Monday, November 30, 2015

Hiring & Background Checks ~ Your Top Questions Answered!

Hiring and Background Checks ~ Your Top Questions Answered
There is no doubt about it ~ Background Checks can be confusing. 
Understanding why you need to use them, what they entail, and who you should run them on can have your head in a spin.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  

Instead, you need to start to think of Background Checks as simply another business tool. And it is important to recognize that utilizing this tool is a sound way to elevate your hiring practices and benefit your small business.

At API we have challenged ourselves to help you begin that process.    

Announcing….. “Frequently Asked Questions & Resources”!  

Get Your FAQ about Hiring for Your Small Business Answered Here!  “Tweet This”

We have created a website Page dedicated to answering Your Questions about Hiring and Background Checks!  

Our goal its to eliminate the mystery and confusion about how using Background Checks can help your Small Business.

You Will Discover:
  • What Exactly IS a Background Check?
  • Why Do I Need them In My Small Business?
  • How to Pick the Right Background Check Company for You?
  • and much more …...
We will also include resources to help you stay compliant and protect Your Small Business.  

These will include topics like tips on creating compliant background check release forms and the steps you need to take to ensure your applicants know their rights when it comes to employment screening.

This page will continue to be a work in progress. As new questions or hiring guidelines arise, we will add them to the list.
Get Your Background Check Questions Answered Here! 
And if you have specific questions or concerns, we want to hear about them! You can Contact Us directly through our site or email us through the link provided.  

Not only will we respond to you directly, but we will include the question and answer on our page to help everyone who may have the same concern!

Creating this interactive resource page is the perfect way for us to help “Pay it Forward”. We hope to help both our clients and readers with their own Small Business Success!

Click on “Resources & Frequently Asked Questions” NOW to see what we have started.   

Help Spread the Word and Please Share this with other businesses you know!

Authored by   

Contact Us Now and API can help you with Your Hiring Needs!

Discover more About Us and our Hiring, Business Mentoring, and Security Consulting services too! Thanks, and we hope to hear from You! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Giving Thanks!

This is the time of year when many of us take the time to get together and to give thanks. 

We plan gatherings with family and friends ~ everything from traditional Thanksgiving dinners to quick lunches ~ all in the hopes of connecting and spending quality time.

But no matter what we choose, the season inevitably stirs within us feelings of appreciation and thankfulness for all we have and all that we accomplish each and ever day.

At this time we would like to extend that gratitude to you ~  our clients, readers, and Social Media friends.

We feel truly blessed having connected with each of you and we appreciate your constant support. It has truly renewed our commitment to you and to our business.
Being Thankful Drives Us to Pay it Forward in our Small Business!  "Tweet This"

Most of all, it has given us the drive we need to start and end each day with a clear focus and a sense of purpose. For this we truly Give Thanks! 
Giving Back & Paying it Forward 
We know that many of you are pursuing your own success. You may even be small business owners yourselves. We are truly thankful for your encouragement as we pursue our own goals, and we are hopeful that you have felt the same encouragement from us. 

To this end, a large part of our gratitude has evolved into "Paying it Forward" in any way we can.  
At API, we actively use Social Media in support of others. We share blog articles and posts from other Small Businesses and, most importantly, We Shop Small ourselves! 

You can find out more about how we use our Small Business to Pay it Forward HERE! 

It is also been extremely gratifying to feel the camaraderie and support you each have shared. We can honestly say that we feel lucky and privileged. You are all wonderful and amazing people. 

Express Gratitude in Your Small Business
Our goal is to strive to live by these words from John F. Kennedy and put our gratitude and appreciation into action throughout the year.  You all deserve nothing less.  
If you would like to help spread our words of gratitude...Please Pay it Forward and Share this article! Thanks!

Authored by   

Discover how API can help you succeed in your Small Business. Contact Us Now
Contact Us Now to Get Started!
Also Check out our About Us, Background Investigation, Business Mentoring, and Security Consulting pages to find out more! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Re-Screening Existing Employees? The Pros and Cons for Your Small Business

Not Re-screening Your Employees can Hurt Your Business!

As an employer, you understand the benefits of background checks. You recognize that having all the facts before deciding who to hire makes good business sense.  

