The Canberra Times

Four benefits of using employment background screenings in the workplace

Photo by Shutterstock.
Photo by Shutterstock.

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Here's a scenario every business owner dreads.

You conduct a series of interviews with various applicants to fill a vacancy in your staff. Eventually you narrow the list down to a few candidates.

Each has the educational qualifications and work experience to add real value to your business. It's a tough choice, but you decide to hire the one whose interview struck you as the most impressive.

Unbeknownst to you, your new hire is a hoaxer.

This talented Mr. Ripley has a CV laden with half-truths and outright falsehoods. He lied about attending graduate school. He never worked for this or that company listed on his resume.

He didn't resign from his last job; he was terminated. Maybe he hasn't even got that bachelor's degree in business management. Oh, and he's got a criminal record to boot.

Even if you're lucky enough to discover all this prior to onboarding (which is pretty unlikely), you've nonetheless wasted precious time and resources on this individual.

You're now obliged to begin the hiring process over again. What a headache.

This sort of thing happens more often than you'd think (though the liars aren't always exposed).

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, over two-thirds of applicants lie on their resumes to make themselves appear more qualified than they really are.

That's a lot of lying.

For a business owner, reading through a stack of resumes can feel as though you're stepping across a minefield. As if you don't already have too much to worry about!

But you can't change human nature. People will be people. All you can do is accept this unfortunate reality and take measures to counteract it.

First and foremost: employment screening. When it comes to hiring, this is the most reliable and effective tool you have at your disposal.

You may be taken in by a skillful liar, but a background check will expose that person every time.

Below are four major advantages of using employment background screening.

Verification of claims

People who lie on job applications and resumes are usually motivated by a desire to seem more qualified for a position than they actually are.

The falsehoods here can range from mild, such as falsely claiming to have experience with a certain program to extreme, including claiming a university degree that they do not possess.

Either way, a lie is a lie; someone who is willing to you deceive you now is probably not going to have any qualms about it in the future. It reveals a flaw in character and a lack of integrity.

A good background check will show you detailed information about a given candidate's education and work history (and visa status).

All you have to do is look to see whether this information tallies with the information provided on the person's resume.

If it doesn't, his or her application goes into the dustbin.

Stronger workforce

This benefit follows naturally from the previous one. The quality, strength, and honesty of your workforce can only improve when you've filtered out the fraudsters.

It's not a stretch to say that people who deliberately misrepresent themselves during the application process might cause issues in the workplace.

Your employees will appreciate the fact that their colleagues have all been thoroughly vetted, just as they themselves were.

Knowing that everyone in the office earned their position through hard work and personal integrity goes a long way in promoting staff solidarity, which is essential to the long-term success of any business.

Workplace safety

Needless to say, applicants with past criminal convictions aren't going to volunteer this information on their resumes.

It's incumbent upon you, as an employer, to learn of any potential run-ins with the law among your candidates.

Certain crimes may not necessarily be disqualifying, though it obviously depends on the nature of the job.

For example, you don't want someone who's been convicted of larceny handling money, or someone with a history of substance abuse operating dangerous machinery.

Even worse would be if you unknowingly hired someone with a violent criminal past and wound up with a serious workplace incident as a result. You yourself might then be charged with criminal negligence.

You can preclude any such nightmares by running background checks on shortlisted job applicants.

Reduced employee turnover

Finding out that you've hired a liar is maddening on multiple levels.

In addition to feeling silly, you are compelled (with very few exceptions) to sack the employee in question and recruit a qualified replacement.

This has the effect of disrupting your day-to-day business operations (maybe this employee held a critical position) and wasting your valuable time, energy, and resources.

Moreover, a high rate of employee turnover reflects poorly on you and your company. It's akin to the applicant who changes jobs every six months.

Why, you wonder, can't this individual hold down a job?

People wonder the same thing about businesses whose employees tend to stay for relatively short periods of time.

Background screenings help you to minimise employee turnover by guaranteeing that you'll never have to let someone go after belatedly discovering they're not actually qualified for the position you've hired them to fill.