Want This Job? What’s Your Klout Score?

Over the years, a number of recruiters have told me that they factor in how many connections a candidate has on their LinkedIn profile to determine suitability for hire.  The rationale was that if someone had a large number of connections, they were a great networker and could use that network to add value to their position.

Well move over LinkedIn, now the social networking gods have given us yet another tool to measure someone’s street cred.  Enter Klout score.

Not only does Klout measure how many contacts you have on LinkedIn, but also how many friends you have on Facebook, followers on Twitter and connections on Google+. But just having the contacts isn’t enough.  They also look at your blogs and monitor your readership. All in an effort to measure your social influence over this audience.  And the best part . . . wait for it.  They condense it into one nice a neat score.

HR industry blogger Susan Avello recently wrote about this topic and said, ” I’ve been hearing a lot about social recruiters and companies looking to Klout to determine one’s “influence. Heck, I’ve even heard rumors that financial institutions are using Klout to determine one’s credit worthiness. That takes the cake for me.”

Yowser! So I ask the hiring world, is a candidate’s Klout score fair game?

From a marketing standpoint, I really like Klout.  It allows you to monitor and target who has the greatest influence on any given topic.  Does I need it to be 100% accurate for this type of use? No.  But when you are looking to get your message out to those with the most Klout in the hopes that they will then “Like” or “Retweet” to their followers, it’s money. Some also suggest that a high Klout score can get you all kinds of perks; special treatment at hotels, the best table at that hot new restaurant, discount offers, etc.  So far, I haven’t seen any of that (it’s like they know me).

When it comes to using it for hiring purposes, I suppose it’s just one more factor in the equation.  However, I’d suggest only using it when it shows relevance to the job (i.e. if social media prowess is a requisite).

By the way, my Klout score is 54.  Maybe this will give me that extra push to 60. I’m not sure if it can be used as a verb such as “Google me”, but “Klout me“.


Expunged Murder Conviction Makes Background Check Futile

Shawnee (Kansas) District Court Judge, David Debenham has approved a petition to expunge a criminal record belonging a convicted murderer.  In the immortal words of Arnold Jackson from Diff’rent Strokes, I say “What you talkin bout Willis?”

Did this judge really just wipe out a murder conviction?  Nothing changed.  There was no new evidence to suggest this woman didn’t commit the crime.  Should he have the power to say “poof, now you see it, now you don’t”?

Here are the circumstances.  Kathleen Cobb murdered her boyfriend in Lawrence, KS in 1980.  She served 16 years and upon her release in 1998, got a degree in social workers degree in Wyoming and started working as a drug counselor.  This is definitely admirable and we applaud her efforts to help others.

She returned to Kansas in 2010 and began work at the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority.  Again, this is a great development.  I am assuming the housing authority knew about her conviction and weighed that against the efforts and experience she had made since 1998.

That said, why on earth would a judge expunge the record.  Now, an employer will never know of the conviction if they conduct an employment background check.  It’s not even like she couldn’t get a job or her social workers license.  She’s done both.  Shouldn’t any future employer have the right to know this information?  She intentionally overdosed someone and then shot him in the back of the head.  She has paid her debt to society and by all accounts is a upstanding citizen.  But should such a heinous crime disappear like this?

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Twisting SHRM Background Check Findings

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released their 2012 survey results on employers’ use of criminal background checks and we wanted to take the time to break down some of their key findings.

The one I want to focus on today is the question they asked about whether employers allow job candidates to explain the results of their criminal checks.

According to the study 58% of respondents said that they allow candidates to explain the results of their criminal checks before the decision to hire or not to hire is made and 27% allow them to do so after a decision is made.

As I evaluated this finding, I couldn’t help but think of a survey they released in 2010 about employers use of credit checks.   Through not fault of SHRM whatsoever, the finding that got published over and over and over again was that 60% of all employers were evaluating credit reports to determine hiring eligibility.  And I’m sure you all remember how the media twisted those results: “Job Applicants With Bad Credit Need Not Apply”, “Candidates Beware: Employers Are Looking At Your Credit”, etc.

The media jumped on this and created a hysteria among those looking for jobs as our country’s unemployment rate reached double digits.  For all we know, that finding could very well have been the catalyst to inspire a myriad states to create limitations on employers use of credit reports.

