Should You Conduct Employment Background Checks? – 4 Elements Why

As we near 2018, the workplace is rapidly changing around us. Technology is more immersive than ever and competition in the workplace is becoming more fierce.   With a more competitive field for job-seekers, it has become more common for job-seekers to embellish their credentials.[5] Although conducting a criminal background check is very important (in fact it should be the core of every background check), a more holistic approach to include the following should be mandatory:

  • Education verification
  • Drug testing
  • Work history verification
  • Criminal background check

You may ask yourself, why all this? It’s simple. When all of these elements are included in a thorough background check,  the employer increases the chances for a successful hire and minimizes risk to the highest possible degree. For instance, say a software company has obtained a superb prospect and validated work history and education as well as passing a drug test, but has a criminal record of hacking into an old database of another company and stealing valuable data was found. This becomes a threat to the new employer. According to Fortis, millions of hacks happen each day. [2]

With validating work history and education, these elements are what saves a company from wasting training costs. We have heard those “fake it till you make it” stories – but, how many of those don’t work out for individuals. Onboarding is an incredibly costly process for a company. Training classes and seminars can cost businesses thousands of dollars. In addition to having salaried employees take time to monitor or help with this training, you need to factor in their pay as well (that is taking away from their duties with the company). According to SHRM, Society for Human Resource Management, the cost-per-hire average is $4,129, while the average time to fill in a position is 42 days. [1] So if a company averages one bad hire a month, that company is wasting $50,000 annually on bad hires- that is just training, not including the price of those who work with the company, spending their time.

Lastly, drug testing. As of 2014, drug abuse has cost U.Sbusinesses $81 billion, according to EHS Today. [3] According to, an estimated 208 million people use drugs worldwide. [4] If a company hires a new candidate and everything checks out, but they’re hiding a drug problem, it is only a matter of time until that is exposed. The types of problems a typical drug user will bring into the work environment include increases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft. [6]

When conducting an employment background check that includes all four of these elements, there is a significantly higher likelihood that an employee will save their business time, money, and productivity. Why should your company suffer losses from a bad hire? Screen your employees and focus on your business. Let us here at Safeguard Background Screening LLC  do all the work for you.

SHRM Source [1]

Fortis Cyber Attacks[2]

EHS Today Drug Costs [3]

Drug Free World Facts [4]

How Resume Fraud Costs US Businesses Millions [5]

Who Is Most Likely to Use Drugs in the Workplace? [6]

5 Reasons Post Employment Background Checks Are Important

When bringing in new talent to the workplace, most companies weed out bad apples at the pre-hire stage. The exact premise of this is to evaluate the total risk of the hire and make sure they are fit for said position. Lucia Bone is the founder of the Susan Weaver CAUSE. The Susan Weaver CAUSE is an organization created to promote awareness of conducting ongoing criminal background checks on workers. The organization was named after Cathy Sue Weaver was murdered in 2001 by a worker who had not undergone a background check. [1]

Raj Anathonpillal, CEO of IDentrix, said “people are dynamic and so is the risk they pose to organizations. One-and-done backgrounds checks don’t account for the dynamic nature of risk factors.’ [1]

What threats do bad hires pose?

  1. Embezzlement
  2. Fraud
  3. Theft
  4. Violent behavior
  5. Drug abuse

People need to understand that even if someone has a clean record at pre-hire doesn’t guarantee it will continue to stay that way throughout their time.

Ananthanpillai also explained the risk from their very first hire date, “Whether they have been with the company for five days or five years, you truly just don’t know it- companies miss alarming behavior and early warning signs all the time because they are not screening periodically” [1]

Ananthanpillai noted a client with more than 30,000 employees and contractors was able to identify 11 felony arrests, 5 drug-related arrests, and one sex offender during just three months of monitoring.

