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6 Red Flags to Lookout for When Conducting Background Checks


For most organizations, background checks are an essential part of the recruitment process. They protect your company, your employees, and your clients by confirming that potential hires are who they say they are, and that they actually have the qualifications and experience they say they do. A check looks at education and employment history, civil records, references and, of course, criminal history, all of which is essential for ensuring the safety of everyone associated with your business.

Failure to adequately check the background of an employee could result in lost business, not to mention time and money wasted re-hiring for the same position, negligence lawsuits, and even death and injury. And issues come up more often than you might think. According CareerBuilder, more than 75 percent of HR managers have reported catching a lie on a candidate’s resume, so the red flags background checks throw up can be extremely useful.

Here are some of the things you should be on the look out for:

1. Refusing a background check

By law, employers have to receive written permission from a candidate before doing a background check and prospective employees are well within their rights to refuse. However, this suggests they have something to hide. If they won’t allow you to make the most basic of checks, chances are that you can’t trust they are telling you the truth.

2. Employment gaps

It’s been a tough job market in recent years, and so it may be that your candidate’s were out of work for a period of time through no fault of their own. They could also have been ill, been caring for someone, or raising children. However, if there are recurring, unexplained gaps in employment, it could be cause for concern. Perhaps the person finds it hard to hold down a job, is unreliable, hard to work with, or underqualified. The person may have also omitted jobs that didn’t end well, rather than list them on his resume, which is less than honest.

3. Falsified qualifications

Falsely claiming qualifications they don’t have is one of the most common inaccuracies recruiters find on candidate’s’ resumes and therefore one of the most important to check. While having the right credentials for a role might not be the most important factor when making a new hire, honesty from a potential employee is. Lying about having a degree is a fireable offence and has even left some of business’s high fliers caught with their pants down. Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s chief spokesman David Tovar resigned after it was revealed he did not in fact have the Bachelor of Arts degree he claimed.

4. Inaccuracies about previous jobs

Has a candidate stretched the truth a little or completely fabricated parts of her work history? It’s a natural temptation to embellish the truth a little when it comes to work achievements, responsibilities, and experience, but if a candidate has deliberately falsified work history information, chances are she isn’t as qualified for the job as she should be and hiring her could be an expensive mistake.

5. Poor credit history

Poor credit history might not be an issue for some organizations, but if your company is in the financial services industry or the person’s role is with handling money, then it matters a great deal. A poor financial history could indicate that the candidate is not suitable to be in a position of fiscal responsibility and could put your organization and clients at risk.

6. Criminal history

If a background check reveals criminal history (particularly of a serious nature and not revealed by the employee), red flags should definitely go up. If a potential employee omits this information, is hired without a criminal background check and later becomes involved in criminal activity on the job, your company is liable. While some convictions might not be cause for concern, violent crime and fraud are. Many businesses go bankrupt through employee theft and, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, nine percent of all workplace deaths were homicides in 2013. Remember, safeguarding your employees should be a top priority when hiring a new member of staff.

Background checks and the red flags they reveal can be incredibly useful in weeding out unsuitable, dangerous, or problematic candidate’s before you waste time on them in the interview stage or make a costly hiring mistake. What things have you found candidate’s have lied about on their resume?

JazzHR partners with several background check providers to ensure you’re hiring the right employees, every time. To learn more, call us today.


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