Monday, December 30, 2013

A Year in Review: Background Checks & the Hiring Process

2013 has been a year of many changes in the Background Check industry.  Issues like “Ban the Box”, “full disclosure” requirements, and recent court rulings looking to curb the reach of the EEOC have filled the news.

These changes have been driven by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).  They have made no qualms about making it their mission to end what they perceive to be inequities in using background checks when hiring.

The EEOC has focused their efforts on ending the “disparate impact” that they claim background check policies have on minorities.

The first step in reaching that goal has been “Ban the Box”.  It has gained widespread popularity, with many states already adopting legislation in its favor.  The gist of it is the call to remove the question of whether an individual has a past criminal record from the initial application.  It is only after a conditional offer of employment has been made that an investigation into possible past criminal activity can then be made.

The hiring company is also required to conduct the criminal background check under “full disclosure”.  All conditional employees must be made aware that an investigation is being made and what their rights are if a record is found that may impact their eventual employment.

The EEOC is adamant that companies rethink their process and be very specific about the kind of criminal activity that would prohibit hiring the individual.  Merely having a criminal record is not enough.  The employer needs to take into consideration the crime, how long ago the crime occurred, and whether the crime would keep the individual from safely performing the duties required in the specific job for which they applied.

Many believe that this puts companies in a difficult position.  The Attorney Generals from several states have criticized the EEOC saying that their policies put companies that use background checks during their hiring process in a Catch 22.  On the one hand they fear being sued by the EEOC, on the other they risk hiring employees that are unsafe to either their company, their existing employees, or their customers.

Recently, however, there have been court decisions that put the EEOC themselves in the cross hairs.   A Maryland federal court ruled in favor of a company sued by the EEOC for their background check practices.  This company had been experiencing an issue with employee theft, violence, and drug use.

To combat this, the company established a new policy requiring criminal background and credit checks on prospective employees.  The EEOC stepped in and sued the company for the “disparate impact” of their new policy.

Despite the EEOC’s use of two expert witnesses to support their claim, the court ruled in the company’s favor.  Citing the difficulties businesses face in hiring safe employees and the lack of evidence from the EEOC really proving “disparate impact”, the court granted a summary judgment for the company.

However, the 2013 filing of high profile cases against BMW and Dollar General Stores shows that the EEOC is not backing down on the issue of background checks in the hiring process.  This issue remains important and, in turn, companies need to pay attention.

I believe the effect of the EEOC’s guidelines is lessened for companies that already have a fundamental belief in doing the “right” thing.  Companies that focus on operating in the light of day by making sure every applicant is fully aware of their hiring process and their rights to dispute any inaccuracies found during the background check are ahead of the game.

It is entirely possible to believe in “second chances” and still use background checks to protect your company.  Using verifications to hire the best candidate should be the right of every business owner ~ as long as they keep in mind what is fair.

This should be the goal of every business, and not simply because the EEOC says so!

Authored by   

I would also like to wish you, my faithful readers, all the best in 2014.  May you achieve your goals and remember to keep reaching for the stars!  Happy New Year!

For continued tips and information to help you succeed in your Small Business, take a moment subscribe to my blog and check out my website.  Thanks!

And if we are not already connected, visit me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I would love to start the new year getting to know you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

5 Things That Have Made Running my Business Easier in 2013!

With this year rapidly coming to an end, I have been thinking a lot about the “little” things that have made running my business a whole lot easier this year.  Each has, in their own way, made me more efficient, organized, and creative.

Since any given week you may find me in Pennsylvania, D.C., or traveling, the key has always been finding tools that allow me to easily run my business from anywhere.

Additionally, I have found that since increasing my social media presence, I also needed to find ways to streamline that process.  It was crucial to free up the time necessary to do both my “regular work” and not drop the ball online.

This past year fulfilling those two needs has been my quest.  Many of you already know I consider myself “technically challenged” so, no matter what, anything I considered had to be extremely easy to use and still make a big enough impact to get the results I desired.

While I am sure many of you would have your own (and probably better) list, this is what I have found to work for me:

  • My MacBook Air ~ I honestly can’t take the credit for this “find”.  It was a Christmas gift from my husband last year.  And even though I protested the cost (I had previously used much lower priced laptops), I absolutely love it!

