Employee Background Verification – The Badge of Trust

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There is a great demand for the right people across all lines of employment. The economy is rebounding but this time around many companies are cautious and weary of hiring candidates that lack the right aptitude and the background to get the job done. The hire and fire in mass concept has given way to a more stable and long term relationship building employee-employer dynamics. The crux for this relation being trust.

In today’s job market an employee is hired based on his qualification, his likability factor and the employer’s gut instincts. Most of the factors considered in hiring are subjective and are open to errors. The next logical step in providing a seamless hiring process and qualifying candidates before the interviews would be a standardized employee verification system.

As more and more companies rely on employee background checks to help select and finalize a candidate, the more the need to create a standard for background checks. At present the depth of checks done on a candidate’s past varies from company to company. This leads to a partial and at times flawed approach to employee background verification. As demand for the employee verification services increases only the best of these service providers will prevail.

Standardization of the employee verification services may even lead to these checks being a pre-requisite for all candidates applying for a job. The candidates in essence would need to approach the background verification companies and get their resumes, educational qualifications verified before applying to a job. This theory may sound radical but it may be a reality in the plausible future. A similar example can be drawn from the account verification service that social media platform like Facebook and Twitter provide to ascertain whether a given profile is that of the said celebrity or not.

There needs to be a continuous endeavor on behalf of the background verification companies to develop a standard that provides for the most prolific background checks. As these simple background checks of today can become the Badge of Trust for tomorrow.

Background Verifications and Political Mudslinging

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The common man is finally stretching his arms and legs. There is a whiff of revolution in the air and the fight against corruption the primary agenda. Any person worth his mettle is at the forefront of leading a protest against corruption and trying to wriggle in amendments that would result in a more transparent functioning of the political machinery. This process of the modern civil disobedience was set into motion by Anna Hazare and was sensationalized by Baba Ramdev.

These protests against corruption did stir the hornet’s nest and has resulted in the Government trying to save face either by cajoling the protestors to give up their stand, by using force (the infamous midnight lathi charge) or by mudslinging against those spearheading the protest. There appears to be a predefined protocol for initiating the mudslinging process. It all starts with the cajoling process (read six Congressmen pick Baba Ramdev from airport), failure to persuade leads to the disruption process and finally the mudslinging allegation process with character assassination being the primary motive.

What really puzzles me most is why does a person’s financial and/or background verification come into play only when the person is perceived as a threat to the Government? Does it imply that the Government would turn a blind eye towards a person’s disproportionate income if he is an asset to them?

History says yes. This kind of negligent attitude can be often found in the workplace too. How many times have we hired a person without a background check only to doubt his credentials when he underperforms?

The point I am trying to make is that background verifications should be made an integral part of the hiring process. Be it hiring a leader to lead the country or an employee to work in an organization. Detailed background verification can provide the required information to make a informed decision. It also develops a sense of trust towards the leader that you follow or the employee that you hire.

Background Verification – Necessary Requirement for a Safer Household

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Increased work pressure and the need to meet multiple deadlines have left us spending more and more time at work. This increased work load has lead to most of us spending minimal time at home and/or caring for our loved ones. As we are busy earning we have left the caretaking of our assets and our kids to others.

Finding the right help with whom we can entrust the responsibilities of our homes and/or kids is a delicate process. There are ample of companies that provide this kind of manpower. However the main criteria for most of these manpower companies is to maintain good profit margin, hence the concentration is more on hiring cheap help than hiring the right help. Credential verification for almost all domestic help positions is non-existential.

Off late there have been many instances where the domestic help betrayed trust and either kidnapped the child they were looking after or made away with the jewelry and cash that was stored in the house. A lot of these incidents could have been deterred had there been a conscious effort to look into the credential of the person that was hired for the job. There are many companies that can help you make the required domestic help verifications.