And we have shared numerous articles detailing why, when, and how to do it right. You can find them here!   

The following are two of our favorites:
4 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need to Do Background Checks and Why Not doing Background Checks is a Big Mistake .

However, for many,  the concept of re-screening existing employees is much harder to understand.

As a business owner, you may believe that since you checked into your employees history once, there is no need to check again. Or you may think that re-screening them shows a lack of trust.

While we understand the confusion, there are legitimate reasons why doing post-hire screenings make sense.

 Relying solely on your initial employment background checks to mitigate risk can give you a false sense of security.  

While your employees may have been hired with a clean record, this may not always continue to be the case. Or you may have hired someone knowing they had a criminal past, but be unaware that they have since re-offended.

Discover more about the reasons to Re-Screen Your Employees here!

Either way, doing background checks on current employees is an effective way of discovering whether there is new information you need to know to keep your company safe.

Existing Employees can Pose a Threat to Your Small Business “Tweet This”

Existing employees actually pose their own set of risks. They already have access to your company information and assets. They also have contact with your other employees and even your clients. Day in and day out they are acting as the face and voice of your company.

But as with anything, there are Pros and Cons to re-screeningIt is important that you understand both before making the decision to use post-hire checks in your small business.

The “Pros” of Re-Screening:
  • To Make Sure your Current Employees have not been Convicted of a Crime since They were Hired
  • To Discover New Potential Threats to Your Company’s Safety 
  • To Determine Whether it is in your company's best interest to Retain Your Current Employees
  • To Determine Whether to Promote Your Current Employees ~ especially important if their new position has increased responsibilities and access to company information/assets
For these reasons it is important to ensure that nothing has changed since your employee’s first background check. You can find out more about the “Why” and “When” of re-screening here

Despite the advantages of Re-screening, many believe that the jury is still out as to whether it should be part of your employment policy.

Questions concerning the costs involved, the potential of raising the ire of the EEOC, and most importantly, the effect re-screening could have on company morale, need to be considered.

The "Cons" of Re-Screening
  • Time and Money 
Most re-screening involves checking for any possible new criminal records. The most accurate searches are done directly through the courts ~ and this involves paying any court search fees and, most likely, the fees of a background check company.  

Additional time is also spent in verifying the information found, along with following all guidelines including obtaining a signed release for the re-screen and all individual assessment practices.

Find out more in “Individual Assessments ~ What They Are and Why You Need to Use them in Your Small Business”!
  • EEOC, State, & Federal Questions
As with anything concerning employment background checks, it is important to keep in mind the EEOC, state, and federal guidelines governing these checks.

You still need to obtain the required signed releases from your employees permitting the check. You also need to follow all steps outlined in your own hiring policies concerning notice of rights, the individual assessments I discussed previously, and the question of “business necessity”.

You also need to be careful to follow a well documented policy describing how you will deal with any new criminal record discovered during the re-screening.  

Find more details on what you can do to keep compliant with EEOC and state/federal guidelines in “Tips to Help Your Business Fly Under the EEOC Radar”.

What you need to know is that despite guidelines on re-screening, the EEOC does permit background checks on existing employees

The key factor is to keep firmly in mind your “business necessity” for doing so.

The EEOC defines “Business Necessity” and any type of employment screening (pre and post hire) as the link between “specific criminal conduct, and its dangers, with the risks inherent in the duties of a particular position.” *Source1

This means that, as the employer, you need to show that your policy to re-screen is directly related to the job the employee is filling and the safety of your company.

Once again, this means you need to consider the Nature of the Job (specifically the duties required to fulfill the job) and why certain criminal conduct would hinder successful performance of those job duties.

Take a look at this case……
The EEOC brought suit agains BMW over its re-screening of existing employees. The issue centered around BMW asking “some of its existing workers — who seemed to be working out just fine — to submit to the same criminal background screening that new hires were being subjected to”.  *Source2

As a result, 100 existing workers were denied re-employment, despite having worked with the company without incident in the past.  
The EEOC claimed that these actions had a “disparate impact” on minority workers and challenged BMW in court.

The court ruled in favor of the EEOC, in the amount of $1.6 million. The ruling was mainly based on 2 factors ~ none of the employees denied re-employment had exhibited any problems in the past and BMW did not show any “business necessity” in refusing to re-hire them.

