Archive for October, 2012

New Password Protection Law in California

Friday, October 26th, 2012

employee screening, background checkLegislators around the country have been reacting to reports of employers requesting or requiring employees and/or applicants to provide access to their personal social media accounts. Maryland and Illinois both enacted “password protection” laws, followed by the California, where Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new bill into law.

California’s law generally prohibits employers from requesting employees and applicants to provide access to their personal social media accounts and content. However, it is not as broad as the Illinois law, which prohibits employers from demanding access in any manner to an employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on social media sites. Illinois employers may not ask for log-in information, look over employees’ shoulders to gain access to it, or request screen shots of social media posts.

Maryland employers may not directly request log-in credentials, but are allowed to access an employee’s social media account when the request is in conjunction with securities fraud investigations or improper use of trade secrets.

California’s law also prohibits employers from requiring employees to access their social media accounts in the employer’s presence (“shoulder-surfing”) or to provide log-in information. In addition, it prevents employers from requiring employees to share any social media content, such as the Facebook posts of co-workers.

However, California’s law permits employers to ask workers to divulge personal social media content if there is a reasonable belief that it would be relevant to investigations of employee misconduct or violations of laws and regulations.

Note that this part of the law does not apply to job applicants. In addition, California’s law states that employers may not discharge, discipline or retaliate against an employee or applicant if they refuse to comply with a request or demand for access to a personal social media account.

Expect more of these laws to be passed around the country in the near future.

When hiring new employees, be sure to conduct proper background screening. The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.

What Not To Ask a Job Candidate in an Interview

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

employeescreeningblog.com, employment screeningWhether you’re new to interviewing job candidates, or have been at it for years, we’ve got some news for you: the same old questions won’t do.

The purpose of the job interview is to find the person who can do the job you need to fill, fit in with your company’s culture and stay out of trouble. Not all questions will get you to that goal.

A few questions that employers should not ask:
“Tell me about yourself” – This question is just too general to result in the information you need to know to hire the right person.

“Would you like some coffee?” – Don’t distract yourself or the interviewee from the task at hand. If they say “yes” out of sense of politeness or obligation, you’ll then have to find out about cream and sugar, fetch a mug, make the coffee. Skip the beverage service and get to the interview.

“Do you have your references?” – Again, this detracts from the interview and puts the focus on former employers, friends of the family or semi-influential community members that the candidate might want you to know all about. Save this question for later in the process.

“Where to you want to be in five years?” – There are few good answers to this question. If the candidate answers with “in your chair,” or “president of the company,” is that really what you want to know? They can’t say that they’d like to stay for two years and then jump ship to their buddy’s startup. And if they say they’d love to be in the same job, in the same cubical, doing the same work, what does that say?

Of course, there are questions that can get you into big legal trouble, specifically those that lead to claims of discrimination. Employers are not allowed to ask family-related questions, such as asking a woman how many children she has, or about an applicant’s religion, national origin, marital status, race, disabilities, health or physical abilities, or age. Asking whether an applicant is a U.S. citizen is also illegal.

What Does Sustainability Mean Today?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

employee screening, employee credit checkPlenty of companies are touting their sustainable practices and accomplishments. But sustainability goes beyond switching to recycled paper and reducing waste. Employers may have heard that sustainability has taken on a broader definition that encompasses good human resource practices.

Sustaining employee relationships is a big part of a more holistic business view. Just ask any company manager who has applied for sustainability certifications: many of the questions will be related to HR. Certifying agencies want to know how employees are treated and paid, and how the company relates to the community at large.

HR departments are more engaged in building a company culture that embraces all forms of sustainability. Organizations are trying harder to build good community relationships by supporting worthwhile organizations and leading the way to improve daily life for everyone. They are improving their diversity, from the boardroom to the shipping room. They are focusing on the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profits.

Creating a sustainable culture can start with the little things: recycling and reusing are certainly an important foundation. From there, it’s important to take care of employees through fair pay and benefits, training and performance management, and by actively pursuing diversity and inclusion. Finally, going beyond the company’s walls to improve surrounding communities helps ensure a healthier place to live, work and do business in.

All of these steps contribute to the new definition of sustainability: a long-term view of how to do business fairly, rather than a close-up focus on sales and profits. And still, many companies report a positive return on their sustainability program investment, along with a rise in morale, efficiency and loyalty, and an improved public image and brand awareness.

Sounds like creating a sustainable culture can be an all-around winning strategy that benefits the company, its employees, the planet and the community.

Finding the Right Employee Takes Time

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

employee screening, background checksWhen it comes to adding the right people to your staff, there is no such thing as being too careful. But how do you know you chose well until you actually hire someone and they start working for you?

The interviewing and screening process is your chance to establish expectations, measure skills and abilities, and determine who is the best fit for the job and your company.

Screening starts with careful resume review. Be on the look out for:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Careful attention to grammar and punctuation
  • Large gaps in employment
  • Clear and concise statements

Even font and color choices can tell you a great deal about a candidate. Note also what is left out of a resume. What is he or she not saying? Are the skills and work experience you need mentioned in the list of qualifications, or not? If you need to measure skills through an assessment test, do so before going any further.

If you like what you see, a short screening call can tell you whether to continue to a face-to-face interview. Schedule the call ahead of time. Keep it to just a few minutes. Note whether or not the candidate is on time and prepared to speak with you. Ask candidates about their current positions, if they are currently employed, as well as why they are seeking a new job. Find out what they are looking for, and what sets them apart from others. Pay attention to the level of enthusiasm the person has, his or her ability to express what they do for their current employer, and whether they can sell themselves.

If you choose to continue in the interview process, it becomes more important that the candidate fits your company’s culture. Of course, that has to be well-defined first. But it’s hard to go wrong when you hire a person who is motivated, has a positive attitude, a great work ethic and ability to work well on a team.

Before you offer the position, be sure to run a pre-employment background check. Employee screening can limit your exposure to security breaches and safety issues, while protecting your company and staff from harm.

Finding the right employees leads to much greater productivity, less turnover and lower costs. It’s worth the investment of your time and effort.