Sunday, December 21, 2014

I am Taking a Holiday Break, Are You?

Small Business Tips & News

I love the holidays.  For me, it has always been an entire season that begins with Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after the New Year!

It is a time filled with family gatherings, seeing friends, baking cookies (which really only happens once a year!), watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas carols.  

And the quiet times spent with all the lights off except for the tree, a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, are my absolute favorite!

The holidays are also when my family takes complete precedence over work.  While during the year I balance the two, one winning over the other as necessary, I need this time for family.

To that end, I will be taking a break from blog writing and work until the new year

I wish all of you the chance to do the same! 

I will be sharing some old posts with a theme of looking forward and helping you with your business.  I hope you enjoy them!

May you remember to savor the memories you will create with those you love.  Nothing says holidays more!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Background Checks ~ What Companies are Really Looking For!

Anyone in the market for a new job (whether that be with a new company or for a promotion within) will most likely be subject to a Background Check.

What will be searched can vary, both company to company and job position to job position. However, there are common denominators among the majority of Background Checks.

And despite employment screening being a common practice, many are still confused about what a company is really searching for and why.

The list below will help clear up any misconceptions and, hopefully, give you some peace of mind when you find yourself facing an employment background check.

Employment Background Checks ~ What an Employer is Really Looking For the Common Misconceptions about each:
  • An Honest List of Your Job Titles & Employment Date
What an Employer is Looking For ~ The types of jobs you have held, how long you were in a position, did you progress within the company, and your reason for leaving.  In addition, they are interested in any projects you worked on or spear-headed while there.

Misconception ~ Many believe that embellishing a resume is such a common practice that doing so is not a problem.  And others feel like they have to do it to compete in a crowded job market.  Both of these are wrong.

The Truth ~ For most positions, part of your background check will include past employment verification.  Here your prospective employer will contact the human resources department at your old job and ask about your title, your employment dates, and possibly your salary.  Being less than truthful about any of these things, therefore, is a good way to get flagged as a liar.
  • A List of Your Education and Skills
What an Employer is Looking For ~ The first thing they want verified is whether you possess the degree or training needed to fulfill the job requirements.  They are also interested in determining if you were truthful in the education or skills listed on your resume.

Misconception ~ The belief that even if you didn’t graduate, you can lie about your degree because you need it to land the job.

The Truth ~ Degrees will be checked!  And it is fairly easy to verify if a degree or training certificate has been earned.  The bottom line ~ you need to possess the skills to do the job, and any new employer will want to be certain you have what it takes.

Find out more about Education verifications in "Hiring ~ Why You need to Verify their Degree First!".

  • Your Criminal Record (probably the hottest topic and the one most associated with Background Checks)
What an Employer is Looking For ~ Any past convictions that could jeopardize the safety of a company’s assets, employees, or customers and/or that hinder you from successfully fulfilling the job’s duties.

Misconception ~ Companies place the most importance on your criminal record and if you have a criminal record you won’t get the job.  When consenting to an employment screening, many job seekers simply equate “background check” with “criminal background check.”

The Truth ~ Background checks are not solely looking for criminal history, it is simply one part of the equation.  And many new and updated laws curb what can be considered and even when a criminal record can be searched on any applicant.  Most screenings will only be looking for convictions that would directly impact your ability to safely do the job.  (I wrote about this previously in my article on convictions versus arrests).

And while it is true that people with criminal convictions face a harder time finding jobs, it is not impossible.  Those same laws that limit when and how criminal records can be considered also guard against blanket discrimination against former offenders.  
  • Your Reference/Past Employer Feedback
What an Employer is Looking For ~ Any hint as to what kind of co-worker/employee you will be.  Did you fit in at your previous jobs?  Did you work well on group projects?  Where you able to succeed as a leader?

Misconception ~ You can control what an employer finds out about you by listing only what you believe to be “sure fire” references.  