The few tips that can help you make your own domestic help verification are

  • If your town police offer domestic help verification service, submit the application form at your local police station. This is by far the best thing you can do.
  • Verify the current and permanent address and ID proofs of your domestic help and retain a photocopy for your records.
  • Visit the current address and confirm the residence. Ask the local neighbors too.
  • Ask for previous employer references even if the domestic help is coming through word of mouth referral or through a domestic help agency. Call the previous employers and ask questions to confirm and learn more.
  • Retain a current photograph of the domestic help.

The above tasks though basic help provide the needful satisfaction that the right person is being hired. The more in-depth and detailed the enquiries the better the insight about the persons background.

A detailed background check provides a complete picture about a person’s past track record. Any discrepancies or negative feedback that crops up can be a red flag against hiring that person. The basic ideology behind a background check is that a person is a creature of habit and develops his characteristics over successive repetition. This human tendency can be piggybacked to find any negative traits that a person may have exhibited in the past.

The information provided via the domestic help verification process does not guarantee that the domestic help hired will not commit a crime. However it will provide you with the satisfaction that you have done the best to keep your assets and family safe and sound.

Paid Subscriptions for People Search

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Since going live with JantaKhoj website, our People Search service has been available for free. It was kept in beta version till the website upgrade which we did last month. The intent was to see the market adoption and acceptance. The entire process of building the People Search database and continuously maintaining and updating it, requires fair bit of continued efforts and associated costs. With a view to offset some of these costs and to continue making more investments in improving the People Search and associated customer service, we are moving over to paid subscription model for People Search.

Three variants of subscriptions are being offered – Day (24 hour) Pass, Monthly Pass and Yearly Pass, costing Rs 49, Rs 299 and Rs 999 respectively. Each of these variants allows unlimited searches during the period of subscription. Also, if newer data sources or updated records are added during the subscription, they are automatically included in the subscription package. As always, support will be available via email, phone or live chat.

If you are an individual who requires looking up a person or a few persons, the Daily Pass will be the best option. If you are a business and want to try out the service, the Monthly Pass will be suitable. Once your business sees value in the service after trying out the service for a month, you should consider going in for the Yearly Pass as it gives the best value and maximum discount.

As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Five Reasons for using Social Media as a Background Verification tool

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The internet has become a integral part of our daily lives. It has become an extension of our personalities and can provide an insight into an individual’s psyche. Below are the top five reasons for using the social media as a quick background verification tool.

1. Social media sites such as LinkedIn provide an easy and quick way to verify a candidate’s professional background. They also allow HR manager to check on the references provided by the candidate’s co-workers. The credentials cited on LinkedIn would generally not be wildly off from the reality as the risk of openly claiming false credentials is very high. A LinkedIn profile consists of a person’s current and previous co-workers and hence any exaggeration by the candidate of his job responsibilities could lead to an immediate correction in form of posts on the candidates profile by his co-workers. Additionally, if a candidate has claimed a false employment, the administrator of the company page (if it exists on LinkedIn) can always flag the employment as incorrect.

2. Facebook provides the HR manager a peek into the candidate’s personal profile. It allows the HR manager to understand the candidate’s lifestyle and its compatibility with the job profile at hand. Facebook allows HR mangers to understand the company a candidate keeps, his preferences in terms of the groups he has joined, among others.

Facebook is one social media where people tend to express themselves without any inhibitions. A clear analysis of a person’s Facebook profile can allow for a clear assessment of his lifestyle.

3. The blogosphere can be searched to find articles, comments posted by the candidate being evaluated. This search helps the HR managers understand the candidate’s proficiency in his field of expertise by going through the articles the candidate may have posted on various blogs. It also allows for understanding the candidate’s thought process by going through the comments or feedbacks the candidate has posted on other blogs or forums.

4. The micro blogosphere such as Twitter can be used to understand the candidate’s other interests. This can be done by going through the candidate’s tweets posts and understanding the links or articles that he promotes via his Twitter account.

