Tag Archives: Technology

Using Online Referencing Tools and Background Checks to Optimize Employee Selection – Part 1

Part 1

By Lester Rosen, ESR President

Identifying applicants that are the right fit and have the right knowledge, skill, and abilities to do the job is a perennial challenge for employers. In pre-industrial society, the problem was generally solved by either hiring someone that the employer knew, basing the hiring decision upon a personal recommendation, or using an apprenticeship type program that gave an employer a great deal of insight into who they were hiring.

While these approaches are still in use today, it is no longer possible to match millions of applicants and jobs based upon the employer having a pre-existing relationship with applicants. Additional approaches such as using the internet to find good candidates have developed.  Since every time an employer hires a stranger, it is somewhat of a “leap of faith,” employers need tools to make good decisions. Employers are seeking ways to determine who the person really is and what the person has done in the past, as predictors of how they will perform. Although past is not always prolog, past performance says a great deal about how a person may be expected to perform in the future. Employers also want a means to “look under the hood” at applicants rather than just accepting them at face value.

Every hire represents a significant investment and – simultaneously– a significant risk. A bad hire can result in a legal and financial nightmare. Bad hires cost an employer a great deal in terms of time wasted recruiting, hiring and training, and searching for a replacement, not to mention the job not being done. A bad hiring decision can also lead to litigation for negligent hiring, if the new employee turns out to be unfit, dishonest, or dangerous, and someone is harmed. To add insult to injury, when the bad hire is eventually terminated, employers need to deal with the possibility of a wrongful termination lawsuit even if the firing is entirely justified.

In order to evaluate the various hiring tools, it is essential to understand that the hiring process occurs on a time line. Each step of the continuum carries its own set of legal implications. Matching your hiring tools to the proper stage of the time line is key to sorting out the best applicants AND to helping prevent a bad hire. The available tools of the hiring process can roughly be divided in seven stages as follows:

  • 1. Sourcing stage: This is the process of gathering potential applicants through a variety of means that can include inbound applications from job boards, websites, newspapers, or outbound efforts, such as recruiters seeking passive candidates;
  • 2. Preliminary screening stage: In order to narrow down the applicant pool, there is a preliminary screening primarily based upon the applicants’ self-stated qualifications, conveyed by the resumes or applications or newer tools such as video websites;
  • 3. Assessment stage: This stage can include the interviewing process to further narrow down the field of candidates, as well as numerous other assessment tools, ranging from objective testing to references from past employers or supervisors, or various other testing methods;
  • 4. Decision process stage: Here, the employer has narrowed the pool to one, two, or three finalists and is moving toward a conditional job offer based upon an internal decision-making process;
  • 5. Background checking stage: At this point, either a conditional job offer has been made or is contemplated, and the employer needs to exercise due diligence, typically through a background screening firm, to determine if there is any reason NOT to hire the candidate. The emphasis of a background screening firm at this point is a factual verification of details such as job title and dates;
  • 6. The post offer/pre-hire stage: This is where an employer is able for the first time, if they so choose, to address such areas as pre-employment physicals;
  • 7. The post hire/on boarding stage: This is where an employer, for example, can complete the form I-9 process.

These seven stages illustrate a clear demarcation between efforts pointed at deciding who to hire, and efforts directed at deciding who NOT to hire. This is where evaluation of the pros and cons of the hiring tools comes into play.

Background checks, for instance, are of little assistance in stages 1 through 5. That is because a traditional background check is only performed on finalists, where, by definition, an employer has already made a tentative decision to either hire or place that person in the group of finalists. Background checks are used to decide who NOT to hire.

Are there other tools available besides background checks for sorting through the pool of applicants? Yes. One of the most interesting new tools is for online automated reference checks and assessments.

An example is the offering of Checkster, a company founded by a veteran in the talent management sector. Job candidates select references, such as former supervisions and co-workers, who then get an assessment request emailed to them. It’s self-service. Eliminated are the time spent making phone calls and waiting for and tracking responses. The references simply fill out an email questionnaire. The questionnaire itself is a scientifically designed assessment instrument that gives a fresh look at the applicant and contains a number of state-of-the-art validation tools. The results are communicated back to a recruiter or hiring manager in a graphical and intuitive report. Although there are others competing in the same space, Checkster clearly has thought through and designed the process from both the assessment and talent management point of view.

The end result of using such a tool is that the reference can quickly respond to an email, and time is not wasted on playing phone tag or managing follow-ups. The employer obtains a candid assessment because the person giving the reference is advised that the actual scores are confidential. Through Checkster’s processes, the email evaluations provide a scientific assessment of what is “under the candidate’s hood” – thus increasing the employer’s odds of making a job offer to the best candidate.