The Truth ~ You may think you know exactly what your listed references or past employers are going to say about you, but what about those that a screener will develop?  Many companies use the references you list only as a starting point.  They will then ask those references for anyone else they know who would be willing to answer questions about you.  Your best bet is to be ready to answer any questions that may arise, both good and bad, from an inquiry into your past working relationships. 

Discover more about Employment verifications here
  • Your Social Media Sites
What an Employer is Looking For ~ Anything you have posted on your social media sites that may pose a risk to their company. 

Misconception ~ Employers can’t search your Social Media sites or that what you post is simply you exercising your “freedom of speech”.  

The Truth ~ In my experience, Employers use social media in a very limited way, and none will ask for your passwords to your sites.  However, that does not mean that they don’t check them at all, or that it is illegal to check them.  Most employers will take a look.  Their focus, however, is on questionable photos, comments perceived to be vulgar or radical, etc.  They really want to know whether you illustrate good judgment about what you post.  An article I wrote previously on the use of social media in background checks can be found here.

Remember, employers will run some type of a background check before hiring you.  
The job market is crowded and employers are rightfully concerned over making safe hires and avoiding litigation.

Being prepared on your part will go a long way towards making the process less mysterious and alleviate your concerns.  

That preparation should include a preview of what is “out there” about you.  To that end, I recommend you run a background check on yourself before you apply.  You can find tips on how to do this here.

After you have that information, it is time you get your entire resume “background check ready” (find out how here).

You will find that doing the work beforehand will give you peace of mind and increase your chances of landing the job.
Need Help? Contact Us Now!  
We will guide you in creating Your "Background Check Ready" Resume and in Finding out what is "Out There" about You!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Top 10 Motivational Quotes to Inspire You

Created by Kimberly Kline
We all have times when we lose focus or feel less than motivated. Maybe we are dealing with a particularly hectic schedule. Or we have just gone through a day or two when nothing seems to be going right.

That is especially true for many small business owners.  We carry the weight of our businesses squarely on our shoulders.  And while we relish the freedom of making our own choices, that also comes will a lot of pressure.  

Whenever I am going through these rough times, that is when I need a boost the most.  Something to get me over the hump and back on track.  And I find that these quotes do just the trick.  Reading a few of them puts me in the frame of mind I need to tackle the day, the week, or even the month ahead.

In the spirit of paying it forward, and keeping in mind my focus on “why” I do what I do, 
I share 10 quotes that constantly inspire me to continue on my path, and I think they could do the same for you.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

What better inspiration than to realize you have the freedom to follow a path unique to you?

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." Mark Twain

"What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meeting adjourned, the lists laid aside....what still pulls your soul?"

This one really speaks to me.  I encourage you to find what makes you “tick” and gives you the greatest satisfaction ~ what could be better?  You can read about my journey of discovery in

"Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."  Eleanor Roosevelt
And I believe that no one is more of an individual than an entrepreneur!

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."  Albert Einstein

Lovely!!!  This one just puts me in the right frame of mind every time.
As people, and especially as entrepreneurs, there are things we can do daily to “pay it forward”.  And this quote always gives me a great reminder.  I have found some easy ways to use my own business to help other small businesses.  Here you will find my 4 tips!

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way. ”  Barbara Bush 

Every now and again I need a reminder that success is not always measured by my bank account.  While making money is certainly important, there are other things that bring even greater satisfaction.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

This goes for your clients too!  Making sure they know how important they are to you will go a long way!

"Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy"!

We have the power to choose our happiness.  And I believe that if something is bringing us down, we need to remove that from our lives.  That also is true in our business ~ Difficult clients being one of them! Find parts 1 and 2 of my series on Dealing with Problem Clients here and here.

And, finally, I close out this list with my absolute favorite motivational quote;
"You have Brains in your Head, You have Feet in your Shoes. You can Steer yourself in any Direction you Choose"! Dr. Seuss

and the quote continues......
"You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!  