Just one problem though.  While technically that 60% stat was accurate, no one bothered to read the real findings.  47% said that they ran credit reports on select candidates, while only 13% said they run credit reports on all candidates.  In SHRM’s defense, they even underlined the part where they mentioned that only 13% used them all the time.  And, in truth I am certain that a healthy percentage of that group ran them to comply with federal guidelines.

Now, back to the findings about whether employers allow candidates to explain the results of their employment background check.  If not explained further, the findings seem low.  I can see the headlines now, “Only 58% of Employers Allow Applicants to Explain Criminal Past”.

Let’s give those findings some perspective now.  According to our 2012 Trends in Background Screening study, employers deny employment to those with criminal records less the 10% of the time. Why is that important? It’s important because it underscores the fact that oftentimes, these records don’t need to be explained.  The candidate is hired and that’s that.

So while the media’s first thought will be to offer this statistic to suggest employers’ irresponsible use of employee background checks, let’s hope that they take a minute to consider the whole picture first.  That headline might not sell papers, but it also won’t create a media frenzy fueled by inaccurate reporting.

It’s important to realize that employers are not looking for reasons not to hire someone.  They spend of time, money and effort recruiting the perfect candidate.  By and large, they don’t conduct a background check until the final stages of the hiring process.  The last thing they want is to throw the investment they made into that candidate out the window and start over again.

Are Fewer Employers Using Employment Background Checks?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) just published an eye-opening study on employers use of employee background checks.  The big takeaway that SHRM and other industry writers have chosen to highlight is that the use of pre-employment background screening has declined since their last survey was conducted in 2010.  In the 2012 survey, 14% of respondents say that they never perform criminal background checks compared to 7% in 2010.

This finding is particularly puzzling and runs counter to what we are seeing in the marketplace.  In fact, I often tell clients and prospects the key difference in screening between the time we started the company in 1999 and now is that we used to walk into meetings convincing employers that they should have a background screening program.  Now, we simply ask what they are currently doing and how we can make it better.  I haven’t had a conversation with a mid to large sized organization that doesn’t perform an employment background check prior to hire in years.

When I looked at the survey demographics, I noticed that 24% of all respondents worked for organizations with 99 or less employees.  I’m not sure what the demographics were in 2010, but perhaps that might help explain the findings.  In fact, the study notes that only 48% of organizations at this size conduct background checks.

Here are SHRM’s other key findings:

  • 69%  of employers say that they conduct criminal background checks on all job candidates, 18% on select candidates and 14% don’t perform them at all.
  • 62% of employers conduct a background check after a contingent offer, 32% after a job interview and only 4% before an interview.
  • 52%  conduct criminal background checks to reduce negligent hiring concerns while 49% do so to ensure a safe work environment.
  • 96% say that they are influenced not to hire convicted violent felons and 74% say they are influenced by non-violent felony convictions.
  • 58% of organizations allow job candidates to explain the results of their background check before a decision is made and 27% allow them to explain after a decision is made.

Now, rather than make this post into a novel, we’ll be breaking down some of these findings in multiple posts.  In the meantime, feel free to check out the official findings.



Your Applicant Did What? Background Screening Webinar on Candidate Deceptions

Screenshot of webinar - Job Applicants Do the Darndest Things: How HR Can Spot Candidates Who Game the System

Earlier this week we had a wonderful panel discussion about the things job applicants will do to game the system when it comes to employee background checks.  The discussion was led by EmployeeScreenIQ’s Nick Fishman and Kevin Bachman, Ellen Goldsmith, SVP of HR at Fremantle Media North America, Lisa Kaye, Founder and CEO of greenlightjobs.com and Susan Vitale, Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS and we all had an opportunity to share some great background screening stories and advice for what HR can do to spot background check deceptions.

In case you missed it, we wanted to give you an opportunity to download the recording (see link below).

Job Applicants Do the Darndest Things: How HR Can Spot Candidates Who Game the System.



No Background Check Needed: Applicant Admits to Sexual Molestation in Job Interview

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Cody Slaughter might have said a little too much at his interview for a position with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection when he openly admitted to sexually molesting a 2 year old girl when he was 14 years old as well as animals.  I’m guessing the interview all went downhill from there.

Before I start being a wise-donkey, I want to say that sexual molestation is no laughing matter and the comments I share below are in no way intended to make light of the situation.