However, the question has arisen from some hiring managers: “Can services like Checkster replace the type of employment verifications performed by background firms?”

Read more in Part 2.

For more information about background checks and employment verifications, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Source: http://www.recruitingtrends.com/optimizing-employee-selection-by-using-online-referencing-tools-and-background-checks

ESR Releases Free Online Structured Interview Generator Tool Available to Employers, Recruiters and Human Resources

By Lester Rosen, ESR President

(Originally posted on HR.Tolbox.com)

A new free online tool allows employers to easily create custom interview guides with an interview generator form.

One of the problems that face employers of all sizes is preparing for interviews. Most recruiters, human resources professionals and hiring managers are now familiar with the notion of a structured interview. Using a “structured interview” guide during applicant interviews helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a position.

Of course, in addition to standard interview questions, employers need to add job specific questions that stem from the job description and the knowledge, skills and abilities required for a position, as well as the essential functions of the job. That is yet another reason why well written job description is so critical in the hiring process.

In order to assist employers in preparing structured interviews, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) has released the ESR Interview Guide Generator, a free web based interview generator to help employers build printed interview forms for any position. The wizard tool allows employers to select from generic interview questions, or to create their own questions, put the questions in the order they need and then create a printed form that can be saved or modified.

This free tool solves several issues for employers. It helps employers, recruiters and HR professionals produce a printed structured interview guide and focus on developing relevant questions for each position. Printed interview forms also help employers ensure that interviewers are asking the right questions every time, in the right way. Using a “structured interview” guide helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a position. An employer should only choose those questions that are valid predictors of job performance for a particular position.

The ESR Interview Guide Generator tool is available at no charge online at: http://www.esrcheck.com/Interviewgenerator.php.

The tool allows employers to choose from standard interview questions, or to create their own questions. Questions are grouped into sections and are displayed on the completed form within these groups. An employer may customize however they want, including adding custom questions, or changing the sections that the chosen questions are placed.

Once the interview is built online, the Finish tab will display the interview form. When the employer is ready, they can click the print button on the Finish tab. The free tool does not save the form so it should be pasted onto a WORD document for future reference.

The sample questions listed are questions that appear in various public sources suggesting commonly used interview questions. By use of the “Custom Question” section at the end, an employer can create any questions they wish and put them into any section they wish. ESR offers no legal opinion whatsoever if any question is legal or appropriate. An employer should contact its attorney if there are any questions as to the legality of any interview question. This information is provided for educational purposes and general assistance only and is not offered or intended as legal advice.

For more information about employment screening, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Source:

http://hr.toolbox.com/blogs/background-checks/free-online-structured-interview-generator-tool-available-to-employers-recruiters-and-human-resources-40291

Employment Screening Resources and Taleo Business Edition Join Forces for Integrated Background Screening

By Jared Callahan, Employment Screening Resources

Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national employment screening firm, announced completion of its integration with Taleo Business Editionâ„¢. This new integration provides a simplified, paperless technology solution to perform legally compliant employment background checks.

Taleo Business Edition(c)  is the leading on-demand talent management solution for companies with up to 5,000 employees. Taleo Business Edition helps small to mid-size organizations around the world find, develop and retain top talent by simplifying recruiting, performance and compensation management with unmatched flexibility.

The integration of Taleo Business Edition and Employment Screening Resources allows employers to initiate a completely paperless background checks with the click of a mouse, allowing for the fastest possible turn-around time with the least amount of effort. Featuring single sign-on and the ability to view report status in real-time, employers, HR departments and recruiters can leverage the Taleo solution with the latest legally-compliant background screening technology.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the firm that literally wrote the book on background checks, The Safe Hiring Manual, and provides pre-employment screening services and drug testing internationally. The firm specializes in legal compliance expertise, as well as industry-leading technology, service, accuracy and turn-around.

“Through the Taleo Business Edition integration, Employment Screening Resources can provide the most advanced and legally compliant screening solutions to our mutual clients,” commented Jared Callahan, Director of Marketing for ESR, and a national speaker on topics related to safe hiring. “Employers can harness this advanced technology and no longer need to handle physical pieces of paper, go to different software systems or worry about legal compliance.”

About Employment Screening Resources: Employment Screening Resources (ESR), is a safe hiring partner and provides REAL background checks, not cheap database shortcuts or off-shoring that endangers privacy. ESR specializes in legal compliance and provides industry leading technology, service, accuracy and turnaround. Contact: Jared Callahan for additional information at 415-898-0044 or by email jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

SimpleHR and Employment Screening Resources Announces Partnership

 By Jared Callahan, Employment Screening Resources

SimpleHR, the leading HR Software globally for small business, and Employment Screening Resources , a leading national employment screening background checking firm announced they have partnered for the purpose of providing additional industry leading human resources solutions.

