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Mar 18 15

Brand, Culture and Recruiting

by Ken Lang

I attended a regional SHRM workshop last week conducted by a branding expert, Melanie Spring. Melanie’s company, Sisarina focuses on helping organizations to “Start Living Your Brand”.  It was entitled “Rock Your Humans!”  The crux of the workshop for me was it is very important for you to understand your brand and your culture and make them a driving force in your recruiting communications both visually and verbally.  There was a good bit of excitement in the workshop and each HR professional in attendance stood up at the end and discussed what they saw as their action items from the workshop.

There were several suggestions on what was termed Branded Recruiting:

  • Too often 80% of the recruiting process focuses on the duties and skills needed for the job and only 20% on the culture, making sure there is a good fit and getting the candidate excited about the company.  The argument was made that the focus should be 80% on Company and Culture reflected in clearly communicating:

    • What you are best at.
    • How your company stands out from the competition.
    • What your core values are.
    • What it is like to work in your organization.
    • Even what your physical space says about you.  Does it reflect your brand and your culture?
  • Rewrite the Job Postings to focus 80% on what the Company is about, what it is like to work there and what makes a successful team member and only 20% on tasks and skills.  Obviously, there are skill and experience requirements but we all know getting the wrong fit can be disastrous.
  • To get candidates excited, the suggestion was made to open the Job Posting with a question: For a sales position for example, “Do you want control over your own compensation?”  And, then end with an answer: “Our sales people determine their own compensation and there are never any caps on commissions. If you want control over your own compensation click now!”  Make the call to action exciting and eliminate the stock “Apply Now” button!
  • Minimize the application process as much as possible.  From working for 7 years in Talent Management technology, I have observed just how often many applications have grown in size over the years and are onerous to candidates.  Many companies have implemented a two-tiered approach with a short application to start and a more detailed application as the candidate progresses.
  • Spend more time translating the company and culture into the interview and selection process as well.

    All in all it was an excellent event.  Check out Sisarina at this link!      

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Mar 13 15

Need a Lift?

by Ryan Cowsert

This week Congressional Democrats sent the CEOs of Uber, Sidecar and Lyft a letter demanding the companies to conduct more comprehensive background checks on their drivers to better protect their customers.

Following the alleged string of sexual assaults by ride-share drivers in CA, MA and IL lawmakers do not believe these companies go far enough in the screening process to protect the customers who utilize these services. The representatives called on the companies to adopt either a fingerprint database search for both new and already existing drivers or perform a more thorough criminal records investigation.

Representatives from all three companies countered that their screening processes today are safer than any existing public transportation options and that is why customers are flocking to use their services. All three companies provide potential customers looking to utilize their service with photos of each driver, real-time ride tracking and rating systems to determine which driver they would like to utilize.

I find it interesting that companies are relying on a rating system for their customers to determine which driver they would select. This requires a negative experience from one passenger to be reported by said passenger versus a prevention approach through background screening.  Passengers typically utilizing the services of these companies believe they are making the responsible or safe decision to get home. Do user reviews accomplish this?

For more information regarding this topic or how we can assist you with your screening program, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or

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Mar 4 15

Reminder for Employers: New Jersey Ban the Box Legislation Now in Effect

by Business Development
ban the box

As a reminder for employers, New Jersey’s version of Ban the Box went into effect on March 1, 2015.  The Opportunity to Compete Act that was previously signed into law is now effective and imposes requirements upon employers that are intended to increase protections for job applicants who have a criminal record by removing obstacles to employment.  These types of laws seek to give individuals with a criminal history the best chance possible of attaining gainful employment. The idea is not necessarily to discourage a criminal background check, though, the groups pushing Ban the Box legislation take a pretty oppositional stance on background screening in general.  However, the perceived intention is to have a candidate progress through the hiring process strictly on their merit prior to the topic of one’s criminal past coming into play; which should occur later in the process. Under New Jersey’s Ban the Box legislation, employers may not make any inquiry to the applicant’s criminal history during the initial employment application process (orally or in writing) unless the information is communicated voluntarily.  Exceptions include: Positions in law enforcement, corrections, judiciary, homeland security or emergency management

  • Positions where a background check is required by law
  • Positions that preclude, by law, the employment of individuals with certain types of convictions
  • The position being filled is part of a company program designed to encourage the employment of persons with a criminal history.