5. A Google Alert can be set for the candidate under scrutiny. This will allow any update about the candidate to flow into the HR managers email account and provide access to all the online updates that the candidates makes.

Social media can help the HR managers make the initial set of preliminary checks on the candidate. However the information gleaned from these networks is to be interpreted properly so that it is not taken out of context. The social media check can act as gateway for the initial set of interviews. However it is advised that a through offline background check is carried out before finalizing on an employee.

The internet has become a integral part of our daily lives. It has become an extension of our personalities and can provide an insight into an individual’s psyche. Below are the top five reasons for using the social media as a quick background verification tool.

1. Social media sites such as LinkedIn provide an easy and quick way to verify a candidate’s professional background. They also allow HR manager to check on the references provided by the candidate’s co-workers. The credentials cited on LinkedIn would generally not be wildly off from the reality as the risk of openly claiming false credentials is very high. A LinkedIn profile consists of a person’s current and previous co-workers and hence any exaggeration by the candidate of his job responsibilities could lead to an immediate correction in form of posts on the candidates profile by his co-workers. Additionally, if a candidate has claimed a false employment, the administrator of the company page (if it exists on LinkedIn) can always flag the employment as incorrect.

2. Facebook provides the HR manager a peek into the candidate’s personal profile. It allows the HR manager to understand the candidate’s lifestyle and its compatibility with the job profile at hand. Facebook allows HR mangers to understand the company a candidate keeps, his preferences in terms of the groups he has joined, among others.

Facebook is one social media where people tend to express themselves without any inhibitions. A clear analysis of a person’s Facebook profile can allow for a clear assessment of his lifestyle.

3. The blogosphere can be searched to find articles, comments posted by the candidate being evaluated. This search helps the HR managers understand the candidate’s proficiency in his field of expertise by going through the articles the candidate may have posted on various blogs. It also allows for understanding the candidate’s thought process by going through the comments or feedbacks the candidate has posted on other blogs or forums.

4. The micro blogosphere such as Twitter can be used to understand the candidate’s other interests. This can be done by going through the candidate’s tweets posts and understanding the links or articles that he promotes via his Twitter account.

5. A Google Alert can be set for the candidate under scrutiny. This will allow any update about the candidate to flow into the HR managers email account and provide access to all the online updates that the candidates makes.

Social media can help the HR managers make the initial set of preliminary checks on the candidate. However the information gleaned from these networks is to be interpreted properly so that it is not taken out of context. The social media check can act as gateway for the initial set of interviews. However it is advised that a through offline background check is carried out before finalizing on an employee.

Background Check Enforcement Versus The Need to Hire – An HR Manager’s Dilemma

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Background checks have become an essential part of the hiring process. Background checks make it easier for the HR managers to select and hire the right candidate. However in today’s market there is an abundance of jobs and finding the right candidate within the stipulated salary package has become an arduous task. This is especially true in the case of small to medium sized companies. The consistent pressure on HR managers to increase head count combined with the dearth of talent may lead to overlooking of the facts presented in the candidates’ background check report.

The question then arises on the importance of the employee background verification report and the value of the information provided therein. It becomes important to understand the anatomy of a background report before we dwell on its importance. The employee verification report primarily provides the following information on a candidate

  1. Professional Qualification Validation
  2. Education Qualification Validation
  3. Reference Checks
  4. Criminal Record Check
  5. Address Verification

The different elements of a background report provide validation of the qualifications and information as submitted by the candidate thereby acting as a character analyzer of sorts. Professional and educational verification allows the HR manager to ensure that the candidate has the required experience and qualification to properly execute the job functions that he is being hired for.

Reference checks can help provide insight into the candidate’s performance as a team player, attitude and his work ethics. A criminal record check allows the HR manager to develop a safe and secure work atmosphere, by outright rejection of the candidate with a criminal record. Then again I am not saying that candidates with criminal records should not be given a fair chance. The decision on hiring a candidate with criminal record depends on multiple factors such as severity of the crime, overall qualifications, among other.