Being careful to have valid business reasons for re-screening is crucial to not running into a possible lawsuit.
  • Company Morale
As a small business owner, you have the right to be concerned that re-screening may create an atmosphere of distrust in your workplace

You may be worried that it sends a message of distrust between you and your employees. You may even question whether being re-screened before being considered for promotions creates additional stress on your valued employees.  

While these are valid concerns, your best option is to develop and communicate a sound re-screening strategy that will address these issues while mitigating risk to your small business! In fact, it is in your best interest to develop this policy long before you ever need to use it!

What You Should Do
Develop Your Re-Screening Policy
    Be sure to address when and how any re-screenings will take place. You need to decide whether these re-checks will be regularly scheduled (for example every 2 years) or only in certain situations (for example, when an employee is up for promotion).

    You also need to outline the steps you will take to re-screen. These should include:
    • Obtaining a Signed Release Prior to the Background Check
    • Using a 3rd Party to Conduct the Background Check - both to save costs and to ensure you are compliant
    • Documenting How You will Handle any Negative Information Found During the Background Check
    • Informing Your Employee of their Rights concerning any Negative Information Found During the Background Check 
    • Outlining How any Information Obtained is Stored and Who has Access
    Communicate Your Re-Screening Policy
      The number one thing is to be Open and Honest about your Re-Screening Policy. Your employees will be much more likely to accept and understand the need to re-screen when you clearly communicate why you have made it part of your policy. 

      Anything you can do to put your employees at ease with the entire process should be done.

      Despite this, you still may encounter negativity concerning re-screening. Any time employees feel their honesty and integrity is being questioned, it can have an impact on the work environment.

      You must keep communications open between yourself, your manager, and your employees. Be willing to listen to their concerns.  

      But, most importantly, you need to be sure to explain that your main reason is the continued safety of not only your company but also your employees.  

      Be clear on exactly how the re-screen will be done and who will have access to the information obtained.

      This can go a long way in alleviating any fears and concerns your employees may have.

      Re-Screening your employees is a sound way to protect your reputation, your employees, and your business.

      It helps mitigate the risk of retaining an unsafe employee that has contact with your other employees, your clients, and may gain increased access to your company assets and sensitive information. 

      In the end, once you know the Pros and Cons of re-screening, it is then up to you to make an informed decision as to whether it makes sense 
      for your business ~ and a good background check company can help!

      Authored by   
      with your Pre and Post Employment Screening Questions! We will help you create a sound policy that addresses your unique needs and your bottom line!
      Contact Us Now for a Free Consultation 

      Discover More About Us and Our Services! We can provide Small Business Mentoring and Company Security Consulting too. 

      *Source1:Learn more about the EEOC’s stance on Employment Background Checks here!

      *Source2: $1.6M lesson: Think Twice about Re-Screening Current Workers

      Sunday, November 8, 2015

      What Really Happens when You Apply for a Job?

      Do You really know what happens when you apply for a job?

      While the steps taken when making a hiring decision may vary company to company, what remains constant is this ~ only one person will eventually be offered the job. 

      Congratulations if you are the one chosen, but if you are not, the question often becomes “Why”?

      That is when you start to second guess yourself.

      Did your resume just get tossed? Were your education or experience lacking? Did they even get your resume?

      And if you are fortunate enough to get as far as a phone interview, you still may not get any notice if the job was filled ~ let alone why you weren’t the one hired.

      There is no doubt that looking for a job can be demoralizing and confusingBut it shouldn’t be!
      Knowing before you ever apply what actually goes on during the hiring process can help.

      What Really Happens When You Apply for a Job?  “Tweet This”

      It all starts with your Resume!
        Before you even apply, it is important that your resume is memorable ~ and for all the right reasons.    

        Employers DO care about not only What is listed but How you list it. Things like poor spelling and grammar can be deal breakers.