To me, this sums up the life of an entrepreneur!  Go Dr. Seuss!

Now I encourage you to discover the words that will inspire you. You may find that some of the ones I have shared here speak to you too.  Or you may have to go in search of your own.  But either way, having some “go to” words of wisdom will help you when you need it.

And we all need that boost in our confidence or moment of clarity every now and again!  
Good luck!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Truth Behind the Background Check Industry ~ What You Need to Know

As is true with most news, it is the “Bad” news that gets the press. It is the same with the Background Check Industry.
Errors in Background Check reports, “Quick” turnaround companies, mistaken identities ~ the list goes on.  
The fact is , there are many more reputable Background Check companies out there than dishonest ones.  Most are careful to provide accurate and timely information and go to great lengths to do their best for their client and for the subject of their investigation.

However, “quick fix” companies are out there ~ despite the push by good companies to bring their sub par work into the light of day.

These companies continue because their promises of “instant” results sell.  They base their marketing on promoting quick information at a low cost.  That is alluring.  

The bottom line is that the public is misinformed.  The real truth is - not all Background Check companies are created equal.

As an industry, we need to acknowledge that these less than diligent companies harm us all.  The key is to educate the public as to the reality about background checks.  Making sure everyone understands their limits, and what a good background check company will do about them, is a great first step.

The most important thing everyone needs to know is that errors in background check reports do occur.  And these errors create risk.

Records searched can be incomplete and outdated.  Identities do get mixed up.  And mistakes, once made, are difficult to correct. 

When any of these errors do occur, job seekers and hiring companies are understandably frustrated.  

The situation worsens when screening companies rely too much on online databases for their research. 

In a previous article, “Background Checks and Online Databases - What You Need to Know!”, I explained the pros and cons of using these sources in your background checks.

Online databases can contain faulty information.  Using them as a “one and done” base for your background check can result in false positives and even allow offenders’ records to show up clear.

The crux is; “I think databases can be a great “jumping off” point in a Background Check investigation.  By using one you can quickly find past addresses, names used, and possible criminal records.  But it is not the best way to obtain accurate and complete information.  You can do better.”

It is also important for you to understand why these errors in background checks can occur.

The biggest problem is mistaken identities.  Common and similar names often cause the biggest problems.  This is compounded by the growing number of courts removing critical identifying information from their records.  For example, many federal courts have removed social security numbers from their records as an answer to rising concerns over identity theft. 

Offenders have also been known to use someone else’s social security number or date of birth when arrested.  This can cause serious problems when trying to verify a criminal record.

Mistakes also occur due to human error.  Information can be entered incorrectly.  Names, addresses, and other identifying information may be mistyped.

All this contributes to errors in screening reports.  

In addition, there are thousands of counties and districts in the United States, each with their own record keeping system. Jurisdictional processes are not the same state to state, or sometimes even among courts within the same state. 

While in an ideal world, all criminal records would be recorded accurately and in a timely manner, this is not always the case. Often times even records that are supposed to be expunged will still be discoverable.

The public’s demand for access to “national” records is part of the problem.  Many companies advertise that they are able to provide a “one stop” report that will cover all courts in all states. This is simply not true.

What these companies are providing is a database that they have compiled by accessing available records from multiple states, counties, and districts and advertising this as a “national” record.

The truth is that the quality of this information varies and not all courts in all states are included.  Even those records that are available may not contain both felonies and misdemeanors.

That is why it is crucial that all information found using any online database be confirmed directly from the original source.  

This is where hiring a reputable background check company can make all the difference.  They will go the extra mile to make sure the information they provide is as accurate as possible.

A good Background Check cannot be “instant”. When screening companies promise to provide you with information on the spot, you need to be wary.  This is another truth ~ and one you need to heed.

In reality, the majority of Background Check companies are different.  They honestly care about their integrity and their customers.  

Good companies will keep in mind your budget, but will still focus on providing quality information.  That is why it is important to remember that low cost is not always better.  Most times, you really do get what you pay for.

