Wanted to start your Monday off right by sharing a story with all of our clients and friends who perform (or don’t perform) background checks on new hires and employees.
Here’s how it started…
Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine who, I’ll call Nora, assumed a new role in the HR department at a rapidly growing organization. As one of her first initiatives, Nora wanted to review the current background screening process to ensure it met important $40 per year for unlimited access to background checks via a well-known online background screening site. She also learned that, generally speaking, the results from the site appear to satisfy the leaders in the organization and they, of course, love the price. Without knowing much more at this point, Nora gives me a call.
Nora tells me her organization may not be performing effective background checks, but she certainly does not want to make any assumptions at this point as the “newbie” (understandably so), but the process appears flawed on the surface to her. She felt her “problem radar” going off immediately after seeing the price. She asks what I think. Naturally, I ask her what kind of background check they are getting for $40 per year. She wasn’t sure about that and it was not clear through any of her research on the website thus far.
Right away, I tell her they are most likely receiving some sort of multijurisdictional database search, often called a “national search” depending on who you talk to. Knowing that Nora will not fully understand what this means, I further explained the details of this pointer search as covering an estimated 2500+ jurisdictions in the United States – not all of them – and that the data received can be described as 3000 miles wide and three inches deep (as opposed to a county criminal search which I might describe as 3 inches wide and 3000 feet deep). In a nutshell, the multi-jurisdictional criminal search covers a large area, but the information returned is limited and typically inaccurate, incomplete and not up-to-date. Compare this to a county criminal search which covers a lot less area but the information returned is complete, accurate and up-to-date. I continue explaining the advantages of performing multi-jurisdictional searches in conjunction with other searches and the disadvantages of performing them as a stand-alone search. Does it save money to perform ONLY a multi-jurisdictional? Sure. Will it reveal an accurate and complete criminal history on a person? Absolutely not–not even close. Nora asked what kind of background check I would recommend.
Before I could answer with a recommendation, I needed to know what is driving the background checks in the first place and what her objectives are, so I can provide meaningful feedback. There are many different types of background screening services you can purchase from a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), each one typically revealing something different. She answers it is important that her company be performing a best practices, due diligence background screen but without breaking the bank. Perfect. Though Chane does not provide legal advice, we are always happy to point clients and prospects in the right direction based on their needs. We went back and forth for a bit discussing the different options and customized a package that achieved a low-risk balance between depth and cost. There were parts of the package that would automatically be performed such as a social security trace, multi-jurisdictional search and a current residential search for an applicant or employee. Then, there was a secondary part of the package which would allow for approvals prior to adding alias names and/or previous residential jurisdictions if they appear on the social security trace. (This approach would help control for budget.)
Long story short, Nora is convinced that their current low-cost, potentially high-risk option does not meet her best practice standard for performing a due diligence background check. After some collaborative thought and conversations with her co-leadership team (mostly relating to paying a little more than they do for a more in-depth check), she switches over to Chane the same day we have our conversation. We complete the set up in just a day or two and she begins performing her first few background checks right away.
Here is where the moral of the story comes in.
She compares the result of the first few checks completed through Chane to the results of the same checks performed through their alternative vendor that they had been using. The most material finding? In just the first three checks, Chane returned results very different than the alternative vendor for one applicant who we will call Maria Dantuther. More specifically, the alternative vendor returned Maria’s background check as CLEAR. On the other hand, Chane located a robbery case in which Maria (very shockingly) was sentenced to twelve years in prison and was just released recently. And that was in just one county that was searched as part of the background check. Another county revealed a 2015 possession case and a third county showed a felony unauthorized use of motor vehicle case with an active warrant.
Needless to say, Nora and her team’s decision to perform a more comprehensive check at an affordable price was worth it. Had their company not discovered this criminal history, and decided (after an individualized assessment of course), that the applicant was not the best fit for the position, there is a high probability that this applicant could have caused harm to employees or their workplace if brought onboard which could have led to unforeseen amounts of litigation from many angles.
Moral of the story?
Ask questions about the type of background check you are getting. The same background check is not the right background check for every company or even every position within a company. Speak with your vendor (even if it isn’t Chane) and ensure you know what you are getting for your money – or not getting for your money. Find out the details of the services that are being performed, what action is being taken (or not taken) on your social security trace and/or what could potentially be missed based on the type of background check you are performing. Remember that many criminal checks are name-based and checking aliases is instrumental in achieving an accurate check. There are customizable packages available through Chane which can help achieve a balance between depth and budget and assist your organization with avoiding negligent hiring litigation and/or, for staffing and recruiting companies out there, not losing clients due to an inadequate background check as well. In short, the end result of doing your homework could be priceless. (Pun intended).
Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have questions regarding your background screening program or simply want to chat about your current process. I am always happy to help and our customer service team is second to none! At Chane Solutions, we have the expertise needed to guide your business through the background screening process. To learn more about how our flexible, cost-effective screening services can help you make better hires, contact our experts today.