  The biggest advantage has been its light weight and long battery life.  Both make it extremely easy for travel or working where there is not a readily available outlet (think sitting on a hotel balcony looking at the ocean!).

  • Calendar & Notes ~ Both were already loaded onto my MacBook and each have really made an impact.  With Calendar it is easy to keep track of upcoming appointments and deadlines.  I love the reminder feature that pops up the day before and day of any event I have scheduled.  I have found Notes to be a great organizational tool.  When I find an article I want to either read later or share online, I simply copy the link into notes and am able to access it when I have time.  I also use it to jot down quick blog ideas or “things to do”.  I find myself adding to Notes many times during a work day.

  • Hootsuite ~ Hootsuite is probably the single most effective tool I found this year.  Prior to using it, I was going on each social media site individually to schedule posts.  Now that has changed.  I love the ability to easily pre-schedule posts to all my sites right in Hootsuite.  It is also nice to be able to take a quick look at what is going on in each using the streams.  While there are many other features available in Hootsuite, I have yet to use them....maybe next year.  For right now, this is what works for me.

  • ~ Through the creation of my weekly online paper, “Access Profiles Weekly”, I have been able to reach more readers for my blog and for the articles I share from others.  The best part is that it takes very little additional time for me to generate each edition.  At the suggestion, and with the help, of Joe Soltis of Soltis Consulting, it was easy to set up my existing blog and tweets as the content feed for my paper.  In this way, articles are published in my paper with no additional work from me.  Perfect!  

  • Guest Writers on my Blog ~ While this is not a “tool”, sharing the blog posts of others has been wonderful.  It not only allows me to post more often to my blog, it also gives me a chance to “pay it forward” to other bloggers.  A surprising benefit has been the creative boost it has given my own writing.  I find reading the interesting thoughts of my guest bloggers jump starts many of my best ideas.

Looking ahead to 2014, I have placed Mailchimp on deck.  I have yet to learn a lot about it, but I like that it is an easy to use tool to ramp up email marketing.  I have done very little to date to use email effectively, so this is definitely something I will look into.

I am also planning on using Pinterest in some more creative ways.  While my business does not easily lend itself to such a “visual” medium, I will try and create images of my services and turn customer testimonials into pins.

As a bonus, I would also like to add that the help of my family, clients, and online friends has not gone unnoticed.

My family has always been supportive and understanding of my weird hours and oftentimes pre-occupation with work.  Without them, I would not have the freedom to pursue my goals.

I have also enjoyed considerable encouragement and loyalty from my clients.  This past year has brought new ones into the fold, and for that I am grateful.  Each customer, new and old, renews my sense of purpose.

And finally, my Online Friends.  They have acted as my cheerleaders, mentors, and sounding boards. Some have even lent me their skills.  
Most importantly, all have made it much easier, and definitely more fulfilling, to run my business.

I can’t wait to see what happens next year!

Authored by

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Let’s also connect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn!  Thanks!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Hearts for Vets ~ This Week’s “Small Business Spotlight”!

In this season defined by giving and gratefulness, many charity organizations look to make things a little brighter for those around them.

Holiday Hearts for Vets stands out among the crowd.  This organization, located in the Rockbridge county area of Virginia, is focused on giving thanks to our disabled, aging, and other deserving veterans during the Christmas holiday.

Sandy Collier started Holiday Hearts for Vets in 2011.  Helping bring holiday joy to veterans and their families is close to her heart.  Holiday Hearts for Vets is Sandy’s chance to “pay it forward”.

HHFV honors the sacrifice made to our country by veterans and their families.  So, what better way to celebrate the season than to combine the spirit of Christmas and gratitude to our veterans? Sandy even hopes to expand the program to include veterans in neighboring Augusta county.

Sandy finds local veterans and fills them in on the Holiday Hearts for Vets program.  If they agree to take part, the real work begins.  Sandy and her corp of volunteers will clean up the yard, rake ~ whatever it takes to get it ready for the fun part ~ decorating!

HHFV will then set to work making the veteran’s house festive.  Lights and other decorations donated by local businesses and individuals are used to make their home sparkle.  The veterans also receive other “goodies” such as gift baskets and gift cards.

