Due Diligence and The $50.00 background check.

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Due Diligence and  The $50.00 background check.

You have seen them on the web, you get offers them in the email.  Quick easy solutions for your hiring needs.  Enterprise solutions and pricing available for national accounts!  Wow, that sounds great, doesn’t it?

I think they got their marketing message from the old pitchmen on MadMen. The pitch is over the top, over claiming, and flat wrong.  If you sold insurance or diet pills like this you would be on your way to jail. Yet are not comprehensive background checks something like insurance and keeping a company healthy?  You are taking the time to research a person’s background to make sure they are who they say they are and not an ax wielding mass murderer, an accomplished embezzler, with ebola.  You are addressing the risk of hiring and lowering the risk of making a bad choice.  I got it, and I applaud the idea.  I condemn the choice of the cheap and cheerful background that in the end is neither.  There are 3,143 counties in the US. The courts in these counties usually subdivided into criminal, civil, family and probate courts.  This does not include the tens of thousands of justice courts, municipal courts, federal courts, tax courts; etc… at one a guess was there was over 17,000 different courts in the United States.  Here is another clue, not all of them are computerized and a large number of them are not online.  Of the online courts many charge a fee to search the court’s records. The fee can be a few dollars to as high as $45.00. Economically  those courts are excluded by any “cheap and cheerful”  nationwide background check.

In addition several states prohibit criminal records searches prior to hiring. Assuming you had access to the courts, given your reasons for searching the courts – your permission to use the information maybe prohibited by law, or you may find yourself liable for breaching a state law is so accessed and used.  Ok, it is not a bright set of law that imposes these restrictions – but it is what it is.

So – you want to do a background check on some one before you hire them, good.  Take you time and hire a professional background screener or private investigator.  Provide the professional with the full application and resume.   Verify prior employment, educational credentials, any and all licenses, and check public records where you can.  There is a host of data suppliers open to the professional community that are inexpensive and do a good job at following a person as they move about the country from school, to job to profession.  Theses are a start, but are only a tertiary set of records, one has to get to the primary set of records for the correct information.  If about twenty percent of credit reports have errors and people can access and correct their credit reports, how bad can some of the data bases be – the answers is worse.

There is now some issues with social media.  You will need to screen their social media.  Even if it is just a quick look, you need to check.   Is this an invasion of their privacy – maybe, but if they posted it to the pubic – all issues of privacy are moot.

About one fifth of resumes contain material errors or significant omissions.  It is estimated that it takes the equivalent of from 6 to 9 months of training for a new employee to become familiar with and effective in a new position.  Even if the position is only paying $20,000 per year, is a few hundred dollars a wise investment to avoid a wasted $10,000 loss. A $10,000 useless expenditure that sends you back to hire again – and you repeat the same thought and process errors.

Hiring is important. You are choosing people to help your firm, not destroy your firm and add large useless expenses along the way.  Making serial wrong choices with a systemic process errors increases you cost of labor, decrease labor’s over all productivity and ads a significant cost.

The cheap and cheerful background is a fool’s choice.  It reminds me a bit of discount plastic surgery.


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