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Presented to the Colorado Municipal League


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Title: Presented to the Colorado Municipal League

Chasing Zero Risk The Key to Successful
Background Investigations
  • Presented to the Colorado Municipal League
  • Denver, Colorado
  • December 5, 2008

Presented by Robert Burg
(No Transcript)
  • To err is human, and to be human is to make
  • Role of human factors in complex systems
  • Propensity to err can be mitigated by properly
    designed systems and safeguards

(No Transcript)
Our Goal is to Assist in Providing the Framework
for a Comprehensive Hiring Practice Based on Best
Its all about the right people
  • Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great
  • The old adage People are your most important
    asset turns out to be wrong. People are not your
    most important asset. The right people are.

So, Where Do You Start?
  • First Objective Have a strong pool of
    candidates from which to choose.

What Type of Background Check Needs to be Done?
Standard (non-POST) Background and Reference
Public Safety POST Background Checks
Protect Your Agency and Yourself
  • Employment Application
  • Release Form
  • Stick to Procedures
  • Be Consistent
  • Dont Bend to Pressure

Strong hiring techniques rely on a simple and
consistent approach
  • Train staff to begin the validation process
    immediately from the time the resume is
    received vs. when the backgrounds and reference
    calls take place.

We are asked all the time... Do People Lie?
Darn Right They Lie!!!
Use Interview Techniques and Reference Checks to
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Job Expectations
  • Overall Fit with the Position
  • These factors will ultimately predict future job

Agency Level of Review
  • Background Checks 79
  • Verifications (i.e. Credit
  • Checks, Education, DMV) 33
  • Source Spherion Corporation 2006

High Cost in Replacing Staff
  • Surveys have shown that organizations can assume
    it will take three times the workers salary
    should that employee need to be replaced.

Be Inquisitive
  • Ask the right questions
  • Follow the career history
  • Verify dates, sequence, and time gaps
  • Confirm credentials and education
  • Contact appropriate references
  • Verify past employment, titles etc.
  • Match the person to the position

  • Learn to Listen Allow the candidate to do lots
    of talking throughout the interview and reference

Also Important Ask This Question
  • Why are you considering this position?

Bottom-line Get inside the candidates head!!!
Ill stack the deck with my friends for
Do I tell them I was fired?
Lawsuit against employer
Recent DUI
Some Candidates are DOA
  • Know what is a stop dead in your tracks type
    of answer. We have heard them all.

Resume Padding
53 of human resource managers answering a
recent Society for Human Resource Management
(SHRM) poll said job seekers falsify past
salaries. -
Resume Padding
51 of job seekers admitted to embellishing or
padding their prior job responsibilities.
I can list among my experience and skills
leadership, extensive travel, logistical
organization, intimate understanding of firearms,
and a knowledge of security measures at numerous
banks. - Jesse James
Whats in a Job Title?
You have worked longer than any of the other
folks that were hired to water lawns.
Senior Irrigation Technician Specialist

Validate the Resume
  • Career Progression
  • Appropriate Title/Level
  • Review Lofty Accomplishments
  • Spot Unreasonable Claims

Confirm Current Employment
  • Ask! - Dont assume still employed
  • Listen for past tense vs. present
  • If in doubt.
  • Call office
  • Send discrete email
  • Check agency website
  • Search newspaper articles

Past Employment History
  • Confirm
  • Level of responsibility
  • Appropriate vs. Inflated Title
  • Organization Structure
  • (Where are they on the Food Chain?)
  • Staff Oversight
  • Budget Responsibility
  • Also verify through references

Understand 1. Size 2. Scope 3. Complexity
Reference List Whats Not on There Speaks
  • Who would you expect to see?
  • Overall appropriateness?
  • Why some were omitted?
  • Whats the connection?
  • How current is the list?
  • Whats fair game?

References 360 Degree Evaluation
Reference Questions
  • Know what you want to achieve
  • Explain job scope/complexities
  • Know who you are talking with
  • Verify relationship
  • Re-enforce confidentiality
  • Fact check Verify stats
  • Be careful of prepared scripts
  • Use open ended questions

Reference Questions (continued)
  • Listen, really listen, to the answers
  • Let the Reference expound on the candidate
  • Free Form discussion is very beneficial
  • Take special note of clues and the unspoken
  • Silence is golden
  • Obtain secondary references/referrals

Other Suggested Steps Include
  • Education verification
  • Do First (High Falsification Rate)
  • Accreditation or Matchbox Cover
  • Verify Credentials (PE, CPA)
  • Credit Check
  • Criminal Record
  • Civil litigation search
  • Wants/Warrants

Other Suggested Steps Include
  • Verify Compensation
  • Confirm Military Service
  • Sex Offender Registries
  • Internet Searches

Follow the Date Sequence
  • No dates at all
  • Years only with no months or dates
  • Time warp gaps in dates
  • Out of sequence

Look at this sample resume

Looks Good
But where are the dates of employment???
And He Was
the human resources director who stated he was
called to active duty with the Coast Guard but
really had a 10-year-gap in his resume because he
was in FEDERAL PRISON for bribery and extortion.
This public agency found this out after he had
already been on the job a year as a interim human
resources director. He was hired because he was
known to a key person in the agency so no
background or reference checks were done.
Remember Michelle Montoya?
  • In 1997 Grant UHSD in Rio Linda hired a Janitor
    before his fingerprint check was back from the
    California State DOJ.
  • He was a gang member on parole for manslaughter
    from Folsom prison.
  • The turnaround time on the fingerprint check took
    three weeks.
  • Exceptions bring risk.