Then, come January, the volunteers return to take it all down and clean up.  Sandy has many volunteers who participate, whether it is for yard clean up, knitting hats and scarves, baking cookies, assembling gift baskets, and even local stores and restaurants that donate gift cards.

Sandy’s hope is that by decorating their home for the holidays, each veteran will know that there are people who care about their sacrifice.  It is especially important to Sandy to return the Christmas spirit that some veterans may have lost.   

 This year, Holiday Hearts for Vets is helping three area veterans.  All three served in the US Army.  However, each year it is different.  Since its beginning, Holiday Hearts for Vets has helped a total of 7 Veterans.  Their goal is to always strive to do better and improve upon the preceding year.

A memorable and  touching moment happened recently when Sandy explained the HHFV program to one of this year’s veterans;

“When I told him of the program, he started to cry and said in a stuttering voice, ‘But I have no money’. When I explained to him it didn't cost him anything, just permission to let us do it, he proceeded to tear some more.”

Sandy believes that Holiday Hearts for Vets has a lot to be thankful for this year.  They have been blessed by support and donations from many sources:

  • Penny Perasso of Grey-Wolf Designs donated her talents to create a wonderful new logo.   Check the logo out at the beginning of this article!

  • HHFV also had help from Miller Finch of Miller Finch Media in helping to write a letter for a recently featured newspaper article.  

  • They also thank Joe Soltis of Soltis Consulting for setting up their non-profit status.

New this year is Holiday Hearts for Vets Christmas Cards for Troops program.  Central Elementary in Lexington, VA., was picked to help get the cards to our soldiers.  They helped send over 500 of them!!!

Central Elementary Students Help Send Cards to Our Troops!
Sandy gives credit to Jacinta Jacfred Creation Stationary for helping her make the connections necessary for getting the cards.  A generous paper company donated all the cards, but they wish to remain anonymous.

Also, this year the local Waynesboro, VA Home Depot  donated the decorations needed.  Sandy hopes this will be an ongoing thing as the need is great.

HHFV also thanks Michael Camden Landscaping and LawnCare for jumping on board to assist with clean up. 

Sandy’s hope is that in the coming years they can get a construction company to donate their time and skills to our vets.  Many need help completing minor repairs, or constructing a wheelchair ramp, etc.

If you are in the Rockbridge area and want to help, be sure to contact them.  You can find Holiday Hearts for Vets through this Facebook link

Or, you may even be inspired to start a similar program in your area!

We thank Sandy and Holiday Hearts for Vets for spreading Christmas cheer to our veterans.....What a great example of knowing “the reason for the season” to us all!

Authored by  

To learn more about deserving businesses in our “Small Business Spotlight” series, or for tips to help your own small business, be sure to visit my blog and website.

We can also connect on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

5 Tips to Help You Make the Best “Holiday Hires”!

Is Your Business Hiring for the Holidays?
Find out what You Need to Know Now!
Anyone who will be out shopping in the next  couple months or so will come in contact with “holiday hires”. These employees are hired on a seasonal basis to keep a company running during this hectic season.

While it may seem that finding and hiring seasonal employees would be an easy task ~ there are definite pitfalls that you need to avoid. 

The key to making this hiring process run smoothly? Developing sound guidelines and sticking to them! Going in haphazardly or rushed will only set you up for failure.

So, when you find yourself in need of Holiday Hires (or any temp employees for that matter), these 5 tips will help you make the best decisions.

5 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Workers
  • Start Early
If at all possible, avoid beginning your seasonal hiring process until the last minute. Giving yourself the time you need to find the best temporary employees will save you a lot of headaches.

Even if you find yourself getting a late start, following these other tips can still help you be successful in your quest.
  • Stick with What Works
If your existing hiring practices are successful, why change them for your temporary hires? Many will argue that the rushed timeframe and pressure to fill your hiring needs justifies cutting corners. I completely disagree. Doing so will only open your company to unnecessary risk.

Instead, it is more important than ever for you to maintain your hiring standards. Be sure to follow your usual interview and screening processes to ensure the safety and integrity of your company.
  • Check References and Criminal History
Many times, the temporary nature of “seasonal employees” and the heightened sense of urgency fools companies into believing they can skip this step.

This is a possibly costly mistake. Unless your hire has worked for you before, omitting the background check can cause you major problems. It is actually more important than ever to make sure your new hire is reliable and trustworthy.

Having to worry about whether they will show up on time or is apt to steal from you simply adds more stress to the holiday chaos. That is why checking references and criminal history may actually be more important than ever.
Discover more about why using Background Checks makes Sense for Your Small Business, HERE!

  • Use Previous Hires or Existing Resources
Don’t forget about temporary workers you have used in holidays past. They are a great pool of talent to fill your needs. You can even tap into the friends and families of your existing employees, college students on break, or retirees.

Each of these resources can help you find the seasonal hires you need, and many have the flexible schedules you want.
  • Don’t Overlook Training
While you may not be able to offer your usual orientation to get your seasonal employees up to speed, you still need to provide a condensed version to make sure your news hires will be ready to step right in.

It is important you develop a training plan that focuses on exactly what your holiday hires need to know to be successful. Place special emphasis on working safely, customer service, and following procedures.

Remember, even temporary employees are the face of your company. It is crucial to realize they are often the first thing your customers see. A bad impression can leave them with a lasting, negative feeling about you and your company ~ one that will remain long after the holiday rush. Therefore, hiring the best possible should be your ultimate goal.

Following these 5 tips will help you make the successful seasonal hires you need.   

These hires can then turn into a great resource for finding permanent employees. That is why doing it right the first time makes sense!

Do you have tips for surviving the Holiday Rush? Please leave them in the comments below!

Authored by  

Check out our site to learn how API can help You and Your Small Business!
Find tips and information on our About UsBackground Investigation, Business Mentoring, and Security Consulting pages too.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ready to Improve Your Brand? Why You Need Think Before Clicking "Like"!

Created by Kim Kline, API

How Careful are You when Using Social Media?
Do you really give it much thought 
when you “like” something on Facebook, 
or any other social network?  

Do you simply see a cute photo, funny story, interesting post, or great product and give it the “thumbs up”?

Many do just that. Even if we pause for a moment, it is simply too easy to press the “like” button for something that makes us smile, think a little, or catches our eye.

However, this may not be the best tack to take.  

Your “like” may actually reveal more about you than you think.  

According to a 2013 Cambridge University study, Facebook “likes” can be used to accurately predict things like race, gender, sexual orientation, political party, religion, drug use, and relationship status*. (Source 1)

In most cases, your "like" is not an obvious statement, such as when you "like" a certain political or social page, but a pattern of “likes” that allow others to “infer attributes such as intelligence, sexual orientation, or political views that an individual may not have intended to share”.

Many times these are things about ourselves that we may not even be aware we are sharing. And recent issues with Facebook and our elections shows that companies and candidates are watching!!

In reality, your “like” may even be seen as an endorsement.

When you click “like” on a product or business page, it is assumed that you have a connection with that company. People may think you have used their product or service and, unless you state otherwise, are happy with it.

Companies are also counting on the fact that when you “like” a product or service on Facebook, that “like” will now be seen by your friends. The result? Instant advertising and product endorsement.

And the power of a Facebook "like" doesn't stop there. Even the courts are in on the act.  

A case concerning Facebook "likes" came out of the Virginia circuit court. It involved police department employees and their “like” of a rival Sheriff candidate’s Facebook page. The current sheriff objected and instituted disciplinary actions against the department employees. In turn, they filed a lawsuit against the sheriff.  

The court ruled that Facebook "likes" are protected as free speech. Therefore, the sheriff could not legally take any actions against the department employees for liking the page or posts of the rival sheriff.

However, the court also stated that “liking a political candidate's campaign page communicates the user's approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it”.

The most concerning part of this is that, according to the court, 
a “like” shows “approval”, in this case of a candidate.   
It stands to reason then that this approval may be inferred about any other post you “like”.

As you can see, whether you mean to or not, Facebook “likes” can present a picture of who you are and what you think.  

Some things, like causes you believe in, you may want to share. While other things, like your politics, you may not.

While this may not mean much if you simply use Facebook to connect with friends, for those of you cultivating an online business presence, this can be more problematic.

The professional brand you build needs to be protected. Creating trust between yourself and your customers takes time. But it can take very little to lose it. 