Additionally, in most cases, employers may not post-employment advertisement that conveys that they will not consider candidates who have a prior arrest or conviction.  Exceptions include the above list of exceptions (many government/law enforcement checks, those for which a background check is required by law which would preclude employment of a person conviction of certain crimes and company programs designed to encourage the employment of persons with a criminal history). The law imposes penalties for violations of up to $1000 for an initial violation, $5000 for the second violation and $10,000 for subsequent violations. Ban the Box legislation has been adopted by many states, counties and municipalities across the nation.   Employers are urged to review their policies if an inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history is made on the application, particularly if located in an area where this practice may now be illegal. For more information about this or other areas in the US that have adopted similar legislation, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or

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Feb 25 15

Background Screening Provider Showcase

by Ryan Cowsert

Over the last week the National Football League hosted its annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN for incoming rookies looking to showcase their talents and give their final sales pitch before entering the NFL Draft.

Much like sports teams, companies often utilize the start of a New Year or season to evaluate vendors and different pieces of their organization to ensure they are effective and still providing value. Background screening obviously being one of the many tasks HR Professionals utilize on a daily basis we thought it was a great time to hold a tryout or combine, not only to showcase our talents but also to provide insight as to what companies are finding to be critical to their screening success.

  • Turnaround Time – At CredentialCheck our average turnaround time for a completed background check is roughly (48-72) business hours taking into account that many courts still require a court researcher to hand pull records versus utilizing an online system.
  •  Compliance – When examining your partners this should be one of the biggest focal points. Every day in the news we hear about lawsuits against major organizations for the way they handled a candidate’s background investigation or not performing adverse action steps appropriately.
  •  Services- Why am I running a social security trace? When talking about services, I feel it’s critical to understand why you’re running particular services over others and what advantages they provide. If you’re only searching the individuals’ current address for criminal records, are you really achieving due diligence?
  • Simplify your life- How many usernames and passwords do you have today for various systems? I’m guessing it’s more than one and when it comes to background screening this doesn’t always have to be the case. CredentialCheck partners with ATS platforms and HRIS platforms that empower our clients with the ability to submit their candidates background checks and drug screens from directly within their recruiting and onboarding systems. This eliminates the need for any duplicate data entry and also that additional password and username you can never remember.

If you have a partner that excels in these 4 categories, chances are you’re more than thrilled and aren’t looking for additional vendors. However there is the flipside to this, if you’re utilizing a vendor that just doesn’t make the cut, take a look around and choose to work with a company that excels in all of these categories and can help you build a great team.

For more on this topic or additional HR items, please feel free to contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or

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Feb 18 15

Frequently Asked Questions from Candidates on Background Checks

by Ken Lang

Being a member of National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) has many advantages for members like Credential Check.  The NAPBS can also be a great resource for Human Resource professionals and candidates as well.  As an example there is a great “Frequently Asked Questions” document for candidates (Consumers as referred to by the FCRA) available on the NAPBS website.  Here is a shortcut link to the document:

I thought today we would take a look at a couple of the questions and the answers from this document and I would encourage you to go out to the general site as well at

  1. How do Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA = Background Screening Companies) conduct background investigations?  When an employer or landlord (End-User) orders a Consumer Report on an individual, the employer/landlord is responsible for specifying to the CRA what components they would like included in the Consumer Report. Typical searches may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:  Social Security Number trace, criminal history, employment verification, education verification, driver’s record/license history, professional license, personal/professional reference, and credit history.  The CRA will compile the report through various means including contacting the information source directly as well as utilizing databases of information.
  2. What can I do if my background check is inaccurate?  Contact the CRA to initiate a dispute.  The CRA will conduct a reinvestigation to determine if your record is inaccurate, incomplete, etc.  A CRA typically goes directly to the information source to reinvestigate and must generally complete its reinvestigation within 30 days from receiving notice of the dispute.  If the CRA correctly reported information as it appears at the source, you may need to go to the original source (courthouse, school, etc.) to correct the inaccuracy before the CRA will be able to update its report.  It is imperative to correct your records at the source or future Consumer Reports will continue to report the inaccurate data.
  3. What can I do if I was denied employment because of a background check?  The first step you should take is to review the contents of the Consumer Report.  You should have received a copy of the report, a Summary of your Rights as prepared by the CFPB, and Pre-Adverse Action notification from your prospective employer or other End-User.  If you did not, immediately contact the prospective employer and request a copy of the report.  If any portion of the report is inaccurate or incomplete, you can dispute the findings by contacting the CRA that prepared the report and/or End User that requested the Consumer Report.  Generally a CRA has thirty days to reinvestigate any dispute…