Ultimately, the challenge is truly just trying to predict future behavior. According to Neil Adelman, President of SafeGuard Background Screening in Cleveland, Ohio, “It’s all about being proactive. Background checks, including drug testing, should be conducted not only at the time of hire, but on an ongoing basis, especially, but not limited to times of promotions or change of job designation. Additionally, periodic, random drug testing can be a very cost-effective deterrent that can save organizations lots of potential trouble.”


Take the case of Marilee Jones, dean of admissions of one of the most prominent schools in the world, MIT. With an acceptance rate of 7.9% as of 2016 (MIT), the old dean who oversaw “who’s in, who’s out” flew under the radar herself. About three decades prior when screening wasn’t up to its effectiveness it is today, Marilee Jones, although not criminal, lied about her credentials. If she is not honest with the process, what else could she have not been? After almost three decades she resigned (see “Resume Fraud, Marilee Jones”).  If the MIT admissions department did periodic checks, they would have avoided this PR disaster. [2]


SHRM Resources [1]

Resume Fraud [2]

Top 10 Reason Why Employers Should Use Background Screening

Resume Fraud

Approximately half of all applicants lie on their resumes or commit outright fraud. If you are able to determine which applicants have misstated their credentials, you can eliminate them from the get-go without wasting any more time in the process.

Limited Access to Information

Employers do not want to provide any more information than what is required and are very hesitant to respond to a reference request. But, at the same time, former employers often hold the key to the most relevant insight about the candidate.


Many employers use an outside agency to perform background screening on potential employees – and for good reason. Background screening is complicated and time-consuming to perform in-house. Hiring an outside agency saves time and money – especially when small employers cannot afford to dedicate the necessary resources to perform these checks in-house.

Compliance Issues

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) sets standards for employment screening. There is a list of compliance requirements triggered by the FCRA, including various disclosures an employer must make before, during, and after the background screening has been performed. The FCRA also carries substantial penalties for non-compliance. SafeGuard Background Screening provides the tools to maintain compliance that is built right into its systems.

Bad Apples Are Expensive

Hiring is one of the most critical decisions a business will make. Failure to carefully screen and select applicants can result in employees who are (1) not qualified to perform the work hired to do; (2) whose work habits are not in line with the organization’s; (3) whose attitudes and personalities clash with coworkers, (4) hired under false expectations which later turns into poor morale and low productivity. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the employee’s potential earnings during the first year of employment. But that estimate is low–many submit that the number is closer to 100% for non-management personnel and 150% to 200% for management.

Employee Theft

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that theft by employees costs American companies $20 to $40 billion per year. U.S. consumers absorb this cost at the yearly rate of $400 per working adult. An employee is 15 times more likely than a nonemployee to steal from an employer.

Claims of Negligent Hiring and Retention

Employers can be sued and held liable if they fail to use reasonable care in the employment selection process. “Reasonable care” is dependent on not just whether the employer knew about the candidate’s proclivities but also whether the employer should have known. In short, failure to screen applicants and to use proper care in hiring can result in legal liability.8. Workplace Violence. Some two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Certainly, not every incident of violence could be prevented with applicant screening. But if pre-employment checks could prevent a potential incident from happening in your workplace, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Workplace Violence

Some two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Certainly, not every incident of violence could be prevented with applicant screening. But if pre-employment checks could prevent a potential incident from happening in your workplace, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Intellectual Property Concerns

Intellectual-property theft is a very real concern, costing American employers anywhere from $200 million to more than $1.2 trillion annually. As the workplace becomes more technology-based and employees become more technology-savvy, the risk of stolen trade secrets and other proprietary information will continue to escalate.

Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

Of course, this is the biggest fear of most employers–that the person they hire will later “turn” on the company and file suit. And there is a good reason to worry. Just ask Wal-Mart, which has been hit with several multi-million dollar lawsuits brought by employees over the past few years.

Do you really know who you are hiring? The Secret Life of a Medical School Dean

The importance of conducting periodic background checks and drug screens post-employment cannot be overstated. Case in point: Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito. Harvard educated Dean of the prestigious Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California,  a man with a prolific career that once seemed unstoppable, was caught with another side to him.

Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito had no known criminal records. Public records showed no blemishes on the medical licenses he holds in California and three other states, and a review of court records in those states found no malpractice claims against him.[1]

So what happened? The story broke out late July 2017.  Reports began to surface about the Harvard-educated physician’s secret life of hookers and drugs. It all came out after Sarah Warren, former prostitute and girlfriend of Dr. Puliafito, overdosed on drugs. She spoke out about the ultra-secretive life of Dr. Puliafito’s late-night drug-fueled benders. What exactly was involved you may ask? Heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and much more. Dr. Puliafito, surrounded by hookers, criminals, addicts, and drugs, was living his secret identity.

Rescreening a figure such as Dr. Puliafito must have seemed almost too absurd. One can easily verify his licenses, education, and the references of those who he has spent countless hours researching with him. It would be pretty difficult for Dr. Puliafito to fabricate his life’s work with all the credibility and auditable work he has left behind in his field.  How could a family man, and a top fundraiser pull off such a double-life?

As Dean of The Keck Medical School, Puliafito oversaw hundreds of medical students, thousands of professors and clinicians, and research grants totaling over $200 million. He was an absolute key fundraiser for USC, ultimately bringing in more than $1 billion in donations after his time spent at the University. [1]

With this type of track record, it would be impossible to believe such a figure would be involved in night-long benders with hookers, addicts, and criminals.

Moral of the story? It is highly recommended to have a policy of periodic re-screenings for all employees, at all levels, including drug screenings, especially at times of promotion and when job designations change. Just because a person passed their background check and drug test at the time of the initial hiring, doesn’t mean that they will never go astray. People are after all, just human, and the case of Dr. Puliafito should be an eye-opener for us all.  Solid pre and post-employment background screening policies can prevent disastrous future consequences your organization. In the case of USC, the cost could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. [2]

Source: [1] [2]

Sexual Violence in the Workplace – from Harvey Weinstein’s Hollywood to Main Street

Unfortunately, no place is completely safe anymore. Someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the U.S. [1] That means 570 people experience sexual violence every day. [2] As we have seen in the news with Harvey Weinstein, how much else is hidden in the dark?

Sexual violence permeates our culture in many ways. We have seen everyone from athletes telling women to keep quiet about their sexual advances in the past, to doctors being accused of sexual assaults on patients- it does not help that hit television shows and movies reinforce this culture. [2]

To give an angle why the Harvey Weinstein scandal is so troubling- see what Brit Marling had to share:

“Weinstein was a gatekeeper who could give actresses a career that would sustain their lives and the livelihood of their families,” she wrote. “He could also give them fame, which is one of few ways for women to gain some semblance of power and voice in a patriarchal world. They knew it. He knew it. Weinstein could also ensure that these women would never work again if they humiliated him. That’s not just artistic or emotional exile—that’s also an economic exile.” [4]

Most assailants get away with their actions because of fear of their victims coming forward. Whether that fear is because of discomfort, threats, or loss of employment – this is the reality.

To have a job in a safe environment is a reasonable expectation that all people should have. People have the right to be safe.  With the Harvey Weinstein scandal, we have seen people who are afraid to come forward when their careers are threatened. If famous people are afraid to come forward, then the average member of the workforce is truly at a disadvantage.

The repercussions for the victims of sexual assault can be devastating. It is noted that people who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to use drugs than the general public. [3]

  • 4 times more likely to use marijuana [3]
  • 6 times more likely to use cocaine [3]
  • 10 times more likely to use other major drugs [3]

Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and coworkers. [3]

As a business owner or operator, safety should be number one priority. So how are employers expected to control this, and maintain a safe work environment? One of the first steps that can be taken is to perform pre-employment background checks. It does not take much time at all, and the cost is relatively low when weighed against the fallout from a bad person making it into the workplace. Companies such as SafeGuard Background Screening in Cleveland, Ohio can provide a wide-range of options from screening criminal history and checking sexual registries, to verifying past work histories and checking references. They provide plenty of resources to weed out potential threats to your employees. It not only makes sense from the obvious standpoint of protecting those employees who are targeting by such behavior but also the negative effects on the business and the other employees who can be impacted when the business suffers. There is a ripple effect.

Workers can all agree on one thing as a necessity in the workplace and that is safety.  According to Webster dictionary, safety is described as: “the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury or loss”. Not in just physical tense, but being valued and respected by your peers. No threats physically or emotionally. Sexual violence isn’t always a physical act, it can be harassment or verbal threat.

No gender safe. In the world of sexual violence, there are no barriers. No gender, no age-group, no race is entirely safe.  These statistics show anyone can be a victim. It is important to surround your work, school, and social environment with trusted and respectful people.

Images by

Although sexual crime has been on a slight decline, it is no reason to let your guard down. Do background checks and weed out bad apples.

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Who Is Most Likely to Use Drugs in the Workplace?

#drugabuse #humanresources #employment #opioid

Drug consumption has reached its highest rate among college-aged students, especially marijuana. According to a study from the University of Michigan, 51% of full-time students have used an illicit drug during their lifetime and about 40% have in just the last 12 months. [7]

Why is this cause for concern?

Having employees who experiment with drugs can be an expensive problem for a business. Issues can range from loss of productivity all the way to fatalities. If you are not drug screening your employees, you are increasing liability against your business that can cost your business. The four major issues that derive from drug use are the following:

  1. Fatal accidents
  2. Injuries
  3. Excessive absence/sick leave
  4. Loss of company production

This does not include loss of efficiency, increase the probability of theft, lower morale, higher turnover, poor decision making, increased tardiness, hangover/withdrawal symptoms, or sleeping on the job.

Drug patterns and post-college employment status had the following conclusions: persistent drug users had the highest rate of unemployment (10.1%) compared to non-users (1.7%). [6]

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health,

Marijuana use and other illicit drugs are both associated with a decreased likelihood of continuous enrollment in college. [5] – so what would continuous employment look like in the workplace? The same result.

Since the early 90’s, the proportion of students using drugs ranging from marijuana to prescribed opioids and stimulants have skyrocketed. [2]

Since the early 90’s to mid-2000’s the use of cocaine and heroin went up 52%. The abuse of prescription drugs has also exploded-ranging from Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin. The numbers shot up 343% to almost a quarter million students. Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall 93% to 225,000 students. Tranquilizers like Xanax are up 450% to 171,000 students. [3] These shocking numbers have only been going up. One of the largest trending problems our nation is currently dealing with is the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis has claimed thousands of lives in this decade alone. It reports people killed by fentanyl, a substance found in synthetic heroin, has gone from 3,000 to more than 20,000 in just three years—540% increase. [4]

These numbers have been steadily increasing for the following reasons:

  • Shifted perception of drugs
  • Changes in legislation that make violations of consuming or obtaining drugs less severe
  • Availability of specific drugs, especially prescriptions (Adderall, Ritalin mostly)

Drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. In 2013, 22.6 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported using an illicit drug in the past month. [8]. What does this data tell us? This is the primary age group of students in college. Ages 21-25, 26-29 and so forth see a steady decline in consumption. The evidence is there, testing younger folks makes sense because of their increase tendencies and exposure. [8]

Image by [8]

Drug abuse will be an ongoing issue in this world. Don’t let it affect your company’s performance. Screen your candidates and save your business the hassle.


Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace[1]

Drug Abuse & Unemployment[2]

Wasting the Best & Brightest[3]

CNN Opioid Fentanyl Statistics[4]

NCBI Drug Use Patterns [5]

NCBI Drug Patterns in Young Adulthood[6]

University of Michigan Drugs Study[7]

Drug Abuse Government Facts[8]

How Resume Fraud Costs US Businesses Millions

Whether you are a small company or large – is it worth reality checking your employees?

The answer is yes.