So, how do you find a good Background Check company?

Here I share 5 Tips to help you choose the best one for you ~ 
Remember, “The key is to find one that will work WITH you, not just FOR You!”.  

This is the real Truth behind the Background Check industry, not the dire stories that constantly fill the news.  There are professional and conscientious screening companies who are dedicated to helping your company. 

You can be assured that if you practice a little due diligence yourself, you will find the perfect Background Check company for your needs.  I guarantee it!

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If you have any questions about what a good Background Check can do for your company, Contact Us
We are available to answer all your questions and would be happy to provide you with a consultation.

You can also find some great tips in our blog,   
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Monday, November 24, 2014

I am Thankful....Revisited!

November is a time for many of us to take a moment and give thanks.  And what better way than for me to once again share my words of gratefulness with you.....

This time of year, you may gather family and friends around you 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 many years, I have been feeling more successful than ever.  What is really special to me 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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Friday, October 24, 2014

Discover How Many States are Taking "Ban the Box" Too Far!

The Original premise of “Ban the Box” is being lost amidst a cloud of confusion.  

The movement set out to give applicants that had a prior criminal record a fair chance of gaining employment.

By simply removing the “box” asking whether the applicant had a criminal record from the application, it afforded them a chance during the interview of proving they could do the job.

While we were on board with what “ban the box” was initially trying to accomplish, and you can see this in our post on the subject, “What New Ban the Box Legislation Means to You”, it has morphed into something completely different.

We still believe in:
  •  the need to obtain a signed release from the applicant
  • the need to inform them of their right to know if any adverse action will be taken based on their background check
  • the need to give them the opportunity to explain or mitigate any of the findings.
And a good company should be willing to determine whether any criminal offenses really keep the applicant from performing the job safely.

This seems fair to all parties. 

Now many states and cities have muddied the waters. They have expanded the original intention and made it much harder for employers to comply or to have any control over who and how they hire.  

Even states like Illinois, that already had such legislation in place, have opted to increase its reach.

One example of the expanded scope of new “ban the box” legislation is in San Francisco.  In August, 2014, the “Fair Chance” ordinance was passed. The San Francisco law includes private companies of 20 or more employees, while many other states have limited their legislation to only include government employers.   “Fair Chance” even covers temp, seasonal, and part-time workers.

As in most cases, no screening for a criminal record can be made until a conditional offer of employment has been made. In San Francisco, however, employers are also never permitted to consider the following:
  • any arrests not leading to conviction (except for active or pending cases), any case where the subject entered into a deferral of judgment program
  • any conviction that has been expunged
  • any juvenile convictions or other adjudications in the juvenile court
  • any convictions older than 7 years from the date of sentencing
  • any offense other than felonies or misdemeanors
Under these limitations, even if a background check company discovers any of the types of cases listed, they cannot report them to the employer without opening up their client to possible litigation.

In addition, any employer within the San Francisco limits must alter all their job postings. These now must include a statement that they will consider all qualified applicants, despite a prior criminal history.  They also must place notices in any of their locations advising applicants of the “Fair Chance” Ordinance (in English, Spanish, Chinese, and any other language spoken by at least 5% of the area’s population).
Washington, D.C. can also be added to the growing list of  expanded “ban the box” proponents. Once again, obtaining a background check is not outright prohibited, but there are multiple restrictions in play.

As in San Francisco, there are limitations to what records an employer can consider in making their hiring decisions. Those include convictions only, although an employer can ask about a pending charge discovered during their investigation.  

It is also necessary that any withdrawal of a job offer must be based solely on records directly relating to the job duties of the position in question and take into consideration the time since the offense, the age of the subject when the crime occurred, the frequency and seriousness of the offense, and any mitigating circumstances supplied by the applicant.

Many of these requirements are above and beyond those in other “ban the box” legislation. It is more about telling companies "How to Hire" than ever.

