Background Checks Must Be Comprehensive to Be Fully Effective

By Michael Klazema on 2/6/2020

The resume is meant to be one of the cornerstones of the employment application process, a record of an individual's skills and qualifications that gives an employer a first look at someone's suitability. How can an employer be sure that the information on a resume is accurate? Honesty may be the best policy, but in a competitive job market in which applications and interviews often have high stakes, resume falsehoods are pervasive. 

For some applicants, dishonesty appears as a fib about their proficiency with office productivity software. For others, the drive to obtain a prestigious or well-paying position can lead to much larger falsehoods concerning critical areas such as education and employment history. The result: if a business does not carefully screen for these occurrences, they could allow an unqualified person into a prominent position. 

These concerns don't only affect the private sector. In 2019, a senior official in the State Department was ousted after a news report revealed that her resume was littered with falsehoods. Among them were a fake cover appearance on Time magazine and misrepresenting her educational background, stating that she was a Harvard alumna when she had only attended a short course at the school. The woman served in her senior role for almost seven months before State Department officials uncovered the lies as part of vetting her for a different senior position.

The incident raises several questions and highlights the importance of using a comprehensive background check. It is not enough to examine an individual's criminal history to determine their suitability, though that is an essential step. 

Augmenting the results of a federal background check with services such as the verification of an individual's educational credentials from can help to highlight important facts. Incorporating these steps into a comprehensive process saves time while enhancing an employer’s confidence in applicant capabilities. 

When everything on a resume is above board, employers can move forward with greater peace of mind; when discrepancies arise, they can choose to probe into them or simply move on to the next candidate. Vetting and verifying the information that applicants supply about themselves can yield valuable insights if these efforts fall within the legal boundaries of the FCRA

The alternative is risk allowing an unqualified individual to slip through the cracks. Though the State Department official did not face allegations of wrongdoing in her official duties, the potential for such hazards to occur could represent too much risk for businesses. 

The solution is simple: adopt a more comprehensive policy that looks at the whole applicant, not one aspect of their character. With the right tools from, you can begin to take these steps today.

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