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International Background Checks for Employment 101

International Background Checks for Employment 101

Just one name reminds employers that a background check is critical to hiring good, trustworthy people:  Edward Snowden.  For employers with international locations, international applicants (or both) an international background check is key to securing not just talented people, but people who are reputable team players–ones in whom employers can safely invest their resources.  The alternative, hiring a fraud, can be a costly mistake and hard learning lesson.  No question, it pays to verify.

What is covered

A lot goes into a thorough pre-employment background check, and each company chooses which areas of a candidate’s background to investigate, depending on their potential function within the company.  For applicants wanting to work in finance, a look into their personal bankruptcy history could be in order.  Besides that, employers can request credit reports, military service records, education verification, obtain references, check criminal and court records and much, much more.  In the process, they’ll find out if an applicant has been honest on his or her resume and the details beyond what’s presented on a resume, or even in an interview.  A trained investigator will also highlight any potential risk factors.

What you should know

The laws regulating specific areas of background searches can vary from state to state and country to country, so it’s wise to engage the help of a professional.  Verifying someone on the other side of the world is no easy task.  First off, it’s important the background check agency or professional investigation firm you’re working with has trained investigators on the ground in the country where you need the verifications.  If you’re hiring someone from China or India, for example, you’ll need someone who speaks the language and has access to local records.  Don’t assume that developing countries work the same as developed countries.  Each country is unique, with different challenges and different methods of access to information and data.  Be very skeptical of anyone who claims that checking criminal records alone is a prudent way to mitigate your risk.  Checking criminal and court records is only a small part of the total process.

What and who to verify

Before you consider an international background check, look into the information that many employers verify when vetting potential employees, provided by the U.S. Small Business Association.  Remember that no company and no new international hire is exactly the same.  Different positions require a different level of vetting.  For example, a call center employee in the Philippines may not need as much scrutiny as the Sales Manager you’re hiring for Eastern Europe.  Decide what’s most important for you.

In the New York Times You’re the Boss blog, Rebecca Cenni, the founder of Atrium Staffing, underscored the importance of employee background checks. When asked whose backgrounds she checks before placing workers in other companies, she replied: “Everyone.”  Consequently, she was shocked to find out that when her own company needed a new employee, the staffing firm she used had not run a background check.  She urges employers to make sure that every employee has been properly vetted before being hired.

Other risk factors

The most recent twist in the background check process has been the option of running a social media background check on an applicant.  In fact, many companies claim to have rejected a candidate following a social media background check.  Through such a check, employers uncover another layer of information about potential hires. The practice has yet to become standard, though, and has created an active debate within the recruitment and human resources communities.  Private investigators have always considered all accessible information fair game, and remind us to share less online to be safe.

The most important time to outsource your background checks is when they are international in scope.  Professionals have vetting resources that most businesses—whose focus is elsewhere—simply don’t.  In fact, if you’re hiring a new employee for one of your foreign offices, or if your favorite applicant has lived outside of the United Sates for a while, protecting your company’s proprietary knowledge may depend on a thorough background check.   With such a check, you can move forward with peace of mind. Without one, you could find yourself in the middle of a Snowden-like employment nightmare.

Don’t risk it.  Be safe and verify!

C. Wright
© 2014 Wymoo International
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© Copyright 2014 Wymoo International.  All Rights Reserved.  This content is the property of Wymoo International, LLC and is protected by United States and international copyright laws.

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