How one Norfolk firm is reducing the risk from the recruitment process
- Credit: Ian Burt
Picking the right people is often harder than it looks. Mark Nicholls reports on the importance of companies ensuring they know exactly who they are hiring.
Recruiting staff is a critical component of a company's growth and development.
It ensures firms expand and evolve and it is often new personnel who can help them meet fresh challenges and opportunities and move into additional markets.
Yet hiring the right people through a careful selection process can be a minefield and underlying it is the all-important question: 'do you know who you are hiring?'
While potential employees will outline their career history and qualifications on a CV and go into more detail at interview, it's not always easy to know whether what they say is actually true.
Sadly, not all applicants are as frank as they may be – some are 'economical with the truth' and others may lie or even hide something such as a criminal record from their new bosses.
This is where Gemma Wilson, who is Director of Watton-based New Hire Checks Ltd, can step in to offer expert support to a company by verifying the personnel it plans to hire.
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It conducts comprehensive pre-employment checks which include following up references, checking detail on CVs, qualifications, credit ratings, confirming an individual's identity, company directorships and criminal convictions.
'Many employers do not do these checks,' explained Miss Wilson. 'That is either because they do not have the resources in-house to do it or do not think it is necessary and take what is on an applicant's CV at face value.
'Unfortunately, it is common for people to hide the truth; they will amend dates of employment to cover gaps in employment history, create fake qualifications or even try to hide their true identity if they have got something in their life that they do not want to be discovered.'
Equally, potential candidates do occasionally undersell themselves and in one recent case a job applicant indicated they were in an admin role, whereas they actually had significant supervisory and management experience.
Gaps in employment may be genuine planned 'career breaks' but could also be for something more sinister such as a jail term.
'If someone has not been honest on their CV, it poses the question what else are they lying about,' added Miss Wilson, who also runs Disclosure Checks Ltd, which is a sister company to New Hire Checks Ltd and processes DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) criminal record checks online.
Companies wanting to verify applicants generally approach New Hire Checks when they are about to offer a prospective employee a job, subject to references, with checks tailored to the candidate's proposed role.
'If a potential employer has access to money or financial data, a financial check is important,' she said. 'It effectively looks at their credit status, whether they are on the electoral role, have been bankrupt or have CCJ against their name and whether there is potential for them to be vulnerable to temptation.'
However, just because someone has a low credit rating, it is not necessarily a negative and may simply be because they are young and have a short credit history.
Her team is trained to interpret the finer details of a financial check, which only leaves a 'light footprint' on a person's record and does not impact on their credit status.
All checks must be conducted with an individual's consent and once that is received, New Hire Checks asks previous employees specific questions such as the candidate's period of employment, position, whether there were any disciplinary issues, reasons for leaving, whether they would employ again, and their professionalism, integrity and conduct.
It will also request qualification details from universities and colleges and then process CRB checks online.
Miss Wilson said: 'The requests will go out within 24 hours of receiving the consent form and we expect results back within four working days from previous employers.
'Universities take 7-10 days, but on the whole such requests are treated in a timely and responsible manner by previous employers and colleges.'
If a candidate does not give consent, it lies with the employer to decide how to proceed.
Once the checks have been conducted, New Hire Checks sends a detailed report to the employer to help make the decision to hire or withdraw a job offer.
'By its very nature, it is an admin-heavy process and companies do not always have the resources in-house to do it,' said Miss Wilson. 'If companies do not do these checks, the employees may be fine, but there will be serious consequences if it goes wrong.
'Appointing the wrong person can affect their hard-earned reputation, but also impact on their existing workforce. If the new recruit is dishonest, has little integrity or a bad attitude that can have an adverse effect on the morale of the existing team.'
Cost of the service is dependent on how much detail a company requires, but there are trial packages available from New Hire Checks Ltd.
Miss Wilson said: 'Companies should invest in carrying out pre-employment checks to make sure they are taking on the right person.
'We believe New Hire Checks is a cost-effective and cost-efficient way for companies to carry out relevant and necessary checks on potential employees and ensure that they know exactly who they are hiring.
'We find it surprising that companies will spend thousands of pounds on advertising for a job and invest time in the recruitment process but are not prepared to spend a nominal fee on making sure that their preferred candidate is the right person for the job. If they get it wrong it can potentially have a devastating effect on a business and its existing workforce.
'We believe that checks on those being hired should be factored in as a routine part of a company's overall recruitment costs.'
Yet while searches by New Hire Checks Ltd may identify gaps in some candidates' CVs and references, on many occasions they do also serve to confirm that a company is hiring the right person for the job.