SimpleHR is a comprehensive human resources software solution for small to mid-sized business and was recently voted #1 on CNN’s List of Top 5 HR Tech Products for Small Business.  Employment Screening Resources is the firm that literally wrote the book on background checks, The Safe Hiring Manual, and provides pre-employment screening services and drug testing internationally. ESR specializes in legal compliance expertise and industry leading technology, service, accuracy and turnaround.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with SimpleHR,” commented Lester Rosen, President of Employment Screening Resources and author of the Safe Hiring Manual, the first comprehensive book on background checks. “Background screening is a critical part of the process of identifying the best employees and is a perfect complement to the state-of-the-art solution offered by SimpleHR.”

 

Commenting on the partnership, SimpleHR’s CEO, Edward Samadhin added that “combining SimpleHR software with Employment Screening Resources means that companies can now hire the best people and use the software to effectively manage top performers.”

About SimpleHR: 

SimpleHR (http://www.simplehr.ca) is the world’s leading HR software for small business and is sold in over 25 countries globally.  Contact Tony Brown for more information at: tbrown@ajivacorp.com

About ESR: 

Employment Screening Resources (http://www.esrcheck.com) is a safe hiring partner that provides REAL background checks with no short cuts. ESR specializes in legal compliance and provides industry leading technology, service, accuracy and turnaround.   With ESR employers get backgrond check experts protecting their workplace.  The book, The Safe Hiring Manual, is available at http://www.backgroundchecktraining.com/Safe-Hiring-Manual.asp Contact: Jared Callahan for additional information at 415-898-0044 or at: jcallahan@ESRcheck.com

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Releases New Resource Center for “All Things Background Checks”

By Jared Callahan, Employment Screening Resources

Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national employment screening firm announced today the release of a Resource Center on its web site, containing “All Things Background Checks.” 

The new feature is intended to provide one  centralized location for ESR clients to keep current on the critical task of hiring a workforce that is safe and effective.  The site also allows Employers, Human Resources and Security Professionals, Recruiters and Job Applicants to locate resources on screening and to keep current on evolving issues affecting hiring by going to just one site.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the firm that literally wrote the book on background checks, The Safe Hiring Manual, and provides pre-employment screening services and drug testing internationally.  The firm specializes in legal compliance expertise and industry leading technology, service, accuracy and turnaround. 

The new Resource Center starts with twelve icons, each directing users to a different area, including sections on whitepapers by ESR, Legal Resources, books, courses and even a section for job applicants.  One of the features includes access to ESR’s proprietary summary of staff opinion letters issued by the Federal Trade Commission.  The ESR blog, which is updated frequently, ensures that users of the site are updated on the latest trends and legal developments when it comes to safe hiring.  

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to provide this critically important information to employers and consumers,” commented Jared Callahan, Director of Marketing, and a national speaker on topics related to safe hiring.  “Background screening is a critical part of the process in identifying the best employees and with this new Resource Center, employers may simply go to just one site to find the information they need.”

See: http://www.esrcheck.com/Resources/

Off shoring IT jobs lead to dramatic increases in Data Breaches per survey

By Les Rosen, Employment Screening Resources

A recent survey quoted in Security Management Magazine demonstrates the risk to privacy and data protection when it comes to “off shoring.”  According to a new survey, of the firms that outsourced IT jobs to other counties, about half indicted that their security has been negatively impacted. And 61 percent indicated their company had experienced a data breach.  The study noted data breaches occurred in just 35 percent of the companies that do not send IT jobs outside of the U.S.  The story, and more information about the study,  is available at:  http://www.securitymanagement.com/article/outsourcing-risk-006564 

This survey naturally raises questions as to the safety of sending Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of American job applicants off shore in order to prepare background checks.  A group  called ConcernedCRA now has more than 120 screening firms that have signed on to a standard that opposes sending Personally Identifiable Information (PII) offshore beyond U.S. privacy laws to be processed.  See http://www.concernedcras.com/.  A bill was introduced into Congress in June 2009 that would limit the offshoring of data without notice in the financial sector.  A shocking undercover investigation by the BBC in 2009 showed just how easy it was to purchase PII from a call center in India. Of course, identity theft can occur in the U.S., but once data physically goes beyond U.S. privacy laws, consumers have less resources and recourses. 