You may find that certain “likes” actually alienate potential clients, or attract interest you never intended.  

Learn more about mixing your business and personal life and views ~ and why sometimes it makes sense in "Are You Ever Smart to Mix Your Personal Beliefs with Your Business?".

And if you are in the market to for new job or even a promotion, your online image has weight ~ and that includes what you "like" and share.  

Employers will look.  Projecting the most professional image possible goes a long way.

"Social network posts, comments, and pictures by either you or others may reveal information about you that you might not want a potential employer to know. The truth is, employers often use whatever information they can obtain to help them make a hiring decision. It is important that you know what information can be seen by those not even in “your circle” and to think about what kind of conclusions might be drawn from it."

Excerpt from; "Social Media, Background Checks, and Company Policy".

As you can see, the Facebook, 
or other social media “like”, 
may not be as innocent as it seems.  

However, being aware of that is more than half the battle. 

Keep that in mind and you can enjoy the wonderful connections and fun that “liking”, sharing, and commenting on posts can bring.

Pay it Forward!  
Please Share and "Like" this post! 

Authored by

API can Help You or Your Company Navigate the world of Background Checks, Hiring, and running your Business!

Discover more About Us and get answers to  Your Questions too!

Source 1:  "Private Traits and Attributes are Predictable fromDigital Records of Human Behavior"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I am Thankful...........

November is a time for many of us to take time and give thanks.  We may gather family and friends around us for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, or simply join them in watching our favorite football teams compete.

Whatever you choose, the season brings thoughts of get togethers and a feeling of thankfulness.

I would like to extend that gratitude to you ~ my clients, readers, and Social Media friends.

Despite being in business for almost 17 years, this past year has made me feel more successful than ever.  What is really special is that this success does not come solely from having a healthy bottom line.  

It comes from the feeling of being blessed to have connected with each of you.  You have all been extremely supportive of my efforts and it has renewed my commitment to you and to my business.

I start and end each day with a sense of purpose, and I am thankful.

I can honestly say that I feel lucky and privileged.  You are all wonderful and amazing people.  Many of you are pursuing your own success, and I admire your efforts.  I also hope you feel the same sense of encouragement from me that I feel from all of you.

It is also gratifying to feel the camaraderie you have all shared with me.  It will never be forgotten.

My goal is to strive to live by these words from John F. Kennedy and put my gratitude and appreciation into action throughout the year.   You all deserve nothing less.

In closing I leave you with these thoughts:

“Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places ~ productive, fulfilling, peaceful places. So be happy for those who are making progress. Cheer for their victories. Be thankful for their blessings, openly. What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you're cheering for will start cheering for you.”     Unknown

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For more of my articles, please take a moment and subscribe to my blog.  You can also find more about what I do in my business, Access Profiles, Inc. on my website.

I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Thank you all!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Become that “Go To” Person and Help Your Business Succeed!

Finding ways to set your company apart from the competition makes you memorable.  

That means finding something about you and your company that speaks to you and focusing your efforts on spreading the word.......

Unless your business is completely unique, you will have to deal with the reality of competition. Other companies are bound to offer products or services very much like your own.

The question then becomes, How Can You Set Yourself Apart from the Crowd?

 I think the answer is to 
Become that “Go To” Person!

You need to establish yourself as “the” person that comes to mind when others need a specific problem solved or help in reaching the next step. When you accomplish that, you are now a “Go To” Person!

We have found 6 ways to help set our business apart from even our biggest competitors ~  and they can help you too.

Check out these Quotes to Inspire You and Get You Started:

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." ~ Stephen R. Covey
  • Establish Yourself as Someone who will Listen. Really talk with your clients. Ask them questions and then use what you learn to help them find a solution to their problems and concerns. Practice this and they will come back time after time.
A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”   ~ Henry Ford
  • Be Available and Provide Stellar Service. In our business, we make sure we are available. We are there not only for routine projects but also for rush jobs others may not want to take. We always focus on doing exactly, or even more, than what we say we are going to do. Focus on service does not go unnoticed.
Don’t treat your customers like a bunch of purses and wallets.” ~ Chris Brogan
  • Show Your Customers that You truly Care about Them and Their Businesses. Make sure they know through your actions, not just your words, that you are not just in it for yourself. Put them first and you cannot fail.
Genius is seldom recognized for what it is: a great capacity for hard work.”  ~ Henry Ford
  • Work Harder and More Passionately than Your Competition. Pride yourself on exceeding your client’s expectations. You will be rewarded for it. 
I have discovered that by providing my clients with the quality Background Checks they need, my business is completely in line with my values and what is important to me.  This is my “why”!” ~ quote from my blog article “I Know Why I do What I Do!”
  • Don’t be all Business. Show a little of your personal side to your clients. Let them know what makes you tick. We have found the best way to do this is through our blog. By reading our articles they know what API is all about and where we are coming from. Revealing a little "About You" adds depth to your character and helps your customers get to know you.

Given the chance people will buy from people who care.”~ Paco Underhill.
  • Be Known for Something. Find that thing that is uniquely yours. Pick something important and do that better than anyone else. This is called finding your “niche”.  Our focus is being a friend to Small Business. We have proven time and again that we realize their needs and will work with them, providing the quality they deserve. They know we care.
No matter what you choose to do, being a “Go To” Person will help you achieve your own success.  

You will also gain great satisfaction in knowing you have achieved your goal to set yourself apart from the norm.

 We wish you luck!

Are You a "Go To" Person in Your Field? Share your tips that helped get you there!

Authored by  

Be sure to visit our website for more ways to help your business lead the pack. We also invite you to subscribe so you won’t miss our latest new article (and we promise no spam!).  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Background Checks & “Ban the Box” - The Pendulum Swings

Do You Understand “Ban the Box”?  
Do You Know what it means to both 
Employers and Employees?

I recently read an article summarizing the EEOC’s guidelines regarding background checks in the hiring process; “EEOC’s Guidance on Criminal Background Checks Questioned”.

In it, author Jim Evans takes a look at what the EEOC is trying to accomplish with its quest to “ban the box” and lessen instances of “disparate impact” that using background checks can create.  The EEOC believes that automatically eliminating candidates that have prior criminal records disqualifies many unfairly.

A Criminal Record Shouldn't Automatically Mean You Won't Get the Job  "Tweet This"

This is the crux of the movement to “ban the box”.

While I have written on the subject before, the continued confusion surrounding this issue prompts me to revisit it.

At its most basic, 
“ban the box” is the removal of 
the question or “box” on an application 
that asks whether the person 
has a criminal history.  

The belief is that by disclosing that early in the application process, many are being automatically rejected.

The EEOC believes that by waiting until after a conditional offer of employment to check criminal history, the process is more fair and unbiased.  EEOC guidelines also require that employers only consider criminal acts that have a direct impact on the open position and have been committed in the past 7 years.

Many states have enacted legislation to “ban the box”.  Some have limited it to state employers, while others are expanding it to the private sector.  Either way, many private companies are being proactive and creating policies that follow EEOC guidelines on this issue.

It seems to many that 
the pendulum now swings in favor of 
the employees over that of the employer.  
I don’t believe it needs to be viewed that way.

In fact, “ban the box” can be as good 
for the company as it is for the applicant.

Here are 2 Ways Opting to “Ban the Box” May be Good for Your Business:

“Ban the Box” Can Save You Money - By only running a criminal background check on the applicants given a conditional offer of employment, companies will be reducing the amount of time and money spent on these investigations.

Since “ban the box” only covers criminal records, applicants that are given conditional offers would have already been determined to meet all other requirements of the job.  Their education, past employment, references, and skills should have been verified prior to that conditional offer.

“Ban the Box” can Protect You from Litigation - Companies that employ “ban the box” are more likely to have a sound policy in place concerning criminal background checks.

They would have determined what prior criminal activity is detrimental to the safe performance of the job’s duties, written guidelines to adhere to the “7 year” rule, and made sure all applicant’s sign a release prior to running the criminal background check.  Such companies also would be careful to notify the applicants of any adverse findings and give them the opportunity to disprove or mitigate them.

Employing these practices can lessen the likelihood of EEOC investigations into your hiring practices. It can also help avoid lawsuits based on employment discrimination from rejected applicants.