Few Quits Washington Fire Chief Job
Heres a fiery mess
Washington Post, 5/30/02
  • In 2002, Fire Chief Ronnie Few resigns from the
    Washington D.C. fire department over allegations
    he lied on his resume regarding his degree. Other
    charges included he hired former colleagues to
    fill key positions for which they were not

Even Some Public Officials Lie
  • Nationline, Sacramento Bee, 10/10/07
  • Mayor Robert Levys (Atlantic City) accounts of
    his Vietnam War service are now under
    investigation. He was not a member of the Green
    Berets as claimed and his tales may have
    illegally contributed to his increased veteran
    benefit payments.

Another Example
  • Notre Dame Coach Resigns After
  • 5 Days and a Few Lies
  • The New York Times 12/15/01
  • University of Notre Dames newly hired head
    coach was released after only five days due to
    falsifying parts of his academic and athletic

Border Community Fires Interim City Manager Over
Resume Lies
2008 The Associated Press SAN ANTONIO The
Eagle Pass City Council fired its interim city
manager who admitted to lying on his resume. Glen
Starnes, 42, was initially defiant about his
resume "fluffing," and the council appeared ready
to back him and hire him permanently. But on
Tuesday, council members voted to fire him. "I
hope this ends it," Mayor Chad Foster said. "Our
challenge now is to restore confidence in the
city government." Starnes admitted he has a "very
shady past" but said he's been trying to
change. "I haven't been a good person. I've been
pretty much a liar and a cheater all my life. But
the high road is not the easy road," he said in
an interview with the San Antonio
Express-News. Foster said candidates to replace
Starnes will be thoroughly vetted by an outside
firm. "This has never happened before in Eagle
Pass. We're from a part of the country where you
kind of take a fella's word," he said. An
Express-News investigation found that Starnes
didn't work as an assistant city manager in the
San Antonio suburb of Converse or as an aide to
former U.S. Rep. Jack Fields of Houston as he had
claimed. Starnes also did not earn three degrees
from the University of Maryland East Shore
Rockville either, the newspaper found. No such
school exists. Starnes later said he got the
degrees from Rochville University, which sells
degrees online, promising "no studies, no
attendance, no waiting, and no examinations."
What Was Missed
  • A false Masters degree in education NYU
  • The coach was a student but did not
  • receive a degree
  • Falsely stating that he played varsity college
    football for three years at the University of New
  • The school denies he ever
  • played a game

  • RadioShack Chief Resigns After
  • Lying
  • The New York Times 2/21/06
  • Mr. Edmondson lied to the company about his
    education by claiming two college degrees when he
    had none.
  • Only several days after revealing himself to
    investors, Mr. Edmondson resigned from his
    position as CEO of Radio Shack.

Other Examples of Falsification
  • Veritas Software Corp. Chief Financial Officer
    Kenneth Lonchar resigns after the company learned
    he falsely claimed to have an MBA from Stanford
  • Bausch Lomb Inc. CEO Ronald Zarella falsely
    claims to have an MBA from New York University.
    Company cancels his bonus but does not fire him.
  • Sandra Baldwin, president of the U.S. Olympic
    Committee, resigns after admitting that she did
    not earn a Doctorate from Arizona State

Diploma Mills
The Sacramento Bee,Investigative Report 10/7/07
  • Dubious diplomas boost fire pay.
  • 16 Sacramento city firefighters together pocketed
    50,000 in extra pay after using bachelors
    degrees purchased from online diploma mills.
  • Buy a degree for as little as 499.

Another area to probe
  • Litigation against past or present employer
  • If you dont askthey might not tell you
  • Inquire about personnel file contents
  • Dig, dig, and dig

Recruiters True Life Examples
  • Credit Issues
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction
  • Workers Comp Fraud
  • False Identity
  • Non-Existent or Falsified Degrees
  • Criminal Activity
  • Civil Actions
  • Expunged Items Still in Public Records

The Internet Can Work For or Against Candidates
  • (1) Assist or promote the Candidates employment
    quest or Public Agencys position
  • -or-
  • (2) Act as a Torpedo for Candidate
  • So follow the Internet Trail

The Benefit of TechnologyExample of Assisting
the Agency
  • The City of Los Angeles benefited by not
    paying out a huge award when critical information
    was found online

Online Evidence.
  • Discrimination Lawsuit Could Cost Taxpayers
    7 Million
  • CBS Local News 9/13/07
  • Discrimination lawsuit against the City of Los
    Angeles was estimated to cost the City as much as
    a 7 million judgment for a local firefighter who
    was fed dog food as prank.
  • But, the settlement was vetoed by Mayor
    Villaraigosa after investigators found evidence
    online (You Tube) of the firefighters past
    participation in firehouse pranks

Dont assume someone will be truthful with full
  • Use the internet to your advantage
  • Research internet sites
  • Be aware but wary of blogs

Todays Technology Can Also Torpedo a Candidate
  • Top Candidate has blog.
  • Hiring Authority reads blog.
  • Blogs content becomes a discussion topic.
  • Decision is made not in favor of candidate.

Why do all of this background and investigation?
To get the right person on the right seat on the
avoid hiring mistakes that can be avoided!!!
Another Jim Collins favorite is
  • When in doubt, dont hire keep looking.

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