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does NOT send U. S. applicant information outside of the U.S. for processing.  ESR takes the position that once data leaves the U.S., the data is beyond the reach of U.S. privacy laws and there is no meaningful recourse for a U.S. consumer.  ESR does all processing and preparation in the U.S.  in order to protect applicants and employers.  In some countries, it is a well known fact that U.S. identities are stolen and used for identity theft.  As a practical matter, someone in the U.S. has no ability to hire a lawyer in a foreign country to pursue legal action or contact a foreign police authority to get any action taken.  The only exception is where ESR is asked to perform an international verification and the information resides outside of the U.S.  Even in that situation, ESR goes to great length to protect applicant data. 

The bottom-line:  Before selecting a screening firm determine if that firm is processing information outside of the U.S. The risk is significant, even if the off shore facility is wholly owned or a subsidiary of a U. S. firm. An employer needs to have a full understanding of how data and privacy is protected once it leaves the U.S., and what duty is owed to job applicants in terms of notice that their data is going abroard.

Increased technology and the end of paper and faxing for employment screening

By Les Rosen, Employment Screening Resources

2010 Trends in Screening Trend Six: 

With advances in database technology, and the general acceptance of the HR-xml standardization for database integrations, it appears that the use of paper and faxes is coming to an end.  Not that “Going Paperless” is exactly a new development. Employment Screening Resources, for instance, has offered a totally paperless background check solution to its clients since 2006.  However, integrations between background screening and other applications, such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), or Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) may have reached a tipping point, so that the adoption will be at a faster rate.

It can also help solve issues concerning date of birth. Because of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, some employers are hesitant to ask for date of birth.  That creates potential issues since background screening generally requires an applicant’s date of birth in order to establish identity during criminal searches.  However, the EEOC has made it clear that asking for date of birth is not prohibited, but should be approached carefully and requested in such a way that does not deter older applicants. With online system sensitive information such as a date of birth or social security number can be obtained directly from the applicant so that an employer is never in possession of that information pre-hire.

(Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national online employment screening background firm, is releasing the ESR Third Annual Top Ten Trends in the Pre-Employment Background Screening Industry for 2010. This is the SIXTH of the ten trends ESR will be tracking in 2010.)

Job Applicants and Online Employee Background Screening Software

A recent post on an HR blog concerned an applicant who was directed online to web-based background screening software to fill out information, finding it took 80 minutes. Not surprisingly, this applicant was not pleased with the amount of time and effort it took to fill out on online background form. Such dissatisfaction can actually lead to qualified applicants going elsewhere. See: http://www.risesmart.com/risesmart/blog/feeling-dissected-by-pre-employment-screening-software/

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)  believes that an applicant’s time is valuable and the online system for a background check should respect the applicant and reflect the value the employer places upon recruiting qualified candidates. The ESR system, for example, only takes a few minutes of an applicant’s time to fill out online. It only asks those questions that are strictly necessary for the screening an employer wants and does not waste time by asking for information that is not needed for the screening involved. It also transfers information already put into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), if the ATS is able to send it. Also, all work is done in the US in a professional environment, and not sent offshore or into private homes for processing, so applicant privacy and data protection is much greater. Applicants that have had a negative experience with using online background screening systems to fill out their own data may want to suggest that the employer look at other systems, such as the ESR system at: http://www.esrcheck.com/Applicant_Generated_Reports.php

Annual Top Ten Trends in the Background Screening Industry

ESR has identified the following trends for 2009 in its second annual report on trends in the screening industry and safe hiring.  The full report is online at:  http://www.esrcheck.com/2009-trends-backgroundscreening-industry.php

  1. Increased Governmental Mandates: The federal and state governments for 2009 are likely to require more background checks, especially in sensitive industries.  In addition, right-to-work verification under the E-verify program will be a hot topic for 2009.
     