This is why “Ban the Box” 
does not have to be seen as a negative
Over time, most things in life and in business 
run on an undulating path - 
much like the swing of a pendulum.

While right now it may seem to many business owners that the pendulum is fixed on the rights of the applicants, the reality is that "Ban the Box" can benefit both.

Authored by

To learn more about how you can use Background Checks to help your Small Business, be sure to check out our Website

You can also find out more About Us and our Hiring, Business Mentoring, and Security Consulting services too!
Message us through our Contact Page to find out what API can do for You and Your Business!

Monday, October 28, 2013


Very little is guaranteed in today’s business world. A lack of certainty in the global economy cannot only take its toll on your everyday life, but it can also be a dark cloud on your job search. In an effort to educate the active and/or passive job seeker, today I will provide the best advice I can give as a subject-matter expert in the recruitment and interviewing space: Do Your Homework! The worse thing that any job seeker can do is to apply to a job or company that they have not fully researched.

As recruiting professionals, we have all dealt with the active job seeker who reads the job title, assumes they fully know the duties that go along with the job, and without any real thought, applies for the job - This is a HUGE mistake! On the other end of the spectrum are the passive job seekers who hear about a great job, get lost in the role, and never take the time to research the company - Another MAJOR mistake!

So let’s explore this from both angles. Your resume should not only represent your credentials and qualifications, but it should also leave a lasting impression on the individuals that review it. By applying to jobs without fully reading the entire job description, it reads as a detriment to your character—more than you may realize. Applying carelessly can be seen as a lack of maturity and professionalism, and believe it or not, it creates a very memorable impression in the mind of the recruiter!

On the other hand, large scale layoffs are all too common nowadays, and often the last employees in are the first ones out. This is important to keep in mind when looking for a new employer. Some companies are more stable than others, and you owe it to yourself to thoroughly research those you are considering before making a commitment.

The following are 5 Things Every Job Candidate Should Do when Applying for a Job:

Ask the difficult questions about your potential new opportunity: Before uprooting your life to make a career move, try to see past the hiring manager’s rosy pitch or the recruiter’s hard sell by asking questions around things they might not be telling you.

For example:

Who is the owner/President/CEO, and what are their backgrounds?
What the current and past revenues - are they growing, shrinking, or flat, and why?
Who are the competitors, and what is their competitive advantage?
Why is the role vacant - is it a new role, or what happened to the prior individuals who held the role?
What is the bandwidth of the company - what resources will you have or not to accomplish the objectives of your new role?

Google Everything: When making the decision to apply for a new job opportunity, you want to know everything you possibly can find out about that role, the company, and their people prior to making that decision. Dig into the many resources out there and get an idea if the job and company will still be there a year after you take it.

Use Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all great resources while researching a company. Many have their own profiles where they post updates about company news, products, and promotions.

Network: Sometimes, it’s all about who you know. It’s interesting when you really start putting the feelers out there to your network what type of information you can gather.

Read the Fundamentals: Probably the easiest (but also probably the one thing most people just don’t do) is read the company’s website. Learn what they do and who they do it for, check out the 'about us' page, download their white papers, and read their blog.

Here at Excelsior, we often begin interviews by telling candidates this: our job is to help our clients hire the right person for the role, and in doing so, we believe we have an obligation to help you, the candidate, determine if this role and company is a match for you as well. No single source ever reflects the whole story. Doing your homework will help you outshine your competition in an interview while providing you the context to decide if that dream offer really is the right fit for you.

Written by Excelsior, Inc.'s Director of Talent Acquisition, James Moore.  Read Excelsior’s blog here.

I would add a 6th tip to help any Job Seeker - Make sure your background is as clean as possible.  While "googling" your potential new company, why not Google yourself?  Finding out what is "out there" about you before you apply for a new job helps if you need to mitigate anything the hiring company may find!  Read more of my tips in "Why You Should Run a Background Check on Yourself!".

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We All Can “Make a Difference”!

“Make a Difference Day” is a national day of helping others.

 Sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine, this year it is Saturday, October 25th.

Once again, this day has me thinking about what I can do as an individual and in my business to help others and truly "make a difference".  I believe that no matter how small, our actions can promote change in the lives of others as well as our own.

Previously, I wrote an article on how Mentoring is a great way to give back (check it out here)!

