In the age of The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, hiring the right person can make or break your business. Read my new article about how an incorrect background check nearly set a company back by not finding the best person for the job. #backgroundchecks #hiringnow #corporatesecurity #greatreshuffle
The Expert Hollywood Makeup Artist—Who Almost Never Was
By RJ Kirschner
As one business learned the hard way, botched pre-employment background screenings can create a full-blown crisis when they’re the weak link in the hiring process. Our company in question operates in a unique industry: Providing specialized makeup to Hollywood for use in everything from monster movies and sci-fi extravaganzas to teen romance flicks.
The combination of chemical ingredients—and the famous people they will be applied to on set—means this makeup company must be very careful with whom it hires. (After all, they wouldn’t want some deranged psycho applying foundation to the face and necks of vulnerable cast members.)
As it so happens, the company relied on a national background checks provider for many years before the process broke down. Unfortunately, the collapse occurred during the hiring of a makeup expert we will call Peter Jones.
Our makeup company had pursued Jones for over a year and for good reason. Jones had nearly wizard-like aesthetic abilities, not to mention, an innate gift for gab, making him an industry legend.
No wonder they wanted Jones so badly.
After much outreach, including contract haggling, Jones agreed to come aboard. Thrilled, the makeup company instructed him to complete their standard onboarding procedures, including paperwork for a background check.
Here’s where things got weird. As part of the documentation, Jones had to list his full name and date of birth: January 6, 1976.
No problem, right? Wrong.
A few days later, the company’s CEO got the shock of his life when Jones’ background screening report came in. His prized makeup muscle—the acclaimed artist who would drive his company to new heights—had multiple felonies in Indiana, including both theft and even violent crimes.
After consideration the company’s general manager came to suspect Jones was not at all a dangerous felon, but rather, the background report itself was erroneous. Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to prove his hunch.
Before we find out if our GM’s suspicion was right, let’s talk about pre-employment background checks. These are often treated as a “commodity” by companies, with the quality of results dropping perilously fast. As the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) explains in a report, “Background screening companies now generate reports through largely automated processes. Generally, they run automated searches through giant databases of aggregated criminal record data. Reports may undergo only minimal, if any, manual review or quality control before an employer or landlord receives them.”
According to the NCLC’s most recent data, some of the background screening companies produce as many as 56 million background reports a year. That’s 23 reports per minute, leaving little time for a human to review the results of an algorithmic search.
Also, even if results are checked by a person, it’s likely to be a VA sitting in a foreign country, not an experienced security professional. To exacerbate matters, a constant struggle rages between data availability and privacy rights, making background reports based on database searches alone even more questionable.
Now, while many corporate leaders tend to worry about a person with criminal intent slipping through the cracks, our tale illustrates the other side of the coin―someone potentially deemed a crook by a background screening company that clearly didn’t give a hoot about him or their customer.
Around this time, my company Threat Management and Protection, Inc. (TMAP) got involved when the makeup company’s GM asked a private detective he knew to double-check the dubious background screening.
“Something’s off here. I don’t think this is the same Jones.” said the GM. “Can you look into it?”
The P.I. instantly replied, “In that case, you must talk to RJ and the TMAP team.”
After introductions were made, we flew into action to discern the truth—Was Jones truly the expert he seemed to be, or was he a dangerous criminal?
For starters, TMAP takes a vastly different approach from screening companies that use automated systems to generate basic reports. We instead verify details provided by applicants, and only then utilize databases, search tools, and court runners to retrieve information from law enforcement agencies and courts.
Our protocol provides a high level of confidence for our clients. Even so, sometimes even more digging is required. Sometimes we must go to the courthouse to pull records from a trial. And in cases where we don’t have direct access to needed information, we rely on an exclusive network of contacts throughout the country acquired over many decades.
Either way, there’s no stone we are forced to leave unturned.
TMAP’s legwork proved Peter Jones had never lived outside of California. It was extremely unlikely he had ever stepped foot in Indiana, let alone spent enough time there to build up such a lengthy arrest record. Our team also documented there was indeed a Peter Jones born in Indiana on the same day as our unlucky makeup artist.
That man’s arrest record had been incorrectly associated with the Peter Jones of California even though the actual criminal was now deceased. Upon documenting Jones’ true past, we gave him a clean background check. Immediately, the makeup company hired him, beginning a successful collaboration that’s lasted years. And proved quite lucrative for both parties.
But that wasn’t the only outcome of this case.
The beneficiary of our hard (sleuthing) work, the makeup company fired their current provider. They now run all their background checks through our service. We’ve also assisted them with modifying security procedures in other business areas, further protecting them against fraud and theft.
Like many other satisfied clients, this company saw firsthand how an incorrect background check nearly set their business back by not hiring the best person for the job. Your business faces the same risk if you aren’t working with dedicated professionals. If you don’t like the quality of your current background checks or you worry about receiving incorrect results, please contact TMAP today to learn how we can improve your hiring process.
Your company’s future might just depend on it.