Here’s why:

  • According to Steven Levitt, Economics professor and co-author of Freakonomics, stated more than 50% of people lie on their resumes. Billions of dollars lost due to embezzlement. [1][4]
  • In a 2012 study, SHRM reported that 53% of resumes and job applications contained falsifications. [2]
  • ADP listed 53% of people (up from 46%, see Brian Williams article) lie on resumes. [3]

What is resume fraud?

The Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) defines resume fraud as a “job seekers’ intentional inclusion of false information (fabrication), overstatement of otherwise accurate information (embellishment), or omission of relevant information (omission) on resumes in an effort to deceive.

What is the cost to U.S. Businesses?

  • Employee theft: 75% of workers steal from the workplace [4]
  • Embezzlement: Billions of dollars lost from bad employees [4]
  • Internal theft: is much more prevalent than external [4]
  • Business failure: one-third of business failures are attributed to employee theft [4]

All-Stars” who got caught:

Name: Scott Thompson
Occupation: Chief Executive Officer
Company: Yahoo!

Story: Ex-CEO Scott Thompson was fired from Yahoo! When activist investor Dan Loeb notified the board of Yahoo! that he, in fact, did not hold 1 of the 2 degrees he listed on his resume. Scott Thompson claimed he graduated from Stonehill College with a degree in accounting and computer science. This was a lie. Scott only held a degree in accounting.  Yahoo! replaced Scott that same year.

Cost: $7 million kept, $20 million forfeited (These numbers are just his package, does not include what value Yahoo! lost). [5]

Name: George O’Leary
Occupation: Head Football Coach
Company/Institution: University of Notre Dame

Story: George O’Leary resigned from Notre Dame as head coach after just five days of being hired. In 2001, O’Leary admitted to false information found on his resume. The uncovering of false information included education and athletic accomplishments. O’Leary claimed he earned a master’s degree from NYU which turned out to be a lie. O’Leary also indicated he had three varsity letters in football from the University of New Hampshire.

Cost: Reputation of the University of Notre Dame and Alumni

Name: Marilee Jones
Occupation: Dean of Admissions
Company/Institution: MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Story: Marilee Jones resigned after roughly three decades when news of fabricating her own education credentials became aware. This may as well be the definition of irony.  Jones listed on her resume she had three degrees- when in fact she had none. After this came to light and causing a frenzy in the admissions department, Jones felt it was time to end her 28-year lie and leave the school.

Cost: Reputation of the admissions process and department at MIT

Name: Kenneth Lonchar
Occupation: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Veritas Software Corp.

Story: Ex-CFO Kenneth Lonchar helped inflate the value of a $30 million licensing agreement with AOL (Law360). In 2002, it came to light that Lonchar padded his academic credentials. Lonchar claimed he had an MBA from Stanford, turns out he did not hold an MBA from any school. Lonchar’s activities within Veritas cost the company millions of dollars in penalties and disgorgement.

Cost: More than $31 million netted in penalties and disgorgement. [6] [7]

Bottom line, people are lying on their resumes and it is increasing every year. Reality check your applicant’s resume! If a person lists a job, degree, or experience on their resume, even if it is not required for the job they are applying, verify it. If an applicant is willing to “exaggerate” about any of this, what else will he “exaggerate” about?

[1] Steven Levitt Resume Fraud Source
[2] SHRM Statistic Source
[3] ADP Statistic Source
[4] US Commerce Statistics
[5] Scott Thompson 7 Million
[6] Veritas Scandal & Settlement
[7] Lonchar Education Credentials

3 Critical Steps to Conducting a Background Check

Understanding the U.S. Court System

The United States court system is actually made up of several court systems: a federal system and 50 state systems. Each has its own organization and processes. All are multi-tiered. Usually, legal cases begin in a lower court and sometimes work their way up to a higher court. A percentage of cases initiated in a state court system may end up in the federal court system. Most States have two levels of trial courts:

1) Trial courts with limited jurisdiction —which can include municipal courts, magistrate courts, and lower county courts which hear minor criminal cases and traffic violations; and

2) Courts of general jurisdiction include circuit courts, superior courts, district courts, or courts of common pleas, depending on your state —which hears lawsuits that involve greater amounts of money or more serious types of crimes than the cases heard in trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

Federal courts

Most of the federal court system is divided into districts and circuits. There is at least one federal district in every state, but populous States can have multiple districts. The Constitution only allows certain kinds of cases to be heard by the federal courts. These courts are limited to cases that involve Issues that involve Issues of Constitutional law, certain issues between residents of different States, Issues between U.S. citizens and foreigners, Issues of both federal and state law.

