There are many types of pre-employment background checks being conducted today, with employers using a mix of those that best suit their needs. Some of the more common types are discussed below.
Some people include false employment history on their resumes. Employers frequently discover lies embellishing job responsibilities. Other frequent falsehoods involve skill set, dates of employment, previous employers, and job titles and roles. HR professionals should contact previous employers to verify:
- Dates of employment.
- Job title(s).
- Duties performed.
- Circumstances of separation.
Listing academic degrees never obtained or educational institutions never attended are also common resume falsehoods. One high-profile case involved the admissions dean for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who resigned after it came to light that she had claimed to possess three degrees she had not actually earned. Similarly, a former CEO of RadioShack resigned after executives discovered he had falsely claimed to have two degrees from a college in California.
Increased use of criminal background checks by employers to prescreen job applicants stems from the growth of claims alleging that an employer was negligent in hiring or retaining an employee who subsequently engaged in workplace violence or some other act that resulted in harm to a person (e.g., sexual assault) or property (e.g., theft). Many organizations also perform criminal background checks on current employees, either as a matter of course or prior to a promotion, transfer, or other change in the terms and conditions of employment.
Companies that use criminal background checks should examine and understand the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) related guidance.
Generally, it is not practical for employers to perform criminal background checks in-house. The result has been the emergence of third-party service providers whose business is to conduct background screening for employers. These providers, as a rule, are better equipped to conduct thorough and accurate background screening, assuming they adhere to certain guidelines and practices.
Motor vehicle records
Employers should always check the driving record of any individual who will operate an organization vehicle at any time or who will drive personal or rental vehicles on company business. A motor vehicle record typically lists license status, license class, expiration date, traffic violations, arrests and convictions for driving under the influence, and license suspensions or cancellations.
Specific industry mandates
For some jobs, federal or state law may require a background investigation. These include jobs in health care, child care, education and public transportation, among others. Employers will want to check with legal counsel for compliance requirements in the states in which they have employees.
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