        Other "red flags" include:
        • Missing or Inappropriate Contact Information ~ Have You listed a professional email address? A working contact phone number? Do You have Voicemail?
        • Dates of Employment are Inaccurate or Not Listed ~ Missing dates, or ones found to be untruthful, are questionable.
        • A “Revolving Door” List of Employments ~ This means staying at your job(s) less than a year. While one or two of these short term employments may not be a problem, a pattern of this is. 
        It is also important that you make sure 
        your resume is “Background Check Ready” before you ever submit it.  
        If it is found out later that you lied about anything listed, your chances of getting the job are unlikely. Find out what steps you should take to get your resume up to par here!

        Time to Apply!
          After your Resume is ready, the next step is applying for the job you want. Many times this starts with a cover letter.

          Make sure your cover letter gives clear cut examples of the skills/education you posses that match with the qualifications necessary for the job. Insert keywords directly from the job posting in your cover letter.

          This step is important because many recruiters and human resource personnel immediately weed out applications that do not meet these requirements.

          And if you are applying online, those keywords are even more important. While you will not have the luxury of a cover letter here, keywords can still be used throughout your application.

          Remember, your resume is more than just a list or “about you”.  Its focus should be on how you are can help solve the company’s problems and needs.  So make sure that resume clearly shows what you can do to help them.  

          Now Comes the Wait!
          This is probably the most frustrating and anxious time for many job seekers.  
          You can expect to wait anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after you apply ~ and sometimes even longer! In many cases, especially when an online application process is used, if you are not going to be offered an interview, you will not hear anything at all. 

          When you apply online, a “real person” may actually never see your application. The company’s system only passes on those resumes that fit their pre-determined parameters. This is why keywords can be so important.

          Even if you are able to apply with the more “old-fashioned” cover letter and resume, you still may not hear anything from the company. Good business would dictate that if the job has been filled or if you are not being considered, that you receive at least an email to let you know.

          But this is not always the case and, even worse, you have no control over it. Companies will say that they simply get too many resumes to let each applicant know if the job has been filled.  

          Unknowingly, this practice may be harming their brand. People talk. And a company that is willing to go the extra mile and notify all applicants will get noticed!

          Get Ready for the Interview!
          Many times this step can start with a phone interview or even more than one. Companies look at this as a way to narrow down the applicant pool and save money and time.  

          If they are still interested after this, then a face-to-face interview will be scheduled.  

          This can be a day long affair. You may meet with multiple people on the hiring team all in one day ~ human resources, hiring managers, etc.

          Other times your initial interview will simply be the first round and you will meet only with one person. However, it is that person that will determine whether you proceed to further interviews.  

          Be prepared to answer questions pertaining to your resume, skills, and problem solving abilities. Emphasize those that are essential to the job you are seeking.  

          Have clear cut examples ready of actions you have taken that directly relate to the position. Share the results of those actions and what you have learned from them. Be sure to present yourself as the solution to their needs.

          You Get a “Conditional” Job Offer!
            After the interview phase, employers will decide which candidates will move on to the next step ~ the Conditional Offer of Employment. This means that you are offered the job pursuant to successful completion of the Employment Background Check.

            Depending on the position, companies may screen for criminal history, verification of education and employments, and even driving records.

            They are also looking for confirmation that what you listed in your resume is truthful.

            The mere idea of a background check can put many applicants in panic mode!

            What you need to remember here is that if you have gotten this far, the company WANTS to hire you! They are simply looking for confirmation that they have made the right choice.

            Read more in “Surprise!  Doing a Background Check Means They Want to Hire You!”.

            Once Again, The Waiting Game!
              Even if all seems to go well, the hiring process can still drag on.

              This does not automatically mean that the company discovered something about you and is trying to find a way to let you down easily! Instead, the delay is most likely caused by something completely beyond anyone's control.

              Likely Causes for Hiring Delays:

              The Background Check
              While usually the screening process runs smoothly, there are things that cause delays. This most commonly occurs when trying to verify education and employments. Often times the source is either unavailable or not responding in a timely manner.

              Find out more in “The Life of a Background Check”!

              The Company’s Own Hiring Process
              Many times there is simply nothing that can be done to speed up the hiring process ~ as much as you would like it to be otherwise!  

              So, even if they are completely sold on you, their own company policy dictates the steps they need to take. This could include a minimum number of candidates that must be interviewed for each position. It could even mean that there must be a certain number of decision makers that sign off on hiring you.      

              No matter what the case may be, you have no choice but to be patient.

