Thursday, September 24, 2009

Argument For Conducting Background Checks On Job Applicants

Job applicants sometimes express concern about employers request to conduct personal background checks, which may include information on their marital, dating and credit history. They argue that such information maybe misused once it became public.

Employers, on the other hand, argue that conducting personal background checks give them a feel for the applicant’s character. Personal and professional references are a good starting point, however, experts in the investigative field caution employers on using this method alone.

Prospective employees are obviously going to give references of people whom they trust will provide a good character reference for them. Those references may not necessarily be fabricating information regarding the applicant; they simply may not know pertinent information about him or her. Other ways that a prospective employee background may be checked are:
  • An employer may also obtain a credit report on the prospective employee. While privacy advocates have questioned the necessity of reviewing credit reports, many employers find them as useful source of information on what types of credit accounts the applicant has open and their history of paying bills on time.
  • For some employers, this is a good indicator of how responsible a prospective employee will be. Employers also may draw a correlation between credit history, job performance and employee retention. Though these conclusions are heatedly debated, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers do have the right to investigate much of a person’s credit history as a pre-employment tool.
  • Credit reports also contain pertinent job and address information. Some employers and private investigation firms use credit reports as a means of cross-referencing information supplied on the employment application, but it should be used with other personal background check methods in order to have a comprehensive view of the applicant’s character and ability to perform his duties.
  • Credit report often report data on age and marital status. Employers should already be familiar with privacy and equal opportunity legislation and be careful not to discriminate on the basis of these facts; limiting their use of such data to ensuring the safety and security of the company without violating Federal laws.
  • Identity theft, criminal prosecutions, outstanding debt and bankruptcies are all examples of information that can be acquired through a personal background check. It is the responsibility of the employer to only gather what information is needed to ensure the safety and security of the company, and as a tool to judge the character and job performance of the employee.
  • If an employer should need a more extensive background check, things such as who the employee has dated, use of alcohol or drugs or personal lifestyle can also be obtained. Such information is usually gathered by interviewing his neighbors, friends, associates, former co-workers and others to gain a picture of the applicant as a whole.
  • When investigating a prospective employee’s background, it is good business practice to be honest about your intentions. Federal law requires employers to provide separate consent forms for each type of investigation to be conducted. Additionally, background checks on employees can save companies money by avoiding potential lawsuits, theft, and costly employee retention.

It is advisable to outsource the background investigation to a private firm, if the information required is very detailed. For some employers, searching at the local or state level is much more cost-effective and may produce the results they need without outsourcing.

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