And the “Ban the Box” movement continues to grow and expand its reach.

For now, the majority of ban-the-box laws apply only to public employers, but, as can be seen in San Francisco, it is beginning to impact private companies as well, with Illinois and New Jersey soon to join the pack.  

Hawaii, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts already have such laws in place. Advocates of “ban the box” see this as a logical step forward.

In fact, larger private companies such as Target and Walmart have taken a proactive approach. They have already set policies into place that comply with some of the more stringent “ban the box” inclusions.  

And while many “ban the box” policies exclude small companies with 10 or fewer employees, some states are even eliminating that.  

Critics of “ban the box” see the current trend as excessive intrusion on a company’s hiring decisions. Giving extra protection to those with criminal records subjects employers to complicated hiring procedures and to possible litigation for making unsafe hires.

Making any decisions, even the decision to interview, will now be made without having all the facts. And limiting what kinds of criminal offenses can be considered creates risk.

Opponents to the current and, most likely, future reach of “ban the box” believe having that information early in the process allows employers to make a much more informed decision.

They also believe these laws are a burden, especially to Small Business. The additional time and money it takes interviewing those who an employer later learns has a criminal record can be damaging.

This debate will not end any time soon. As more and more states are enacting or expanding their own “ban the box” laws, both sides will continue to disagree.  

A happy medium that is fair to both employers and applicants seems a long time away.

The key for all employers is to know the laws concerning hiring and background checks for any area in which you do business as they may vary. Your background check company will keep you informed of any changes and help you stay compliant.

Then Document, Document, Document. Make sure that all your compliance efforts are recorded and saved. This includes a subject’s application/resume, interview notes, notice of conditional offer of employment, background check reports, adverse action notices, etc.

It is still important, and highly recommended, to use Background Checks as part of your hiring practices.  The alternative can be costly to both you and your company.  Just be sure to Follow the Rules!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Top 10 Obstacles that can Delay Your Background Check

Do You know what kinds of Obstacles can Delay your Employment Background Checks?

In most cases, when You order a Background Check either on yourself or on a potential employee, they are completed within 2-3 days. And, depending on what you need verified, it can even take as little as 24 hours.

However, there are times when circumstances beyond a Background Check company’s control can delay the process.  
These issues can range from incomplete court records to not getting the responses needed in a timely manner. 

No matter what the case, it can be frustrating for both you and your background check company.  

You are concerned with getting the background check information quickly in order to make the hire you need. Your background check company understands this. After all, their focus is on providing you with the best and most timely response. 

And since outside factors can delay the process, it is best that you are aware of what they are and what can be done, if anything, to get your check back on track.
The 10 Obstacles that can Delay Your Background Checks: 

1. Resume/Application Mistakes, Errors, & Fabrications
When a screening company is given error filled applications or resumes, weeding through them can be time consuming. In addition, hand written forms are often hard to read or do not come in clear when emailed or faxed.

Solution: If the background check is on yourself, make sure your resume is “background check ready” (You will find tips to accomplish this here).  

If it is on a potential employee, stress to the applicant beforehand that any errors on their application can cause a delay in completing their background check ~ resulting in stalling any hiring decisions. This might prompt them to make any necessary changes or write more clearly before submitting.

2. Timing of Your Request
Sending your work request to a background check company late in the day, or right before a weekend or holiday, can most certainly add to the turnaround time. Sources will often be hard to reach when things are winding down for the day or before a holiday.

Solution: Requests sent earlier in the day or mid-week (Tuesdays through Thursday) are best. If that is not possible, you should expect a slightly longer timeframe for responses, especially where verifications from employers or references are concerned.

3. Manual Court Checks
Any time you need to verify court records in person, this takes additional time, and a lengthy list of cases can add to the process. However, it is sometimes a step that is necessary in order to get the most accurate results

Solution: There really is no substitute for manual checks in courts that have no databases (or those whose databases are not up to date). Your background check company will most assuredly advise you of the delay, but this is one time that you simply have to wait it out.  