Now I am concentrating on some things I can do to help those right in my own community. Sometimes it seems that we forget that there are people in need close to home.

Here are a few things I think we can all do:

  • Volunteer and/or Donate to our Local Food Pantries -  I have a wonderful organization in my neighborhood, North Hills Community Outreach, that is always in need of coats, non-perishables, and school supplies to help area families.  

  • Support Your Local Library - My library holds semi-annual book sales and offers “Library Friends” memberships.  These donations help keep it running despite dwindling federal funds. 

  • Organize an Area clean-up Effort - Whether with your business or with a group of friends, keeping your neighborhood clean is great for all.

  • Adopt a Pet or Donate to a No-kill Shelter - While we might not all be able or willing to have a new pet join our family, helping these animal friendly organizations is worthwhile.

  • Help a Neighbor - Maybe you can give them a hand with yard work, give them a ride or run errands ~ whatever they may not be able to do themselves.  

  • “Blessing Bags” - This idea came from a Facebook friend of mine, Laura Braun Weldon! “Blessing Bags” are a gallon size resealable bag filled with useful items you can pass on to homeless people in your area. 

“Blessing Bag” items can include:  chap stick, tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, comb, soap, hotel size shampoos, trail mix, granola bars, crackers, packs of gum, band aids, mouthwash, hand wipes, warm socks, a packet rain poncho or large clear plastic trash bag, coins or a small amount of money - the possibilities are endless!

You can even include a small note or card of encouragement.  It is a great idea to keep a few “Blessing Bags” in your car for when the opportunity arises.

This is a wonderful project you can do with your children....and a fantastic way to teach them about helping others.

Finally, if you really want to “make a difference” in your own community, you can Shop Local. Any time you buy from a neighborhood small business, you help the business owner, their family, and their employees.  What could be a better way to make a change in your own neighborhood?

No matter if you choose one of these suggestions or come up with something on your own, it doesn’t have to be a monumental gesture or cost a lot of money.  Every little thing we do that puts others before ourselves creates a better world.  

Remember, We all can “Make a Difference”.  What Will You Do?

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How You Can Use the “10th Man” to Help Promote Your Business!

My favorite baseball team was fortunate enough to make a run into the post-season ~ for the first time in 20 years!  Needless to say, the city was in a frenzy when, during the wild card game and first series, our team played at home.

During those games, the fans were dubbed the “10th man” by announcers and reporters alike. Our enthusiasm and cheering truly became a part of the game.  We were not only there to bolster our own players but also to influence the other team.

Even though we won that wild card game, unfortunately our team was stopped short during the next round.  But that is when the fans really began to rally.  It was now our turn to congratulate our team on an exciting and energizing season.  We were also there to show them our continuing loyalty and faith.

We were the team’s “10th Man”!

I believe you can use this principle and convert your loyal customers into your own “10th Man”!

Think of  your customers as “fans”.  They are already happy with your work and are repeat customers. Now they can also be your best ally in spreading the word about your business!  Here is what you can do........

4 Ways Your Customers Can Help Your Business Succeed:

  • By Writing You a Recommendation - A great time to ask your clients for a written recommendation is after a job well done!  Let them know you are happy you could help them and would appreciate them writing you a recommendation.  Make sure they know you plan on featuring it on your website and other social media platforms.  Most will be happy to help!

  • Through Word of Mouth Advertising - Many times, without even being asked, your loyal customers will let other know about your good work.  But sometimes, they may need a little prompting.  When your clients let you know they are grateful for some particular work you have done, ask them to spread the word.  

  • By Using Your Customers as References - When pursuing new business, or simply on your website, listing your best customers makes sense.  Be sure to let them know first that you will be doing this.  Being sure that the clients on your list will say good things about you and your company is key! 

  • By Asking Your Clients for Referrals - Approach your good customers with your wishes to expand your business or reach more potential clients.  Your good customers will be willing to either give you names of other businesses or offer to let their business friends know themselves. In this way you can reach a wider client base and open up possibilities that may have never come to you otherwise.

No matter what options you may choose, using your satisfied and loyal customers as your own “10th Man” makes sense.  They can be an effective, low cost way to help you promote the great work you do.

What are You Waiting For?

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