At a time when more job applicants are lying on their resumes, fewer companies have the resources to check the truth of what potential employees are telling them.
“Applicants are lying more now because they know that businesses are not taking the time and don’t have the resources to check backgrounds,” says S.A. “Sam” Murray, CEO of ManagEase Inc. “People need jobs, they need more money, they may have a spouse out of work or have lost their health care coverage, and they will do or say anything to get that job.”
Smart Business spoke with Murray about how to avoid hiring fakes and phonies, and how to make sure an employee doesn’t take you for a ride.
Why are more companies failing to look into the backgrounds of potential staffers and verify their resumes?
They’re trying to save money. Sometimes they’ve cut the staff that used to do that work, and that procedure is now lost. In other instances, companies don’t bother because they used to have three people administratively and now they have one who’s overloaded, so they don’t want to ask that person to do these things, especially if it’s not something that person had been doing in the past.
Why should employers look beyond the resume?
Hiring someone just based on a resume is foolish. A resume is just a marketing tool, and basing your decision solely on that is like buying a car just because the ad looks pretty instead of researching the brand. Background checks are a must at any company. If you’re hiring someone based on the fact that they say they have a master’s degree, you must verify that. Too many employers simply rely on a candidate’s word or on a piece of paper they produce.
Check all relevant components of what a candidate represents. If you advertise that you want someone who has 10 years of experience, why wouldn’t someone make sure their resume adds up to 10 years of experience? They want to get that job.
Employers should also do consumer checks. You don’t want to hire someone who has two bankruptcies in their past for an accounting position. Or if someone has $50,000 in debt, you don’t want that person in a position that deals with cash because they’re probably struggling to pay their bills and the temptation to steal would be great.
What can you do if you hire someone and then find out that person lied to get the job?
Every employer should have every employee, regardless of position, fill out an employment application. At the end, such forms say, ‘Everything I have included here is true and correct under penalty of perjury.’ If you later find out that an employee misrepresented a college degree or length of employment with a former employer, you can very easily fire that person.
How can employers identify someone who only took the job to fleece the company?
Some people don’t have much you can point at in their background check, but they are only looking to make a quick kill at an employer. These people may intentionally set themselves up for a workers’ comp claim. They start complaining that they’re stressed, they start sending e-mails to document that, they have a doctor who helped them with a past claim, so now they know how to do that. Then they start saying they’re feeling harassed, and then they’re asking for a severance agreement because they just can’t work there anymore. And $30,000 or $40,000 ought to be enough.
I’ve seen an instance of an employee who bragged in an e-mail that she had a doctor who would justify her claim and noted that that’s how she got the nice car she was driving from a payment from her previous employer. To weed those people out, monitor e-mails. You are paying for the computers, software server and Internet access and have the right to monitor employee e-mail communication. That’s something you should be doing randomly on a regular basis. If you don’t, you could miss something right under your nose.
What advice would you give employers who say they don’t have the time or money to dig into a candidate’s background?
The cost of a background check is $100. It’s foolish not to spend that small amount of money to get some basic information. If you don’t, you may be kicking yourself later. If you just would have spent that $100, you would have found out about the person who has two DUIs and a felony conviction, and that there was no confirmation of the employers they said they worked for.
What can you do during an interview to help weed out the phonies?
In California, you’re not allowed to give personality tests, which could reveal criminal intent, and you’re not allowed to give lie detector tests except to those who are going to work in finance. However, you can use situational questions to get revealing answers. Ask candidates what they would do in certain situations. Those questions reveal moral character and are very helpful in discerning the values that potential employee has.
When can an outside firm help with the hiring process?
If a company has had a bad experience with someone they’ve hired, if they don’t do something differently, they’re going to continue to have bad hires. If you haven’t had success in the past, it may be time to get outside help.
S.A. “Sam” Murray is CEO of ManagEase Inc. Reach her at (714) 378-0880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.