You need a new controller. You advertise, interview, check a couple of employment references, and have a candidate who really impresses you. You hire them. Two months later, the spouse of a board member happens across an article on the internet about that same employee having been arrested for embezzlement two years prior. Please take a moment to savor the exquisite anticipation of that next board meeting. Has the scenario got you popping Tums®? Good. It should.
Now think about how easy it is to check on potential employees before you hire them. (And yes, it really is easy.) Every employee you hire should be checked out in some way. How extensively you should dig is directly related to the position, level, and type of responsibility of the position.
Dishwashers, cleaning crew, basic labor in the golf course, and similar positions in your club do not require the same level of checks as a controller, daycare worker, or anyone else with sensitive responsibilities. In fact, an increasing number of states are requiring specific articulation as to why a particular criminal conviction would prevent a person from getting a particular job. If the dishwasher was arrested for simple marijuana possession two years ago, does that really matter? Some states say no, and you are barred from denying them employment based on that record. Be sure to know the laws in your state. On the other hand, if a golf course maintenance worker drives equipment around all day, then a history of drinking-related offenses may certainly be relevant. I know of an incident where just such an intoxicated employee crashed a Cushman and killed himself on the job.
You should be conducting a variety of different pre-employment checks including criminal history, credit checks, degree verification, interviews with the candidate (regarding their background), certification verification, extensive reference interviews, previous employment verification (definitely different than reference interviews), open source searches, sex offender registration checks, verification of each claim on the resume, etc. Yes, it is a big list, but remember, not all of it is needed for each position.
You also have to know what you are getting. When you are searching for a “criminal record,” that can be many different things. Also, you need to search many jurisdictions. There are city, county, state, and federal records, and they are queried differently. If the candidate lives in one county and has worked in another, which county should you search? – As many as you can identify, obviously.
How do you perform these checks? Some of them are easy and can be done fairly quickly on the Internet. Some are more complicated and may require you to hire a company to perform. In the next article I will provide more detail regarding the different areas that need to be checked. For now my goal is to get you thinking about the importance of background checks. If there is one very easy thing that you can do that can pay off big dividends in the future, it is making sure that you research your job candidates before you hire them. – KP
Kevin R. Peters
Kevin Peters is a retired federal agent and former club manager who conducts the candidate backgrounding for Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC. He is also owner of KR Peters Security, LLC, a security consulting company primarily servicing the private club industry.