Address verification is an important check specially for companies that are into the software development business and where employees have access to sensitive information. It allows the company to track down absconding employee in the rare case of software or information theft.

Employee background verifications provide the HR managers with the required information to make a intelligent decision whether the decision is based on pure merit or on the HR managers intuition.

Depending on the company and the position for which a candidate is being hired, the HR manager can choose to show leniency on some discrepancies between the information provided by the candidate and that in his/her background check report.

However it is important that the candidate be made aware of the discrepancy being overlooked. This would prevent the candidate from developing a sense of arrogance in being able to cheat the system.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact that background checks are crucial for having access to unbiased and validated information of a candidate. This information acts as a strong supplement in making the HR manager’s hiring decisions easier. Eventually the magic of hiring, nurturing and retaining a high performance staff has to be created by the HR manager.

Background checks – what to do when a great candidate has a negative employer reference

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Employee attrition rates are at an all time high. Employment opportunities abound and an employee’s appetite for professional and financial growth has become insatiable. Many companies have mushroomed over the past decade. Most of these companies promise candidates the sky, during the hiring process but fall flat on delivering them. These unfulfilled promises lead to employee discontent, which results in the employee looking for other job options and eventually leaving the company.

This sudden loss of an employee may not have a big impact on the workings of a multinational company however it may disrupt the flow of business for a small company. Instead of understanding the reason for the high attrition rate within the company, the company may bear a grudge against the candidate and may dish out references that adversely affect the employee’s prospects of getting hired elsewhere.

The point I am trying to make is that there are always two sides of a story – in this case one side being the company and the other the employee. A professional employee background verification company can help gather all facts about the employee. This includes educational and professional verification, reference checks, calls to the company of previous employment to get more feedback on the candidate, etc. However there tends to be a lack of information about the culture, and inner workings of the company.

The responsibility to distinguish the facts from fiction falls squarely on the shoulders of the HR managers. An HR manager can have all the information about a new hire but in the end information is only as good as a person’s ability to decrypt it.

A point in case could be a new hires resume that shows the candidate to be a good fit for the company. The HR manager, with the candidate’s approval, runs a background check on this candidate. The results of the background check look promising and validate the educational and professional qualifications outlined by the candidate in his resume. However there ends up being one negative feedback provided by a manager at the candidate’s’ previous employer. Now the question to consider is whether the single negative feedback should be taken at face value and the candidate be rejected or should the discrepancy be studied further?

The easy and quick way out would be to take the negative feedback at face value and reject the candidate. But isn’t employee satisfaction about spending time to understand the employee? Is it too early to start building relationship from the pre-employment phase? The candidate in question should be allowed to provide an explanation for the negative feedback that he received. This explanation can provide the hiring HR manager an insight into the work culture of  candidate’s previous company. The work culture information provided by the candidate can be easily verified by a quick online search about the company.

If the HR manager is convinced about the candidates explanation and all other qualifications are met then the candidate should hired. The hired candidate will be appreciative of the extra effort the HR manager put in to understand his side of the story and this in turn will make him a more dedicated employee.

Kalmadi Arrested – Is it a case of too little too late?

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Suresh Kalmadi has finally been arrested. It feels like eternity since the Common Wealth Games (CWG) scam came to light and Kalmadi was named the prime accused. But is it a case of too little too late? Could this debacle have been averted and if yes, how?

To answer these questions we will have to do some sleuthing into Kalmadi’s background and see if we can find any tell tale signs of corruption, incompetence or any other traits that could help us foretell his current actions.

