As the 118th Congress was gaveled into session with its newly sworn-in members, a big lesson in the importance of good vetting continued to play out on a national stage. A newly-elected New York representative, George Santos, was found to have lied extensively about his credentials during the campaign. This included lies about his personal background, heritage, employment, and educational history. There is even some evidence that Rep. Santos was not fully truthful in his financial disclosures.
Rep. Santos claimed that he had graduated with a degree from Baruch College—he did not. In fact, he never completed college. He further claimed that he’d worked for the prestigious firms of Citibank and Goldman Sachs when the truth was that neither organization ever directly employed him. Santos faces calls to resign from both sides of the aisle amid allegations that he misled voters about his capabilities and skills—so what can regular employers learn about this significant misstep?
Conducting a background check with employment history included alongside other verification checks is an important part of the hiring process. However, many employers may only look as far as the criminal history report. This is a potential error that could expose you to future risks. Uncovering lies in how applicants represent themselves is a concern because of the ethical implications: can you fully trust someone who would deceive you into gaining a job?
More importantly, though, there are important reasons to conduct different types of verification, from an employment history search to license verification. Why? Let's consider the primary types:
Verifying an applicant's employment history is essential to confirm that they have the hands-on experience they claim. Applicants may lie about their titles or duties or be dishonest about working for a company. If you're hiring for a specific project with special demands and choose an applicant with the ideal experience, that's what you should get—not someone scrambling to learn in the moment on the job.
Educational verification is important for a similar reason: you must be able to trust that someone comes equipped with the skills they say they've learned. A hospital would never hire a doctor who didn’t complete med school, so would any corporation want to fill a critical position with someone who has completed their formal training.
In that same vein, you should always verify the validity of an applicant's professional licenses when hiring for positions that require such credentials; failing to do so could create the conditions for future accusations of negligence in your hiring process. Other verifications include confirming an applicant's legal name/aliases to ensure proper record checks and contacting references to ensure they've provided real and reliable answers.
Without being thorough in verifying non-criminal information about an applicant, it's all too easy for potential bad actors to slip through the cracks. Make sure you have the right person for the job—and employees you can trust to be honest when it counts most.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments