Background Checks and Electronic References

In the never ending efforts by employers to identify candidates that are a good fit and qualified, a new internet tool has been developed to allow employers to utilize email to accelerate the process of obtaining references and assessments from past supervisors and others that know the applicant. The best example is

Questions have arisen as to how such a tool is related to the background screening process that employers utilize in order to exercise due diligence.  In fact, the two processes, although related in some ways, are entirely separate workflows that occur at different times in the hiring process and for different reasons.

Internet based references can be utilized by an employer to whittle down the field of candidates and to help an employer decide whom to hire.  Background checks occur after an employer has made a tentative decision, and needs to determine whether there is any reason NOT to hire an applicant.

When past employment checks are done as part of the background check process, the purpose is to verify that the employer actually exists and to independently verify the core details of employment, such as job title and dates.  In other words, there is a large difference between obtaining references before a hiring decsion is made, which are a qualitative measure of an applicant’s fit and abilities, and factual verification of an applicant’s employment history, which is a critical due diligence task.  Both processes can be useful in the quest to select the best candidates to hire and to avoid bad choices.  However, electronic references cannot be considered due diligence, given that they are so easily faked and depends entirely upon the applciant giving good data in the first place.