Kalmadi has had a very illustrious career. The highlights of his career have been listed below

Career with IAF 1965 – 1971: Served in the Indian Air Forces and also participated in the Indo-Pak war.
Political Career 1978 – 1980: President, Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress

1982 – 1995: Member of Parliament

16 Sept 1995 – to 15 June 1996: Minister of State for Railways

1996 – 1997: Member of Parliament 11th Lok Sabha

1998 – 2004: Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

1998 – 2008: Member, Union Public Undertakings Committee

From 2004 till today: Member of Parliament

Work profile in sports field 1996 to 2004: President, Indian Olympic Association (IOA)

2004 to 2008: Reelected unopposed

2008 to 2012: Reelected unopposed

2001 till date: President, Asian Athletics Association (AAA)

1989 – 2006: President, Athletics Federation of India (AFI)

2001 till date: Council Member, International Association of Athletic Federations

2003: Chairman – Afro – Asian Games, Hyderabad

*Kalmadi’s detailed career profile: http://bit.ly/f2GPpb

It’s pretty hard for me to believe that Kalmadi got up one morning and decided to scam the nation to the tunes of thousand of crore. The Common Wealth Games execution was abundant with incompetence and corruption and I am sure Kalmadi’s career did show these traits.

[i]The first signs of lack of execution were shown by Kalmadi during his tenure as the Minister of State Railways, in relation to the Karjat-Panvel rail link. The project was launched on January 29, 1996, with an initial provision of Rs 12 crore as against the total estimated cost of Rs 89 crore. However, not even 10 per cent of the budget allocation was actually spent on the work.

[ii]In August 2007 the Suresh Kalmadi lead Olympic Association announced a letter of intent from Formula One Management to promote and back the Indian Grand Prix. In October, 2007, the Formula One Administration paid Rs 1600 crore to JPSK Sports Private Limited to build an F1 track in Noida. Summer Kalmadi, son of Suresh Kalmadi has a 13% stake in JPSK.

[iii]In 2009, a Delhi court granted bail to Suresh Kalmadi’s aide Sanjay Mahendroo in the case of alleged financial bungling in holding Queen’s Baton Relay in London in 2009.

[iv]In August 2010, documents accessed by CNN-IBN raise questions over the legitimacy of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee (CWG OC) headed by Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi. They indicate that the original bid documents submitted by the OC to 72 countries of the Commonwealth in 2003 were tampered with.

As can be seen Kalmadi’s career was not as illustrious after all. It has been replete with examples of lack of competence and acts of corruption. Kalmadi had used his seat to influence contracts in favor of close and dear ones. Having been able to get away with it built a sense of arrogance and lead to the CWG scam that cost the Indian exchequer millions of dollars.

The question to consider is whether we should hold only Kalmadi responsible for the CWG scam. What about the government that let Kalmadi’s actions go unchecked? Could the CWG scam have been avoided if the government had seen the tell tale sign in Kalmadi’s professional career?

If the answer to the above questions is ‘Yes’ then wouldn’t the same set of checks into an employee’s professional life help avoid corporate scams? Think about it. In a smaller microcosm of the corporate world unbiased pre and post employment checks could help provide the required information that can help separate a good employee from a bad one. The lack of an employee background check and the cost of the resulting repercussions is anyone’s guess.


[i] http://www.indianexpress.com/ie/daily/19980714/19550914.html

[ii] http://www.f1toto.com/f1circuits.php?id=73

[iii] http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/cwg-scam-court-grants-bail-to-kalmadi-aide-mahendroo-79511

[iv] http://ibnlive.in.com/news/cwg-bid-tampered-to-let-kalmadi-be-chairman/129121-3.html

Top 5 Reasons why Post-Employment verification is necessary

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Most of the companies today understand the importance of pre-employment verification. The pre-employment verification is a one-time check and does not provide insight into a candidates’ background beyond the point at which the pre-employment verification was conducted. It is essential for a company to be vigilant and introduce an ongoing post-employment check policy. The top five benefits of an ongoing post employment check can be outlined as below

