the people! It sounds like the city of Bozeman, MT was sufficiently bombarded with phone calls and emails objecting to their practice of asking job applicants to supply user names and passwords to their social networking sites after the media and bloggers excoriated them. The city announced late Friday that it will suspend this practice.

City Manager, Chris Kukulski was quoted as saying the policy, “appears to have exceeded that which is acceptable to our community”. He probably should have also included “acceptable in the free world” in addition to his community.

See story

We’re all for employment background checks, but it is important to protect the rights of job candidates in the process.

That Was Fast

City apologizes, stops asking for Internet passwords

The city of Bozeman has stopped asking job applicants for their log-in information to online groups and social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.


However, the city has only suspended, pending “a more comprehensive evaluation,” its practice of reviewing information found on password-protected sites, City Manager Chris Kukulski said, leaving open the possibility that it might find other ways to look at the sites.

The city ended the policy as of noon Friday because the city “appears to have exceeded that which is acceptable to our community,” Kukulski said. “We appreciate the concern many citizens have expressed regarding this practice and apologize for the negative impact this issue is having on the city of Bozeman.”

Acting Mayor Jeff Krauss said he expects the Bozeman City Commission will be reviewing the city’s hiring manual line by line.

“We might want to see what other interesting things are in there that we might have to address,” he said.

As for finding other ways to look at social-networking sites as part of evaluating a job candidate’s suitability for a city job, Kukulski defended that approach.

“We will continue to do our full due diligence to review any public information that we can get our hands on to research potential employees,” he said.

Read more here.

For the last few days, any internet surfer would be hard pressed to find a media outlet that DID NOT pick up this story. A few days after the story breaks and the town walks it back. But it sounds like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it to. In the face of intensely negative public opinion, they backed down, but only by “suspending” the practice, maintaining it was designed to elicit valuable information that is useful when making a hiring decision. They continue to state other practices that are useful toward achieving those ends will be considered.

But will this process reappear once TV reporters stop calling?

Look, I admire the intent to find information that allows them to hire qualified candidates who will keep the community safe and serve the people with honor and integrity. Too many companies are looking to cut corners these days. Hoping their candidate doesn’t have a criminal record rather than checking it.  Wishing a degree comes from an accredited University and not a Diploma Mill. But there’s a line here. I wonder if the town feels they might just have crossed it.