Monday, April 28, 2014

One Size Does Not Fit All ~ Why You Need to Fit the Background Check to the Job!


When it comes to Background Checks, clients often ask “what exactly do I need to screen for”? The answer? It dependsIt depends on what position you are looking to fill and what your job description requires.

It is wise, and cost effective, to fit the Background Check to your open position. This means covering only what is necessary in your screening process. Doing this requires pre-planning. Therefore, before you need to hire, it is best to get your job descriptions in place.  

Make sure you outline in advance details for each position in your company. You should determine the education/training and prior experience required. You will also need to describe the job’s responsibilities and duties. 

Most employment screenings require some type of criminal background check. Therefore, you need to decide if a criminal or civil record would prohibit your candidate from performing the job requirements safely.  

This is where you need to be especially specific. It is crucial you determine exactly what types of crimes would be of concern ~ assault, drugs, theft, etc. The key is to make sure the crimes that would prohibit hire are ones that would keep the applicant from performing the duties listed in your job description.

For example, if your job requires driving a company vehicle, a record of drunk driving would be of concern. Or, it would be reasonable that jobs where your employee has access to customer’s homes would require a more stringent criminal check.

You may also want to check for any civil court records if a position requires access to company funds. In that case, financial crimes like embezzlement may prohibit hiring.



Here is what you should consider before deciding on the scope of your background check:
  • Level of Position  
It makes sense to elevate your screening as the position advances. While entry level positions may only require criminal checks, you may add education, references, and more as determined to be wise for higher company jobs.
  • Access to Company Assets  
Does the position require handling money or product? If so, criminal and civil record checks would be a must ~ looking for a crime like theft would be of interest.
  • Access to Sensitive Data
Making sure your applicant has never been convicted of a crime related to mis-using company data is key. 
  • Contact with Clients, Customers, and Employees  
Will they be the “face” of your company? Actually go into client’s homes or businesses? Work closely with other employees? Knowing whether your applicant has a history of physical or emotional violence and abuse is necessary to a safe hire.
Being as specific as possible with this list will help you determine what you need to screen during your employment background check.  
It is important to be consistent across similar positions in your company. This helps you avoid charges of discrimination in how you use background checks. 

The EEOC also weighs in on this issue, especially in the area of criminal background checks. According to the EEOC’s Compliance Manual on Race and Color Discrimination , employers must “be able to justify (the decision not to hire due to information obtained in a background check) as job-related and consistent with business necessity”. 

In order to be compliant with EEOC best practices, you need to consider these 3 factors:
  • The nature and gravity of the offense.
  • The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence.
  • The nature of the job held or sought.
High on the EEOC’s radar is  the “blanket exclusion” of anyone convicted of a crime from being hired. Remember, your decision needs to be “job related and consistent with business necessity”.

When faced with a background check containing a criminal record, you need to evaluate whether that crime poses a risk based on the job description. That is where carefully crafting those descriptions in advance pays off (and working with a great background check company can help!).  

As you can see, a “one size fits all” approach to background checks is unwise, and may put you on the EEOC’s watch list. 
Instead, being proactive and carefully writing thorough job descriptions will help you save money by screening for only what is necessary ~ and keep you compliant.
That is definitely a Winning Combination!



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Monday, April 21, 2014

Hiring an Intern? Don’t Skip the Background Check!


Do You do Background Checks on Your Interns?

Many college students and recent grads are focused on finding that "perfect job". However, it often takes longer than expected. So instead, it may be time to go against the norm and instead work on finding that perfect internship

The key is to find one that will give them the “real work experience” they need and test the skills they have worked so hard to attain. They recognize that an internship can be a valuable learning experience and a way to get their foot in the door to their chosen field. Most have never worked in a professional environment and believe an internship will teach them the ins and outs.

But internships aren't only good for the interns!
Employers can also gain great benefits from hiring interns. 

Interns offers companies the chance to develop talent and get fresh insights into their business. There is also the added benefit of finding possible future hires.

However, Internships in general have been debated. Questions revolves around whether, under current labor laws, interns should be paid. Multiple lawsuits have been decided on the side of the interns and many believe this could result in a decrease of internship programs. But, the reality is that not offering internships is not in anyone's best interests ~ and paying them actually helps, not hurst your business!

Discover 3 Reasons Why You Should be Paying Your Interns here!


Companies would do well to continue using interns. 
Not only is it a great way of gaining the valuable talents of new hires without a long term commitment, it is also an opportunity to “pay it forward” to the next generation of young professionals. 

However, as with any new hire, bringing interns into your company is not without some risk.

Employers usually minimize this risk by running background checks on their applicants. When it comes to interns, however, many don’t utilize this resource.


Since interns are, by nature, part-time hires, employers question whether investing time and money into screening them is necessary.  