  1. A one-time pre-employment check may result in important information about the candidate being overlooked. This may happen due to human error or unavailability of proper information at the time of verification. An ongoing post-employment verification process helps find any missing pieces of information and provides a complete picture of the candidates past.
  2. When candidates’ doctor their resume, at times they give fake references which offer recommendations as per the candidates’ requirements. An ad-hoc reference check may provide discrepancies in the recommendations initially provided.
  3. Post-employment checks provide a continuous feedback on any criminal records that are registered on the candidates name. This information allows the HR manager to either counsel the employee or take the necessary actions depending on the severity of the crime.
  4. In today’s job seeker oriented market a lot of employees are on a continuous  lookout for new opportunities. These employees make a sudden transition to a new job leaving the HR managers in a fix. An ongoing post employment check helps keep an eye on the candidates’ online activity. This can include the candidate’s activity on job boards, social sites such as LinkedIn, etc. and provide HR managers an insight into the candidates long term intentions.
  5. Many employees pursue and complete new educational degrees and qualification to help them climb the corporate ladder faster. An ongoing post employment background check allows verification of the submitted education qualifications and ensure that only the deserving candidates are promoted.

Eventually a post employment check can only provide information about a candidate. The ability to correctly discern information is the prerogative of the HR manager. If there is a constant upwards job attrition trend then the HR manager needs to identify process failures within the company and institute corrective procedures.

It’s pretty hard to identify whether the low employee productivity, enthusiasm are a factor of employees inability to perform or due to the negative work environment. These questions, though tough, need to be answered to reduce employee attrition rate and provide deserving candidates an opportunity to grow.

Anna Hazare and the Call for Transparency

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In the last few days there has been one movement that has captured the imagination of the common man in India and forced him to get up and make an impact in the fight against corruption. In a nation of forgetful people it has finally made us Indians say ‘Ab bahut ho gaya.’ Anna Hazare has succeeded in doing what a thousand patriotic movies and countless political parties could not do – make us take responsibility for our nation’s pitiable situation.

As I intensely watched the minute-by-minute broadcast I questioned myself about Annaji’s intentions. Was his fight limited only to getting the Lokpal bill passed in a form that could help punish the guilty? Maybe I am reading too much between the lines but I think that the real fight was for transparency and the right to information. After all, all scams happen in the darkness of misinformation.

So now the question arises how do we build transparency? The obvious answer would be to build a system of checks and balances. But aren’t checks and balances only as good as the people that manage them? Hmm… the mystery deepens. Maybe a set of people with strong integrity and no related biases can be the keepers of this system of checks and balances. The more detached an entity is from the system, the more its ability to make unbiased decisions.

However this whole idea of transparency cannot be limited to the political and bureaucratic arena. This idea needs to percolate deeper into our society and to become part of our professional and personal lives. In today’s fast paced life people want to achieve everything in a short period of time, by hook or by crook. The thought that a person can get away with anything needs to be changed and a fear of the system needs to be inculcated.

The reason people resort to cheating or lying is because they see others do the same and get away with it. The easiest way to instill a principle is to make it a law.  In the sphere of work, transparency starts at the hiring process. It can be achieved by:

  • Carrying out in-depth background checks on new hires. A clean record talks volumes about the candidate’s attitude and beliefs.
  • Hiring a third party employee verification service provider to conduct background checks. This will allow for unbiased report and permit better judgment making.
  • Implementing a system of checks and balance by decentralizing the hiring process. The final say in hiring a person should not be the domain of a single employee.
  • Maintaining an employee profile section within the company’s website and outlining the past professional and educational qualifications of all the employees. This will provide an additional layer of transparency.

We are constantly influenced by the world around us. If every company implements an in-depth background check system and is able to weed out undeserving candidates from the hiring process then it will develop a sense of fear, for the system, in the hearts and mind of the job applicants.

Job applicants will have to be righteous while applying for jobs not because they want to be but because they have to be. As a person becomes honest in his professional life, the same quality of transparency and integrity are passed onto his personal life. Hence allowing us to break the vicious circle of deceit and corruption, once and for all.