5 Things I’ve Learned About Background Checks

Joel Cheesman

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 I’ve been knee-deep in the online employment space for almost 20 years. But when EmployeeScreenIQ offered me a full time job last year, among other things, I thought it would be a great opportunity to stay in the industry while viewing the world through a very different perspective.

One example: Not every job opening needs a Help Wanted sign on the Internet but every hire needs a background check – even if every employer doesn’t do one on every candidate.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about screening job candidates and the companies who do so in the past year. There’s much that goes into what makes this engine purr.

Here’s a breakdown of what opened my eyes the most:

  • Background checks are pretty much a commodity. Everything in a background check is publicly accessible. An arrest record in Any County, USA can be seen by anyone who knows what they’re looking for. Differentiation in this industry is achieved by having talent on the ground checking said information that’s better than the competition. That means constant attention to detail and efficiencies. It also means customer service truly makes a difference. User experience from the technology side is important too.
  • Companies are scared to death. No one wants to recruit an employee who ends up being a bad seed and does something criminal. Not only is doing so a litigious nightmare, but it’s also a social media disaster waiting to happen.
  • Candidates are scared to death. Lying on resumes and stretching the truth is out of control. Desperation leads to deception. Diploma mills are big business as a result, awarding PhDs and MBAs to anyone with a few hundred dollars to spend. Our own President and COO has a wall full of bought diplomas, showing just how easy it is to be something you’re not.
  • Government keeps everyone guessing (and pulling out handfuls of hair). When the GOP won control of congress last year, it increased speculation that EEOC regulations might be eased and litigation defused. Additionally, the wave of marijuana legalization means employers have to stay alert to what’s going on with all levels of government.
  • Background checks aren’t going away. You can argue that job postings might one day be unnecessary, thanks to sourcing or social media or robots or something, but as long as people behave badly – and they always will – then there will be a need to screen them before hiring them.

There are others, and nuances happen almost weekly. But this is a good overview of what I’ve discovered the past year. Never a dull moment, and the roller coaster is always more fun than the merry-go-round.

Joel Cheesman
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Joel Cheesman

Director of Strategic Alliances at EmployeeScreenIQ
Joel has over 15 years of experience in the employment industry. He began his career with local and global online job sites such as JobOptions, CareerBoard and Jobing.com, which acquired his online marketing business in 2009. Joel published an award-winning industry blog from 2005-09. He has been featured in well-recognized magazines like Fast Company, US News and World Report and BusinessWeek. He continues to speak at industry events, covering topics from search marketing, social media outreach strategies, and mobile recruitment.
Joel Cheesman
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