News Flash: My Background Check and I Are Boring

Nick Fishman


It’s official. In a development that should shock absolutely no one: I’M BORING. Or so my own personal background check would tell you.

Over the last couple months, we’ve been fine tuning a new product we’re working on called “Trusted Position Intelligence Reports”. These reports offer employers the deep dive employment background check needed to thoroughly vet senior management, executive candidates, potential joint venture partners or those in sensitive positions in order make informed decisions. Kind of like a background check on steroids.

I volunteered to be one of the guinea pigs for this new project and told our team to throw the kitchen sink at me in terms of background screening services ordered and products used. Why they were so excited about this new challenge, I’ll never know. You’d think they just walked down the stairs on Christmas morning and saw a treasure trove of new presents under the tree.

The report included the following background screening services:

  • Residential History and Real Property Ownership Records
  • County Criminal Background Check (all counties of residence since I was 18 years old)
  • Federal Criminal Background Check
  • Statewide Criminal Background Check (all states of residence since I was 18 years old)
  • National Criminal Database Search
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Motor Vehicle Record
  • Business History and Company Affiliations
  • Employment History Verification
  • Education History Verification
  • Civil Record Search at the County and Federal Levels
  • Financial Sanctions Check
  • Homeland Security Check
  • News and Media Search
  • Social Media Search

Fortunately for me, the most salacious thing they found was that one of my former employers couldn’t verify my employment because their records didn’t go back that far:

“This company uses a third-party agency to provide employment verification information pertaining to current and previous employees. The subject was not located within the automated third-party system. Janette T., Human Resource Manager, searched the company’s employment records and did not locate any records in regards to the subject. Janette stated the company retains employment records from 2002 and later. The subject-client provided documentation provided dates of employment for this employer as 1996-1999. Due to the timeframe of employment and the employment record retention rate for this company, the subject’s employment history was not available for verification.”

Translation: I’m old.

Why Are Executive Level Background Checks Important?

I guess what they found (or didn’t find in this case) was far less important than the exercise itself.  Anecdotally, we’ve heard that some organizations are more lax when it comes to their pre-employment background screening practices for company executives. Perhaps they think that those at the high end of the food chain don’t have any skeletons in their closet? Or maybe they think that a potential executive candidate might be turned off by the “imposition” of an employee background check. And to that, I offer one infamous example of a high level executive who wasn’t properly screened.

James Minder was the chairman of Smith and Wesson Holdings, a company that manufactures firearms. It turns out that Mr. Minder was a convicted felon. That’s bad enough, but the conviction was for ARMED ROBBERY.

Check out this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal story that was written when Minder’s criminal past was revealed:

As a serial armed robber in Michigan, Mr. Minder used a revolver — for a while it was a Smith & Wesson — and a sawed-off 16-gauge shotgun. He stole getaway cars and disguised himself with dark glasses, a trench coat and a flat-top hat. He escaped from prison and once terrorized employees at a branch of Manufacturers National Bank before stealing $53,000. The dozens of holdups, some done while he was a student at the University of Michigan, earned him notoriety: “U-M Genius Can’t Stay Out of Jail,” the Detroit Free Press wrote in 1962.

Can You Say “Conflict”?

Anyone see how this might be a conflict for a company that sells guns? That would be like me having a conviction for identity theft.

Minder resigned immediately, but many wondered what kind of background checks Smith and Wesson were doing for all of those years. If I were to guess, their employee background checks for the rank and file were much more comprehensive.

So as I reflect on my own boring background check, I suppose there is one more source my team should have considered speaking to: my mom. She could have (and would have) given them enough material to keep them busy for weeks. I guess we’ll work on that for Phase II of this project.

P.S. I know you’d expect a hyperlink to this shiny new service and big sales pitch. I promise, it’s in the works and we’ll post something as soon as it’s finalized.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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