To determine that, it is best to take a look at what your intern will be doing during their time with your company and fit the background check to the job!!


Before deciding whether you need to do a background check on your intern, ask yourself this:
  • Will your intern have access to proprietary or sensitive client information? 
  • Will they handle company funds or other valuable assets? 
  • Do they come in contact with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable individuals?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then screening potential interns is wise. 

In these cases, you should at the minimum run a criminal history check. Finding out if your potential intern has been convicted of violent crimes or theft is crucial. In addition, if a certain level of skill is necessary to complete their duties, then verifying that they possess that skill is also in your best interest. 

However, if your internship largely consists of shadowing existing employees or acting mainly as a “mentee”, then running a background check becomes more discretionary.

What employers need to keep in mind is that as with any hire, protecting your company, your employees, and your customers must come first. 
Using a background check as a tool to that end is always in a company’s best interest, even if it is on a temporary employee.
The bottom line is this ~ background checks are designed to give you peace of mind. Whether that new hire is permanent or an intern, you have invested too much time, money, and hard work in your company to put it at risk. 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Tips to Help You Gain Focus & Get Active!


No doubt about it.  It is time to Get Active!

After these holiday months, I am ready to put some focus on me!  The problem?  I still need to work.  I have clients to keep happy and bills to pay.  I also have blogs to write and social media obligations.


Is it possible to do both?  
I answer with a resounding “Yes”!

The key for me has been to not deny myself.  I have implemented a work schedule with built in “me time”.  I find that when it is scheduled into my day, I do it!

As an added benefit, I found that taking an “active” break recharges me.  I gain better focus, added energy, and even find that I am more creative.


Regular active breaks get you away from your desk and out of your seat. Like most people, I enjoy and am energized by my breaks from work. 


Taking an active break does not have to be a huge commitment.  It can be as simple as a 10 or 15 minute walk around the block or, as it sometimes is for me, a quick stepping or boxing session with my Wii.

What is important is planning these breaks into your day.  I find it best to begin each day with something active.  It gets my metabolism moving and revs up my energy to tackle the work ahead.

The next break I take is usually around lunch.  If I can, I like to get outside and take a brisk walk.  If the weather isn’t cooperating, once again it is my Wii to the rescue.  

I end the day much the same way.  Many times it is a longer walk or Wii session after dinner.  The longer Spring and Summer days really help.






Reasons Why I Take a Break:




  • It is Good for My Body and Health ~ My body is not designed for sitting hours on end.  I know my back, neck, and shoulders feel the strain, along with my eyes from staring at my screen.  Getting up and moving has made all the difference.
  • I Feel More Creative & Effective ~ I have found that when I return after a brisk walk (or a session on my Wii!), my mind is clearer.  Often something that has been puzzling me, or a blog article that just won’t come together, is suddenly not so daunting.


  • I Become more In-tune with my Surroundings ~ Without sounding too “zen”, I find real peace being outside and moving (and if that outside happens to be the beach, watch out!).    
  • I Feel Much Better at the End of the Day ~ Stress levels and headaches are lessened and my energy high.  I have also found I sleep much better!
According to an article on sharecare.com, “Take Short Walks to Live Longer”;
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 30 minutes of physical activity each day. By squeezing in an additional 15 minutes, you'll likely live even longer and make your daily life a lot more pleasurable.”

While working from home definitely helps me easily fit these active breaks into my schedule, 
you can do this even from an outside office.  



Tips on How You can Incorporate Active Breaks into Your Day
  • Go for a Short Walk Every Day ~ It can be outside or indoors, just get moving!  Over time you can increase your distance, or simply take a few short walking breaks each day (even three 15 minute breaks work great).
  • Join a Fitness Program ~ Choose a time that works for you.  Try to choose an activity that you can also do on your own time.  This will help you keep it up even on weekends.
  • Support a Fund-Raising Walk or Run ~ Join with co-workers or, if you work from home, recruit other local at-home workers.  Train for the event as a group daily or at least several times a week.  This type of active break is great for team building. 
No matter what you do, 
it is important that you Get Active!

While I have certainly not always been the “poster child” for healthy living, I have discovered that I really need to do this for me.  It is not simply about fitting into nicer clothes, it is about my overall physical and mental well being.

Occasionally I am able to take a much longer than normal break in downtown Washington D.C.  I will meet my husband for lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon walking down to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms if they are in season.  I then make my way to the WWII Memorial, walk along the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial, and then the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials. 

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I even get to see the the Einstein statue (one of my favorites)!  I then make my way along Connecticut Ave., up 17th, to Farragut Park and back on the Metro.







***Side note ~ I took all the pictures in this post during that walk!










While I don’t usually have the 
luxury of all that time, 
taking an extended break can be glorious.  

I hope each of you can do it too.  You are worth it!

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