              If after a week or two you haven’t heard anything, you can reach out to your contact person and check on the progress. Anytime you can let them know you want the job, it is a good thing!

              And even if you are not offered the job, it is important that you don’t take it personally. While this will certainly be difficult to do, it is the only way you can save your sanity through your job search. 

              All you can really do is keep going in your quest to find the job that is right for you!  
              Good Luck!

              Authored by   

              API can help You Get Your Resume “Background Check Ready” and even find out what is “out there” about you so you are not surprised!

              Contact API to Help You Land the Job!

              Sign Up on our Website to get new articles focused on Hiring and Small Business delivered right to your inbox! You will also find out more About Us and our Hiring, Business Mentoring, and 
              Security Consulting services too.  

              Sunday, November 1, 2015

              Tips to Help You and Your Small Business Get Ready for the Holidays

              Is your Small Business ready to handle the Holiday rush?  
              Or is your business one of those that experiences a holiday “slow down” instead?

              Either way, there are steps you can take to prepare or weather whatever the holiday season brings!

              Planning ahead as much as possible is key.  

              For example, if you are a product based small business, having enough inventory on hand to meet customer demand is important.  
              And if you are a service business, knowing you have the time and manpower to fulfill all your client’s needs makes sense.

              In order to compete with “big business”, it is especially savvy for small businesses to have all their ducks in a row when it comes to their holiday promotions.  

              Here you will find out both what you can do to plan for the holiday “rush” and what to do if this is your “slow” time!

              What You Should Do to Get Your Small Business “Holiday Ready”  Tweet This!

              Planning for the Holiday Rush

              • Plan Your Holiday Strategy
              For many Small Businesses, the holiday season is the perfect time to reach new customers, strengthen the bond with existing customers, and increase sales. 

              However, you need to keep in mind that planning is necessary so that your business can handle the increased demands.  

              According to Troy Constance, Suncorp Bank; "It is critical that small business owners remain in control of their cash flow and manage staffing, resourcing, budgeting, and stock availability to provide not only a great experience for their customers but a profitable time for their business."*1

              Suncorp also lists 5 holiday preparation tips.  My favorite is the need to have “Festive Funds”.  This means managing your finances in order to cover the increased stock or supplies you need over the holidays.  Certainly makes sense!

              Read Suncorp’s additional tips through the link below!* (Source 1)

              • Hiring Seasonal Workers?  Start Early!
              If you are in need of additional help for the Holidays, your best bet is to start early.  Being proactive will give you the best pool of potential employees to pick from.  

              It will also give you the time to screen and train them accordingly.  
              This is particularly important as you will be pulled in many different directions during this hectic time.  Knowing you have well trained and safe new employees is critical to your small business continuing to run smoothly.

              Find more tips here on “Making the Best Holiday Hires”! 

              • Get your Social Media Strategy Ready Now!
              Even if the holidays find you busier than ever, you can’t neglect your social media presence.  You need to continue to post regularly.  That includes your own blog articles along with sharing the relevant posts of others.

              However, the holidays are also a great time to get creative.  Expand your holiday marketing to include some things you may not normally do.

              Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends shares 9 suggestions to get you started!  My favorites .... “Ask Interactive Questions” and “Invite Photo Sharing”.  Anytime I can do something to elevate my connection and strengthen my relationship with my readers, I AM IN! 

              And of course Herman’s tip to “Support a Charity” is completely in line with my own belief in “Paying it Forward” and trying to “Make a Difference”!

              Find more of her tips in “Is Your Social Media Strategy Ready for the Holidays?”. * Source 2 

              • Keep Your Employees Feeling Happy and Valued
              During the holiday rush, and the increased demands of running your Small Business, it is often easy to overlook those that are working hard to make your company a success.

              We may forget to recognize how essential our employees are in creating a productive and positive workplace.  And while this should be an on-going effort on your part, a little special notice over the holidays make sense.

              It could be something small like a written note expressing your thanks (no emails here) or even a quick “thank you” to an individual or your whole team.  You might also consider providing a work day meal or snack to help your employees recharge.

              Gifts like bonuses or gift cards are also great ideas.  

              For something with more substance, nothing speaks louder than paid time off.  If at all possible, doing this during the holiday season is a great way to reward your employees with more time to spend with family and friends.  However, if this is not possible, then the promise of a break as soon as the season ends is best. 

              Remember, gestures of thanks can have a great impact ~ and are perfectly inline with spreading holiday good will!

              • Keep You and Your Employees Healthy and Rested
              Stress can play havoc on your and your employees’ health and sanity.  It can make you less able to focus, more susceptible to colds and headaches, and even impact your family and social life.  

              And if your company is one that is in “commando mode” over the holidays, than this is even more true! 

              The best way to avoid complete melt down is to Step Back.  

              Many times the importance of downtime is either ignored, misunderstood, or thought to be impossible.  Instead, we all need this time to give our minds and bodies the rest it needs.

              How can you achieve this when your small business is crazy busy?  

              My favorite tip is to Incorporate Breaks into Your Work Schedule.  Make it mandatory that you and your employees step away and take a break.  A quick walk outside, a moment to close your eyes and sit back, and even an opportunity to get up and stretch can help.

              In the end, allowing you and your employees the chance to Step Back can make you all more productive and save your sanity!

              Find out more on how to feel less stress and stay healthier Here!

              What if you are one of those businesses where the holidays means less work, not more?

              My business is usually in a wind down mode when it comes to the holiday season.  Many of my clients are not actively hiring and the need for my services lessens.

              And while I don’t stop work completely, there is a definite reduction in the time I need to spend on daily tasks.

              This works out perfectly for me as the holidays are my absolute favorite time of the year!  I truly begin celebrating mid November, and and happy to continue well into January.

              I am unabashedly all-in when it comes to decorating, parties, and good food.

              So what can you do if your Small Business experiences the same lessened work load?

              Plan for Holiday “Down Time”
              • Pre-Plan as Much as Possible
              To support my “holiday habit”, I pre-plan as much as possible (much like I do when taking a vacation).

              For example, I complete and invoice for any outstanding projects.  I pre-schedule all my blog articles and social media posts (a tip that is essential whether the holidays are busy or your business experiences a down time). I also pay any bills that will be due during my break.

              While doing all this pre-planning and scheduling initially adds to my work, it is completely worth it to me to be able to enjoy the holidays.

              Discover more tips to help You take a break from Your Small Business Here!

              • Focus on Client Appreciation
              Handwritten cards, including a note of thanks (much like you should do for your employees) is a good start.  If you are in the habit of also sending gifts, then be sure to order early!

              Offering year end discounts to your best clients is also a possibility (especially if your fees are going up next year).  

              You may even consider inviting your local clients to lunch. Getting the chance to see them face to face is always a great idea.

              No matter what you choose, your clients need to know that you value them and their business!
              • Wrap Up this Year & Take a Look Forward to the Next 
              To end this year on a good note, taking a look at your finances makes sense.  Start with consulting your tax preparer or financial adviser.  Be sure you are up to date with all pertinent information.  

              You can also organize receipts and start your year end totals. This will give you a jump start on tax season.

              If you have time, you can also begin to look forward to next year.  

              This does NOT mean making business New Year resolutions!  

              I believe in celebrating the holidays.  I find myself too wrapped up in planning and enjoying them to really set business goals. (You can find out why and what I do instead here!).

              Instead, take some quiet time to celebrate your business.  Focus on what you did right.  Congratulate yourself and be satisfied that you worked hard this year.    

              Hold off on looking at any mistakes you have made (and we have all made a few) until another time.  This helps you end the year on a positive note!  

              The holidays can be exciting, but they can also be busy and, sometimes, even frustrating.  These tips can help you not only enjoy them, but come out of them a little less stressed and tired!

              Getting Your Small Business ready for the holidays starts now!

              What are You waiting for?  

              Please Pay it Forward and Share this article with other Small Business owners!  Thanks!

              Authored by   

               Subscribe to our Blog Now for tips & information to help your Business Succeed!

              Contact Us and discover more About Us & our Hiring, Security Consulting, and Business Mentoring Services. Let us help You Hire the Best Employees for Your Business!

              Source 1:  News Mail ~ 
              Signs are Right for a Busy Christmas

              Source 2:  Jenn Herman, Jenn's Trends ~
              Is Your Social Media Strategy Ready for the Holidays?