If you are ever asked a question by a candidate that you are not sure of, the NAPBS Frequently Asked Questions for Consumers is a great way to get quick industry answers to questions.  For more questions on this topic, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or

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Feb 11 15

Employers Settling for Millions for Non-Compliant Background Screening Forms

by Business Development
lawsuit 1

We’ve previously reported violations of the FCRA and the resulting class action lawsuits that have now become a trend.  Big name companies are finding themselves in class action suits that allege Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations.  One common theme of recent lawsuits  alleging that companies have violated provisions of the FCRA by failing to provide a compliant disclosure and authorization process which mandates that a clear and conspicuous disclosure be made in a document consisting solely of that disclosure.

Recent suits have also alleged that companies are inserting a release of liability on the disclosure form which is another violation because the disclosure is then “muddied” with additional information beyond the sole intent of that form.

If your company has any type of authorization to conduct a background check on your application for employment, this is a violation of the law.  It must be a standalone document that solely fulfills the disclosure to the individual.  The FCRA seeks to ensure applicants understand by what they are granting permission for – to conduct a background check – and that they can understand their rights free from any other potentially confusing information.  Employers have a requirement under the law to make certain disclosures as well as to obtain consent for the background check.  The law is very clear as to requirements pertaining to the disclosure and authorization and recent lawsuits along this vein have certainly underscored that employers need to make sure they are in compliance.  Those who don’t are increasingly at risk of joining the numerous other companies that have class action lawsuits and pricey settlements.

Companies that have recently been the target of class actions that allege violations under this law with pending suits include Disney, Whole Foods and Michael’s.  There have also been a number of cases that have settled with amounts ranging from 3 million to nearly 7 million dollars.  In addition to the settlement amounts, the cost of litigation is expensive and plaintiff’s bar are actively seeking violators.

Credential Check provides compliant disclosure and authorization forms and can assist companies in determining if their process and forms are compliant.

For more information on this or any other background screening topic, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or

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Jan 27 15

Super Bowl Sunday – The Day After, Not So Super

by Ryan Cowsert

It’s the most dreaded sound in the month of February – an alarm clock buzzing the Monday after the Super Bowl. Weighed down by Pizza, Wings, and your choice adult beverage, Americans across the country are forced to pry themselves from their beds and into the office.

An estimated 111.3 million people will watch the Super Bowl or the advertisements this Sunday, thus making it the most watched television program of all-time year after year. There is no doubt about it, a majority of these fans would benefit from a day of rest! Last year fans gathered together and created a petition, however they fell short of the 100,000 digital signatures required to gain a response.

So while you’re sitting in your cubicle or office wondering why you aren’t at home watching the “Price is Right” marathon or highlights from Richard Sherman’s latest blow up on National TV , remember the ones that didn’t make it into the office and think of the reasons they must have given. Below I have ranked the top 5 excuses used by employees for calling in sick the day after the Super Bowl:

  • Stomach Bug – Whether it be one too many hot wings, or that spinach artichoke dip Bob brought to the party (wait a second, who’s Bob?) this is the most common excuse.
  • Spouse/child is Ill – Blame it on your significant other or kids; it’s not your fault you can’t make it in when he or she can’t get out of the bathroom.
  •  Car Won’t Start - Might be because you can’t find your keys or operate it safely, regardless this is a pretty common one.  Be careful with this one if you live near a co-worker, as the boss man might suggest so and so pick you up!
  • Thought we had the day off? – This could work for an hour or so, till they notice your cubicle is empty. Wouldn’t suggest this unless you’re a quick thinker for when that phone rings!
  • Someone Double Parked me- This is a decent excuse, however it screams I had a party last night and don’t know where my car is.

These excuses are comical and no doubt out of the millions of workers that will call off on Monday I’m sure a few will be used, but if I have to miss the Price is Right marathon or the comforts of my bed; so should you!

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Jan 21 15

Conjunction Junction What’s Your (Compliance) Function

by Ken Lang
school house

School House Rock was Awesome!  Click the link below for the original Conjunction Junction video, this was a fun educational approach that just worked!

Background screening compliance requires the usage of Conjunctions every day and organizations must carefully consider the following “ANDOR and BUT” conditions:


When reviewing a criminal record to make a hiring decision, answer all of the following:

  • What is the nature and gravity of the offense?


