Current Events Causing an Increase in Background Searches
Background searches and checks are becoming more prevalent in the workplace in part because of high profile, newsworthy events. One such event was the discovery that Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson had lied on his resume. In early May 2012, Dan Loeb, a Yahoo! shareholder, vetted Scott Thompson by checking on Thompson’s claims on his resume. Loeb found that Thompson, who claimed to hold a double degree in Accounting and Computer Science from Stonehill College, did not in fact hold the computer science degree. The school did not even offer a degree in Computer Science until four years after Thompson had graduated from the institution.
According to HR Logistics, between 15% and 40% of all applicants lie on their resumes, though no solid statistics are available for this activity. After all, why would those who lie on their resume admit that they had done so in a survey? Resume embellishment is one of the main reasons companies perform background checks on potential employees. Resume embellishment is indeed fraud. However, a resume is not considered a legal document. A job application, on the other hand, is considered a legal document, and one who has lied on their resume must resort to lying on the job application.
Resume embellishment is committed in various ways. Some of these ways include:
- Previous Job Responsibilities.
Many applicants will stretch the truth when stating their responsibilities and job titles on previous positions. Generally, applicants who embellish their resumes will often overstate the responsibilities they performed on the job. Some will even re-invent their former job titles.
- Previous Job Dates.
Applicants who embellish their resumes will often lie about the dates they worked on their previous jobs to cover any time gaps in their employment histories.
Applicants will often lie about their education. This lie is particularly prevalent with those who are just a few credits short of a degree.
- Previous Employers.
Applicants have been known to invent previous employers. When vetted, it is discovered that the company does not exist, has never existed, or the applicant was never an employee of the firm.
- Reasons for Departure from Previous Employers.
Applicants may also re-invent the reasons they departed ways with previous employers, particularly if they were fired. Many applicants who embellish will indicate that they departed due to cutbacks or layoffs when, in fact, they were asked to leave for poor performance.
Employment Background Checks to Protect Employers
Employer background checks are on the rise due to employers’ needs to protect themselves against hiring the “wrong people.” Not only do companies lose money when an undesirable candidate is hired due to the expense involved in training the employee, but companies may even be held liable for hiring the “wrong people.”
Employment background checks are necessary for many reasons in today’s business climate. Employers must protect the company against negligent hiring lawsuits that may arise from hiring the wrong candidate. If an employee’s actions cause harm to another person or company, the employer may be held responsible for the harm done by the individual and may be sued.
State and Federal Laws
Background checks when hiring for certain professions are mandated by state and federal laws. For example, individuals who apply for positions working with children, the disabled or the elderly must be vetted with background checks. Jobs where there is a potential for abuse require that applicants receive background screening.
Positions with state and federal governments also require that applicants receive background checks. If the job requires that the applicant works with sensitive information, the background screening process may be quite extensive.
Many companies are coming to terms with the fact that as many as 40% of applicants may embellish the information on their resumes. To avoid costly training and potential lawsuits, more and more companies are instituting background screening for all potential employees.
Background searches for potential applicants are becoming a necessity for the protection of employers in today’s workplace. As employers are readily able to screen out fraudulent qualifications and those with criminal records using background checks, more employers are opting to budget for screening all job candidates. Many employers vet candidates even before the initial interview.