  2. Privacy and Accuracy:  Privacy advocates in 2009 will be focused on resolving instances of noncompliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirements for accuracy and dispute investigations.  A leading cause of inaccuracies comes from matching innocent job applicants to criminal records based upon the same, or a similar, name in a database, without re-verification of the record at the courthouse.  A new organization called Concerned CRA’s (www.concernedcras.com) has taken a stance against utilizing such databases without taking proper measures to ensure accuracy of criminal records.
  3. Second Chance for Ex-Offenders: Unless as a society we want to build more prisons than schools or hospitals, something must be done to reduce recidivism and find employment for applicants with criminal records.  The State of New York, for example, to deal with this issue directly, has passed new â second chance” laws that became effective this year. The laws place a greater emphasis on employers analyzing a past criminal record to determine whether there is a business justification to not hire a person, including providing job applicants with notice of these various new rights.
  4. Consumer Protection Litigation:  As the screening industry matures, and applicants and their lawyers become much more informed about their consumer rights, it is likely that there will be an increase in litigation in 2009.  These lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, will be filed against screening firms, particularly when it comes to various notices required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and accuracy requirements for the Background Screening Report results.
  5. Impact of the Recession: As a result of the recession and higher unemployment, it is likely that employers will need to scrutinize applications even more carefully, to be on the watch for fraudulent credentials, such as inflated or fictional employment or education history.
  6. Data Security, Data Breaches, and Off-shoring Data: Since identity theft continues to be a national and international problem, expect even more emphasis in 2009 on data security and protection.  Closely related is the continuing issue of employers and screening firms sending confidential consumer data offshore for processing to places such as India for cost savings.  Once data leaves the United States, it is beyond U.S. privacy protections.  Concerned CRR’s (www.concernedcras.com) has also taken a stance against off-shoring such data without notification to consumers.  The use of home-operator networks also presents an unnecessary risk to privacy as well.  There is no justification for personal information to be spread across kitchen tables and dorm rooms across America.
     
  7. Accreditation by the NAPBS: The non-profit trade organization for the Screening Industry, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (www.napbs.com) has announced the introduction of an accreditation program.  NAPBS has gone through an exhaustive process to develop “Best Practices” for the industry, and it is anticipated that firms will start going through the accreditation process this year.
  8. Social Network Sites:  The use of social networking sites as a pre-employment screening device will continue to be a hot topic in 2009, as more recruiters and HR professionals go online to satisfy their curiosity about candidates.  The problem: contrary to popular belief, just because it is online does not mean that it’s a good idea to utilize it without developing policies and procedures.  Online material can be inaccurate, discriminatory, and under certain circumstances, its use can be an invasion of privacy.  Stay tuned as more courts give their opinions on this issue.
  9. Integration of Services:  With the advent of Web 2.0, it is likely that technology will play an even bigger role in the coming year.  Seamless integrations with Applicant Tracking Systems allow paperless background screening systems at the click of a mouse.
  10. International Background Checks: With mobility of workers across international borders, Due Diligence is no longer limited to just what an applicant has done in the United States and there will be stronger demand in 2009 for International Criminal, Education, and past Employment checks.

 

ESR will place its Third Annual Top Ten Trends in January, 2010.

Background checks and job boards do not always mix

On the surface, it is easy to see why a job board may see the  appeal in an excluisve integration with a background firm.   The idea is that an employer can use the job board to find the candidate and at the same time, perform a background check through the partner background firm.  From a business development perspective, it looks like a good arrangement for both the job board and the screening firm, and gives the job board an additional stream of revenue.  

The reality however, may turn out to be much different.  First, very knowledgeable observers of the recruiting world have predicted rough waters ahead for the big job boards.  The July 6, 2009 edition of Business Week noted that the job boards are losing ground to sites such as LinkedIn, Craigslist and Twitter among others.  According to one expert quoted in the article, “The big boards have peaked.”  

What that means is that recruiters are finding candidates from numerous sources.  Since all candidates need to be screened in a similar  fashion to prevent claims of disparate treatment, it make little sense to utilize  background services offered through just  one  job board for some candidates and to make other arrangements for all other candidates.  There is a lot to be said for uniformity of treatment of candidates.  

These types of tie-in arrangements also assume that Human Resources professionals are swayed in large numbers simply by the fact that there is a built –in economic association.  However, most HR professionals have an understanding that just because one firm enters into a business development deal with another does not mean that HR is getting the best deal or that their needs are being meet.  HR professionals do not sacrifice their own due diligence and blindly accept the recommended partner.  

The smart move for job boards that want to retain traffic, service thier clients  and increase business would be to allow employers to do their employment screening with whatever background firm the employer chooses.  That would make a job board even more valualbe as part of the hiring process.  Through standard integration tools, that is something job boards could easily allow.   Exclusive business development  deals with just one screening firm  carries with it the unstated premise that the job boards know better than  HR and recruiters what is good for them.   That  is the same “old school” thinking that may have gotten job boards in trouble in the first place.   Besides, HR professionals clearly understand that when a job board has an exclusive partner, that most likely there is some sort of economic sharing as well. 

For information on how to select a screening firm, a sample Request for Proposal (RFP) or how to audit your current screening firm, see information at http://www.esrcheck.com/ESRadvantage.php

The sample RFP is at: http://www.esrcheck.com/backgroundscreeningrfp.php and the article on how to select a screening firm is at: http://www.esrcheck.com/SelectingBackgroundScreeningFirm.php