4. Individual Court Dynamics 
Some courts are understaffed. Some have less than stringent records keeping and processing. Others have no online database. Either way, any of these issues can cause delays

Solution: Once again, this is out of anyone’s, even your background check company's, control. Despite the push for courts to be more diligent about updating records and databases, the reality is that a lack of funds for new hires make this a difficult task.

5. Employment and Reference Checks 
Verifications of past employments and references can be problematic. While many companies use online databases to verify dates and title of employment, speaking directly to a past supervisor is preferred. In addition, there is no substitute for getting the information you need from references. Therefore, you or a screening company is at their mercy.

Solution: Make it as easy as possible for any employer or reference to provide the information you need. When contacting them, whether by phone or email, leave a detailed message as to the subject’s name, what information you are seeking, a timeframe when you will need their response, and a good contact name and number. In this way the source can prepare and will recognize the necessity of a timely response. We have had much success with this method.

6. Incomplete Case Information 
There are times when final dispositions are not listed. Perhaps the information has not been logged into the record, the case is active, or it is on hold. Any of these problems can result in extra time for a verifier.

Solution: Additional research is necessary. Since your goal is to have the most accurate information, there is no way around this. Your researcher will need to make inquiries to see if there has been any recent activity on the case. Checking lower courts, probation records, etc. may be required.  

7. Power Outages or System Maintenance 
There are times when online records are unavailable. There may be a power outage or system maintenance. Both can effect the timeliness of your background check.

Solution: You have no choice but to wait it out. Weather related outages cannot be predicted and their return cannot be hurried. Luckily most system maintenance is done during off times and causes minimal delays.

8. International Requests
Needing information from another country can pose its own unique set of delays and concerns. Language barriers, lack of computer records, and differing legal systems, all can cause delays. Even inequities in job titles and degree certification can be problematic.

The availability of Criminal and civil court information is also subject to a country’s laws and regulations. Some countries only maintain paper records at the local jurisdictions or police departments. Others may have databases, but their standards of accuracy can vary. And still other countries may not allow access to criminal records at all.

Solution: Contacting your country's embassy in the nation in question is a good first step. It will help you find out if the government has public criminal records or even permits them to be searched, solving part of your problem.  

For employment records, dealing with an international company helps. It is then possible to contact the branch in your country to verify, or at least obtain a good contact number, for the information you need.  

However, there are instances when it is either not possible or too expensive to verify everything on an applicant’s resume. Having the subject provide their own proof may be necessary in these circumstances, but even those records can be suspect.

9. Government Shutdowns 
A government shutdown at any level can effect your background check. This shutdown is most often a result of court holidays (short term), but can also stem from the inability to agree on a budget (which can be for a longer amount of time). At a federal level, this can cause problems when needing to verify citizenship and social security checks.

Solution: Government holidays really are short term and should be no cause for concern. However, longer term shutdowns are definitely problematic. No one can predict when these records will once again become available if the lack of manpower funds stops work. The only thing you can do is verify the information you can, and wait on the rest. There will be court records available at various levels and verifications of employment and references will most likely not be effected.  

10. Changing Legislation 
Ongoing changes to EEOC guidance and state & local laws has definitely changed the timeframe of background checks. Many states require a conditional offer of employment first. There is also the need for a stand alone release, notices of adverse action, etc. that need to be followed. Compliance with these regulations is necessary to avoid litigation and must be part of all hiring practices.

Solution: Address compliance concerns early and stay updated on any passed and pending legislation. By doing this it is possible to put practices into place in advance and not cause you any additional screening delays. The key is for your background check company to keep you in the loop on what you need to do. 

You can find out more about Tips to Help Your Business Fly Under the EEOC Radar here.

