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The Complete Payroll Blog

Red flags on employee background check reports

Posted by Complete Payroll | May 11, 2018 2:00:00 PM

 Red flags on employee background check reports - Complete Payroll

So you have a solid candidate for a job opening you’re hoping to fill. They seem qualified, they did well in their interviews, and you’ve even run a pre-employment background check. But now that you have the background check results in hand, do you know what it is that you’re looking for?

Here are some red flags that might cause you to press pause on an otherwise promising candidacy.

Red Flag #1: Major discrepancies between the check and self-reported employment history.

While it’s a good practice to track the start and end dates for every job you’ve worked, most folks aren’t quite that meticulous. Minor mismatches, like the difference between starting in August vs. September, aren’t a very big deal. Some larger discrepancies also have good reasons behind them.

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For example, if the candidate says they worked for Company A for three years, but it turns out they worked for Temp Agency X for the first year and then Company A for two, it’s quite easy to check on that placement and discover that they worked at Company A for the full three years, even though they weren’t working for them.

But if there’s no quickly apparent reason for a major discrepancy, this is a red flag, and one that you should definitely clarify with the job applicant. Lies about educational credentials are especially rampant, and yet are incredibly easy to check up on. The difference between an employee who lies and one who makes occasional mistakes is huge, so don’t let this one go without investigating further.

Red Flag #2: Lots of related jobs that weren’t listed on the resume.

A resume, of course, isn’t required to be exhaustive. It’s a marketing document, used by job applicants to sell themselves to potential employers. It makes sense, viewed this way, to leave off positions that don’t contribute to their current career path. If you’re hiring teachers, you might expect them to leave off their job working as a bartender, for example, because it’s taking up space on their resume that could be better put to use highlighting their teaching skills.

If it turns out that this teacher worked at several schools in the last ten years that were left off their resume, though, this is a red flag. It would be in your best interest to call these schools and confirm your candidate’s employment there, getting as much information as possible about the kind of employee they were and the circumstances surrounding their leaving the job.

Red Flag #3: Hopping from job to job to job.

Again, there are sometimes excellent reasons for being a job-hopper. Military spouses will often find themselves uprooted and plopped down in a new town or even country on a regular basis. Temp work is not a crime, and a six month contract coming to its natural end doesn’t indicate any kind of failing on behalf of the employee. Periods of work interspersed with full-time caregiving are not uncommon. 

But if your applicant seems to have a consistent history of staying at a job for just a few months before moving onto the next, you’ll want to dig deeply into the circumstances that led to such a move. Were they fired? Bored? Is this the type of person who is eternally unhappy with whoever their boss happens to be? Unless the role you’re hiring this person for is a temporary or seasonal one, this is a significant red flag.

Red Flag #4: Crimes related to the job in question.

More than 19 million Americans have a felony conviction, and a third of Americans have some sort of criminal record. Most people with some sort of criminal history are able to work successfully and responsibly. It is worth considering fitness for the position, however, if the crime committed was closely related to the role for which you’re hiring.

If you are hiring a photographer that would often need to work with children and youth, a history of child abuse would be a major red flag. Similarly, you do not want an accountant who has embezzled money from an employer before, or a high-end jewelry salesperson with a repeated history of petty theft.

Use your good common sense, and use an expert.

When looking at potential employees, it’s always better to have an experienced set of eyes on your side. Complete Payroll’s background check toolkit has the tools you need to enable you to take your background checks from start to finish. With our help, you’ll have the right person hired in no time. Contact us to get started.

Get help with Employee Background Checks.

Complete Payroll offers employee background checks as a service to its clients. Click here to set up a background check or simply learn more about the service.

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Also, check out our comprehensive resource page on employee background checks that consolidates all the information, blog posts and other resources about running background checks on employees and potential hires in one place.

Topics: Labor law, Employees, Human resources

Written by Complete Payroll

We do payroll, HR, timekeeping and more for employers all over the country from a small, rural town in Upstate New York. And we're constantly publishing articles and other resources to help business owners, HR managers or anyone that helps manage a workforce. Welcome to Payroll Country!

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