Best Practice: Conducting Criminal Research for Employment

Just by advertising that you have a criminal background check process in place will dissuade many potential applicants with a criminal record from even bothering to apply. This increases the quality of your pool of applicants without spending a penny.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of courts to cover when conducting a background investigation. The U.S. is a big country with approximately 5,700 County courts alone! In order to conduct a background investigation that is both comprehensive and cost-effective, it is important to understand and follow certain basic guidelines to eliminate gaps and maximize the results for your investment.

1. Establish a baseline for your research:

Verify the identity of the applicant. Always start with a social security trace report. Court records (criminal and otherwise) are mostly matched by name and date-of-birth, and/or social security number when available from the court. It is critical to making sure that these identifiers are correct and belong to the applicant so that you can eliminate the possibility of receiving records that do not match your applicant (also known as “false positives”).

Focus your search using an Address History Report. Statistically, the majority of crimes are committed within the county of an offender’s residency (past or present). Knowing where the applicant has maintained residency, even for brief periods of times allows you to commit resources in a cost-effective manner that will produce the best results.

2. What to search:

Start with County Court Records. Based on information provided by the Social Security Trace and Address History reports, conduct a real-time county records search. This involves an actual visit to the court or remote access to the court’s real-time information repository by your background screening company. The information will be accurate as of the day the search is conducted. The minimum search based on residency should go back at least seven years.

Expand the geographic scope of your investigation. Although we have already established that the majority of crimes are committed within the county of an offender’s residency, there is a percentage of crimes committed by “serial criminals”. These are individuals who are methodical and plan their crimes in advance and many will cross county or even state lines to commit their crimes. These individuals may live normal lives by day and travel to commit their crimes to avoid detection. Case in point: We’ve all seen the television “sting” operations on MSNBC. Together with police, they pose as children on internet chat rooms and plan a meeting with the perpetrator to come to the child’s house, where the police are waiting to arrest them. They are almost always coming from neighboring counties or even a neighboring State!

a) Statewide Searches. Depending on the State, these searches pull information from the State repository or Administrative Office of Courts and may include statewide records for all County or Circuit Courts, State Police, incarcerations records, or other State agencies. These are not available in all States, so Check with your background screening company to determine what searches are available.

b) Instant Database Searches. These searches are usually inexpensive, instant and contain electronic information from U.S. territories and state courts, lower and superior courts, state incarceration records, and sex offender registries. Additionally, Federal resources such FBI, DEA, OFAC, Medicare Fraud, etc. and information from other such sources and agencies are usually included.

On the other hand, database searches are also not 100% accurate because, as opposed to the county court search, each individual court/agency that contributes information will decide what is included, how far back the records go, and the information is updated in intervals on either a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis (determined by the individual court). Furthermore, approximately 6% of the courts in the U.S. do not report electronically. Also, because of inaccuracies, the results from this type of report are required to be validated by your background screening company prior to being released to you.

However, since it is not cost effective to conduct a county search in every surrounding county and in every surrounding state, it is accepted practice to supplement your research with a criminal database search.

c) Search the Federal Courts. Although the number of criminal cases in the Federal court system is much fewer, they are usually more severe. Additionally, since some Federal cases originate in state courts, you have an opportunity uncover state level records that may have been missed in the previous steps.

3. Verify Credentials – the “reality check”:

According to The Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM), over 50% of resumes contain false information.

a) Verify Education. If the resume or application provides a college degree or professional certification, check it, even if it is not required for the position. If the applicant cannot be trusted to be truthful when it is not required, then the applicant cannot be trusted when it is required.

