5 Reasons IT Managers Should Conduct Background Checks
Finding and hiring the best employees is likely one of the most important aspects of running a business. But before putting that offer on the table you might want find out just a little bit more about the person you’re about to hire.
Erik Larson is the founder of NextAdvisor.com, a website that compares various internet services, including background check services. Larson says background checks are especially important for IT departments.
Larson gives five reasons companies should do background checks on prospective IT workers.
At their most basic, background checks contain information that can be used to corroborate an employment history. While they generally don't list previous employers, they will list an address history. If someone claims to have worked at Microsoft headquarters but they've never lived near Redmond, Wash., it might be a good idea to verify the information. They could be inflating their resume.
Background checks can provide information on financial malfeasance or irresponsibility. Again, employers have to be careful how they use this information to avoid job discrimination, but anything from numerous liens or bankruptcies to a prior conviction for larceny or fraud could be clues that someone may not be the best person to deal with the type of sensitive company or customer information that IT workers may have access to. The last thing any company wants is a breach of its customers' data. If the breach comes from the inside, it's that much worse.
Employers have a responsibility to create and maintain a safe work environment. The criminal record checks can return anything from a DUI to theft or something even more serious.
Employers need to safeguard the integrity of their IT systems, and a background check can uncover any past criminal charges that may affect an employee's suitability for the office. Keep in mind the standard of what is an acceptable history may vary depending on the employee's responsibility. For example, a company would probably want to demand a much cleaner record for someone that will have root access to their systems than someone who is going to be manning the help desk. Also keep in mind potential career paths, though, as that entry level worker may someday be given much greater access.
As an extension of the criminal background records discussed above, many background checks also cover the records of registered sex offenders. It's a bit of a no-brainer, but hiring a known sex offender can be a safety issue for employees as well as a liability issue for employers.
Larons warns IT managers, however, to be sure they understand the legal implications of conducting a background check.
“Managers should be sure to check the laws in their particular state to avoid potential legal action. Also, since many individuals can share the same name, city of residence, and even birth date, it's important for employers to be absolutely sure they have actionable information,” Larson said.
“We think it's a good idea for human resources to be involved in the background check process,” he said. “They are trained in employee privacy policies and have access to the full employment records. However, it's also important to recognize the limits of background checks.”