Half of background checks raise questions

Mar 23 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

The number of U.S employers carrying out background checks on new recruits has risen sharply in the past year, with nearly half of reference checks revealing inconsistencies between what candidates has claimed and the reality, new research has suggested.

The study by HR services provider ADP Employer Services found that 4,861,435 background checks were carried out last year, a 12 per cent increase on the year before.

Most worrying for employers, 49 per cent of the education, employment and credential verifications revealed a "data inconsistency" compared with what the applicant reported, it said.

"The consistent rise in the number of background checks performed year after year is evidence of the diligence employers are taking in the recruitment and hiring process," said Dean Suposs, general manager of ADP Screening and Selection Services.

Manufacturers were embracing pre-employment and background screening, and seeing benefits as a result.

"We've seen for manufacturing, in particular, pre-employment screening is conducted in an effort to reduce turnover and help the organisation remain productive," said Suposs.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 83 per cent of U.S manufacturers could not find enough skilled workers to remain productive, with more than 80 per cent reporting a "moderate or severe shortage" of machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, technicians and other workers.

This shortage, combined with extensive state and federal government regulations, high employee turnover, and increased competition from low-cost countries, was forcing manufacturers to focus more heavily on effectively managing the hiring process in order to ensure efficient, productive operations, said Suposs.

"Today's manufacturing market demands tight margins, product innovation, and fast production timelines," added Lisa Barton HR manager at manufacturer Hilex Poly Company, which has used ADP.

"In order to accomplish these objectives, employers need to make sure they're hiring honest and experienced employees who are invested in the success of the organisation," she said.

According to the ADP poll, eight out of 10 manufacturers performed background checks for all job positions within their organisation.

The most common screens included those for social security validation, address verification and felony criminal record checks.

Five per cent of the criminal background checks revealed a criminal record in the past seven years, it added.

Reference checks (including total completed education, employment and credential verifications), revealed a difference in information between what the applicant provided and what the source reported in 49 per cent of checks.

Six per cent of these differences were received with negative remarks in regard to the applicant, it added.

Among the completed driving record checks, 24 per cent had one or more violations or convictions and five per cent had four or more.

Forty-six per cent of the completed credit report checks showed a judgment or bankruptcy or had been reported to a collection agency and eight per cent of the workers' compensation checks revealed an existing claim.