Important: Verify that the college or university is actually accredited. There are many well run diploma mills that produce fake degrees without any coursework, but they will also back up their phony degrees and provide verifications and even transcripts!

b) Check with past employers. Contacting past employers allow you gain insight into and verify work experience, such as past projects the applicant claims, as well as the title, salary, and eligibility for rehire. While many employers will limit the information they provide, many are willing to discuss more.

c) Conduct a professional license check. For positions that require a professional license, verify held license status, expiration date, and other information. Also, be ready to check in previous States the applicant has lived. In many cases, individuals who have been barred from working in their profession may jump from State-to-State avoid being caught.

d) Check references. Although applicants will most likely provide names of people that they know will provide a good reference, a smart researcher will ask each reference for the names of at least three “other” people who know the applicant. Usually, these others are not always “preferred” by the applicant and may provide a better insight into the applicant. Additionally, just like the diploma mills, there are services now that provide people with fake references. This step will help to expose them.

In conclusion, when conducting a criminal background check there are no “100% guarantees” that every record will always be found. However, by following these steps you can conduct a thorough background check in a cost-effective manner that will significantly reduce the risk involved in the hiring process.

Brian Williams and the Ever Growing Trend of Resume Fraud

The Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) defines resume fraud as a “job seekers’ intentional inclusion of false information (fabrication), overstatement of otherwise accurate information (embellishment), or omission of relevant information (omission) on resumes in an effort to deceive”. Although Brian Williams may not have been actively job hunting the overstatement of his credentials would certainly contribute to deceive potential employers in the future.

Recent news of Brian Williams’ exaggerations places him among the pantheon of high profile executives who have been caught over the years in the web of embellishing or overstating their accomplishments. A few examples include the infamous case of Notre Dame Football coach George O’Leary who resigned after it was discovered that he had lied for years about lettering in college football and obtaining a master’s degree from New York University, and Sandra Baldwin, President of the United States Olympic Committee, who stepped down in 2002 over educational inaccuracies on her resume. There are many others, too many to be listed in this article, but you get the picture. Unfortunately, the problem is much more pervasive than most people think, and not just among high-level executives, but among the rank and file workforce.

In a 2012 study, SHRM reported that 53% of resumes and job applications contained falsifications. [1] In the same year, ADP reported that “46 % of employment, education and/or credential reference checks conducted revealed discrepancies between what the applicant provided and what the source reported.” [2]. Two of the 2012 SHRM study’s key findings stood out for me:

  • Job seekers who had committed deviant acts in the past were more likely to have fraudulent resumes, and
  • Job seekers with lower levels of moral identity were more likely to commit resume fraud.

In comparison to a 2002 survey conducted by executive search firm Christian & Timbers which revealed that “23% of executives misrepresent accomplishments”[3], the numbers have practically doubled.

So what is the cost to business? According to Corter Consulting, the cost for these deceptions can range from $3,637 up to $532,500 per employee, depending on their job level! [4] This reflects the estimated cost of turnover only and not the impact to a company’s reputation, its customers, and company morale. Interestingly, they quote the Harvard Business Review who found that “80% of employee turnover stems from mistakes made during the hiring process.”

These findings highlight the necessity to expand pre-employment background checks beyond the scope of criminal records to include education, credential, past employment, and reference verifications. Only then is it possible to gain a complete picture of the person you are hiring.

Albert Einstein once said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”. If a person lists a job, degree, or experience on their resume, even if it is not required for the job they apply, verify it. If an applicant is willing to “exaggerate” about any of this, what else will he “exaggerate” about?

[1] Resume Fraud: Investigations of the Antecedents and Consequences of Fabrication, Embellishment, and Omission

[2] Resume Falsification Statistics

[3] With a Surge In Hiring Around The Corner, Companies Need To Be On the Lookout For Resume Falsification

[4] INFOGRAPHIC – What’s the Cost of Employee Turnover? Corter Consulting