Don’t Forget the Background Check!

by Jason Elrick
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Remember that saying we used when we were kids, “Liar, liar, pants on fire”? Few things feel as bad as when we spend a lot of time on a project, only to watch at the last minute as the entire thing goes up in flames. That’s what happened to me with Anita*.

A company contacted us with a job order, and the client and I spent hours which turned into months on the recruitment process. We reviewed, screened, and interviewed a number of top candidates before they made a selection. The company presented an offer to the top candidate, Anita, who accepted the offer immediately. As you can imagine, we all were weary of the time-consuming hiring process and couldn’t wait to complete the final stage of the hire–the drug screen and background check. Background checks vary, but this company wanted us to verify the candidate’s education, as well as to check the usual criminal and civil records.

Out of all the factors that had concerned me, Anita’s background check wasn’t one of them. Anita had assured both me and the company that she had graduated from college with her bachelor’s degree. So imagine my surprise and disappointment when the check revealed that Anita had lied on her resume, to me personally, and to the company. She had never graduated with the bachelor’s degree she claimed to have earned. Months of hard work on the part of myself and the company instantly went up in smoke.

Looking back, I wish I had stressed more to Anita that we would be running a background and education check, along with a drug screen. (I probably overemphasize it now!) Because we deal with top professionals every day, it’s easy to assume that candidates are being truthful, but of course that isn’t always the case, even when we warn candidates that we will be checking up on what they tell us.

Wouldn’t our job be easier if candidates’ noses would grow and their pants would burst into flames when they misrepresent the truth? But because they don’t, warning candidates up front is still the best way to try to prevent someone from burning up our time. Employers, in your initial screening process and/or interview, make it a point to emphasize to every candidate that you will be running a background check on all the areas that matter to you, especially on education if you intend to acquire a degreed candidate.

Candidates, please know that we do run background checks and drug screens on final candidates, so anything that would hinder a professional from getting a position will surface. Please don’t lie and waste everyone’s time, including your own. Learn from Anita’s mistake—not only did she not get hired, but her lie is forever recorded in our system and the company’s which thought it wanted to hire her. In other words, don’t forget the background check!

Candidates, read more about lies that will get you caught–and how to make the truth sound better!

*All names and some details are changed to protect anonymity

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