  • How does the offense directly relate to the specific responsibilities of the position?


  • How much time has elapsed since the offense or completion of the sentence?

Take these into consideration in making your final determination as per the EEOC’s Revised Guidance on the Use of Criminal Records in Hiring Decisions.


If you decide not to hire someone:

  • Send a compliant Pre-Adverse Action notification to the individual who will be affected adversely.   Let them know that you have discovered a finding that will potentially exclude them from hire for this specific position, so that they have an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the information and have an opportunity to challenge the finding.


  • A copy of the report and Summary of Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Next, send Adverse Action notification if there is no dispute received after a reasonable timeframe of at least 5 business days that a final decision has been made not to hire.
  • When you get a finding from an instant database search that would rule out a candidate use extreme caution!  Information empowers your organization to avoid potential risk to your customers, employees, vendors and your business…


  • You must first make sure that the information you are using is up to date and accurate as required by law.  Always verify the finding with the originating source of the information (often the County Court Record).  An instant database search does not meet the “Maximum Possible Accuracy” standard as outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and could put your company in hot water.

As you can see, it is not unusual to come across Conjunctions when trying to adhere to compliance in the screening of prospective and current employees AND it is critical to examine multiple facets of the law and whether they are strung together with “ANDOR and BUT” conditions.

To discuss School House Rock OR for more information pertaining to compliance or other aspects of background screening, please contact our offices at (888) 689.2000 or

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Jan 7 15

Does Nevada’s State Criminal Record Backlog Affect You?

by Business Development

The State of Nevada recently reported that there is a backlog in getting court disposition information added to existing Department of Public Safety arrest records – a backlog that won’t be cleared until 2018.  There are over 900,000 old records that are being reviewed and matched with arrests.

It appears that moving forward, all 78 state courts will be reporting existing disposition information to the state, but, it is not clear how long it will take new dispositions to be entered.  In fairness, this is not an unusual challenge for the states in their efforts to match arrest records with court dispositions since the arrest is an upstream event from the court process where the final determination in a case is made.

We often counsel our clients on the difference between the criminal state repository records and court searches.  Some wrongly assume they will get a more comprehensive search when they request state repository records, when in fact, in most states, they are likely narrowing their search scope to just arrests and those may lack disposition information such as this situation in Nevada.  In those cases, to determine the final outcome, a court search is necessary.  State records were historically used to enable law enforcement to view an individual’s rap sheet to ascertain the level of risk approaching a vehicle or person might pose based on an individual’s prior arrests, which is a much different use of this information from employers seeking to perform a comprehensive background check on current and prospective employees.  State criminal repositories are often the source used to do background checks for gun sales and other regulatory required employment background checks.  The information obtained through the court includes case filings from both arrests and events did not result in a formal arrest.  The court is also where the final disposition is determined, which makes it the most up to date and accurate version of the record.

The situation in Nevada is a perfect case in point that underscores the value of court searches and their critical importance to the background screening process.  Other criminal sources seek to supplement information after the fact with the court’s final say in each matter.

For more information on the various criminal records that are available and their differences, please contact our office at or (888) 689.2000.

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Dec 30 14

2014 The Year of Culture

by Ryan Cowsert

Over the past year I’m sure like me, many of you have attended webinars or events all focused on Culture. What is it? How do you define it? How do you create it? Why do some have it and some don’t? All great questions and it’s the big reason why culture has been named word of the year for 2014 by Merriam-Webster.

Merriam-Webster defines culture as the “beliefs, customs, arts etc. of a particular society, group, place or time.”  Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster explained it best during a recent interview with the Huffington Post when he referenced the book “How Google Works”, which includes a description of a software fix by a few engineers that made ads more relevant on the search engine:

“It wasn’t Google’s culture that turned those five engineers into problem-solving ninjas who changed the course of the company over the weekend; rather it was the culture that attracted the ninjas to the company in the first place.” I believe this is a great quote for many reasons, especially for HR professionals. As companies continue to grow, you need to realize that companies that are busting at the seams with great culture are attracting great talent.

Hopefully 2014 was a successful year for the organizations you represent and also personally. I feel that we can learn a lot from all the emphasis that has been placed on culture this past year and carry that into 2015.

Runner-up Words:

2. Nostalgia

3. Insidious

4. Legacy

5. Feminism

For more on Culture or to further discuss how Credential Check can assist with your screening program, please contact our office at 888-689-2000, or reach us by email at

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