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.

Background Checks ~ What is a Company Really Looking for?  "Tweet This"

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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We are available to answer all your questions and would be happy to provide you with a consultation.

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