While any of these factors can cause delays in completing your background check, a good screening company understands this and will keep you informed every step of the way.
Just Remember, when it comes to Background Checks, accurate and verified information is more important than speed in the long run.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Top Lessons You can Learn from Difficult Clients and Why Sometimes You Need to Let Go ~ Part 2

We have all encountered “difficult” clients.  
These clients are sometimes demanding, unreasonable, or even slow in paying.

In some cases we can take what we learn from the situation and use it to forge a better working relationship, possibly keeping our client in the process. Part 1 of this series focused on those lessons and how they can help you move forward. If you missed it you can read it here.

But in other cases, continuing to work with that client is simply not possible and even unwise.
How can you tell the difference?  

When is it time to break up with your 
difficult client and 
what can you do to make that break clean?

To make that decision, it helps to first ask yourself these 3 questions:
  • How Does Your Client Treat You?
If each time you communicate with your client they belittle you, your employees, or your work ~ then run. At no point do you or those around you deserve to be abused. Even if they are paying you, that is no excuse for unreasonable demands or a lack of respect.
  • Is Your Client Taking up All of Your Time and Energy at the Expense of Other Clients?
Any time one client is so demanding that you have nothing left to give, you are cheating your other clients. When you spend all your time answering their excessive phone calls or making countless changes, then you cannot give your other clients the time they deserve.
  • How Does the Client Make You Feel? 
This is the most important question of allIf you find yourself stressed at the the thought of working with them, then it is time to move on. If each time you even pick up the phone or sit down to send them an email, it makes your stomach churn, then let go.

If even after giving them your best work, you are left questioning your abilities, then moving on is simply self-preservation.  

So the question then do you make the break?
It is best to keep it simple and direct. There is no need to rehash problems or even to burn bridges.

Instead, first thank your client for the opportunity to work with them. Then simply say “however, at this time I am no longer able to provide you with our services”.  

Another option is, if your work with them is not on an ongoing basis, you can just wait until they contact you again and not opt to bid on the job. If asked why, just say that your workload does not allow you to take on another job.

In either case, no long, drawn out explanation is needed.   

Once you make the break, it is time for a change.  Now you can put new practices into place that will both lessen the chance of this happening again and help you move forward.

You Should:
  • Put Your Efforts into treating your Good Customers Right
Send them thank you notes to let them know you appreciate their business. Offer them special deals for their loyalty. Anything you can think of to show you value them.

For more tips on what you can do to make your clients feel appreciated, check out "What it Really Means to Have Good Customer Service"!
  • Keep Your Chin Up
It is important that you don’t let the bad customers ruin your morale. Nothing is worse than a depressed workplace, and you owe your customers and employees more than that.
  • Look for New Customers 
Join a local networking group or ramp up your social media, whatever helps you put your company in the spotlight and in front of potential customers. You will find that talking about your business and keeping your eye on the good you provide gives you a better mindset.
  • Invoice Quickly 
Practice “recency” in your invoicing. Studies show that by sending your bill quickly, your invoice is thought to be more relevant. Another plus is that your client still has the great job you did, and your stellar service, fresh in their minds.

Waiting days, or even weeks, to invoice is often increases the time it takes to get paid.  
  • Vet Potential Clients and Partners
By using a background check to vet those you are thinking of doing business with, you can make a more informed decision. You may uncover a tendency for slow pay, a propensity to sue former business partners, or a host of other things that could give you pause.

The idea here is to make sure there are no signs that should keep you from getting into a difficult business relationship in the first place!

Discover more about how vetting potential clients, and employees, is good for your business in "Why You Need to 'Trust but Verify'!". 

We all enter business with the thought that we have something great to offer. We also believe that our clients are a large part of what it takes to make our business successful and our goal then becomes to do what it takes to make them happy.
However, that does not mean that we need to stick with them no matter what. When that relationship becomes toxic, it is time to move on.

And, in every business, we need to do what it takes to build a business we can be proud of without hurting ourselves along the way ~ and sometimes that means Letting Go!

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