That said, if all applicants were as truthful as Slaughter, there wouldn’t be a need for employee background checks or background screening companies for that matter.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where that just isn’t the norm.  There must have been something about Slaughter’s experience and qualifications that got him an interview.  Clearly, he looked good on paper.  At least we’ll give him a big A+ for honesty. Let’s also give U.S. Customs and Border Protection props for taking this information to the proper authorities.  If only Penn State University did the same thing.


Where We Lead, Others Follow (Even Our Competitors)

We pay a lot of attention to our audience both on our blog and other social media sites because we want to know what you like to read about and what gets the most attention.  In doing so, we’ve noticed an interesting trend on our blog analytics over the last year.  Our competitors, yes, other background screening companies are among the top readers of our content.  Why? Because we know our stuff and and aren’t afraid to share our opinions and observations.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Well if that’s the case, our cup runneth over. Not only are our competitors reading our material, but we continue to find evidence that they too are adopting some of the same messaging and tactics.  In nearly all cases, we view this as positive.  First, it validates just how effective our efforts have been and second, it is somewhat flattering to know that they are coming to us for our thoughts and ideas.

Around 2004, we started to blog about our observations, experiences and reactions to a myriad topics related to employment background checks.  We thought that it would be fun to educate the marketplace while conveying our individual as well as our corporate personalities.  We also felt that if we were willing to take the time to educate, inform, interact and become a thought leader, we didn’t have to be the stereotypical sales organization.  Today, we marvel at the reception we continue to receive from clients, prospects and other HR service providers.

So, if you are a regular at the EmployeeScreenIQ lounge, you too should feel validated.  You are spending your time in the right place for all things pre-employment background screening.  If you aren’t a regular, that’s just one more reason why you should be.

For those of you that prefer to follow us through Social Media, check us out on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

P.S. I can’t wait to see the analytics on this one!


Penn State Adopts New Policy on Employee Background Checks

Last week Pennsylvania State University announced that it was launching a new pre-employment background screening program for all employees.  And because they are a public institution, they made the actual policy itself available to the public.

I have to commend them on many levels.  First, it is refreshing to see a major university taking the proper steps to protect its students, faculty, employees and itself from hiring those people who seek to harm them collectively whether it be through theft, dishonesty, violence, etc.  Universities whether public or not have become multi-national conglomerates and it’s time that they recognize it.

While many will say that they are only doing this because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, I say, so what.  Good for them for learning from their mistakes.  I hope that other academic institutions will take note and follow suit.

Secondly, if you read their actual policy, they did a tremendous job of defining who will be subject to an employment background check (practically everyone), what screening criteria will be applied to each position, how the information will be used and how they intend to stay in compliance with state and federal laws as well as EEOC and FTC guidelines.

Any employer that conducts employee background checks and doesn’t have such a policy or hasn’t updated it for a while ought to take a few moments to review it.

7/10/2012 EmployeeScreenIQ Webinar Helps HR Pros Identify Popular Applicant Deceptions (PRWeb)

Over the years, EmployeeScreenIQ has seen its fair share of pre-employment background check deceptions from job applicants– and most HR professionals likely have too (like the candidate who faked her own death to avoid criminal prosecution). However, a larger question looms: was the deception spotted immediately or was it only discovered after the fact?

How HR Can Spot Candidates Cheating Background Screening Process

You’ve seen your fair share of deception in the hiring process and so have we. But wouldn’t it be great if you could spot these mistruths before you make a hire?

Join EmployeeScreenIQ for an entertaining panel discussion led by EmployeeScreenIQ’s Nick Fishman and Kevin Bachman, Ellen Goldsmith, SVP of HR at Fremantle Media North America, Lisa Kaye, Founder and CEO of greenlightjobs.com and Susan Vitale, Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS entitled, “Job Applicants Do the Darndest Things: How HR Can Spot Candidates Who Game the System”.

We’ll show you how applicants are using hiring automation technologies such as applicant tracking systems to pull fast ones when it comes to employment background checks. We’ll use real stories and examples from our panelists to explain how the applicants have tried to game the system and what you can do to spot these deceptions before you hire them. We’ll also will share pre-submitted stories from our registrants and offer advice for how to avoid those situations in the future.

You’ll learn how to debunk popular maneuvers designed to mislead including:

  • “Misremembered facts”
  • Employers who don’t exist (think Seinfeld and Vandelay Industries!)
  • Delayed drug tests
  • And more!

This webinar has been approved for 1 (General) re-certification credit hour toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.*

Register for the webinar today!