Recruitment is changing in professional services. With hiring levels on the increase, many accountancy firms, law firms and property companies are going to unprecedented lengths when it comes to checking the backgrounds of their prospective employees.
Gone are the days when pre-employment screening was limited to senior executives; in the last 12 months we have seen a significant rise in pre-employment background checks being carried out for candidates at all levels of employment, not just for those in senior positions.
Should I be worried about these background checks?
In the case of most firms, these checks are now standard procedure for all potential employees, including temporary workers and contractors, and in the majority of cases the process is very straightforward.
However, as a result of these checks now becoming standard procedure, it is vital that you are open and honest about your background from the start and that you disclose all information about any CCJs or criminal records you may have before your CV is put forward for interview.
Some companies have a no compromise policy and are not able to hire anybody with a CCJ or CRB so if you have either of these on your record, it is really important that you disclose this from the outset.
It is far better to be upfront and honest from the start than to waste your time (and everyone else’s) interviewing for a role that you ultimately will not be able to work in.
What happens if I don’t disclose this information?
Don’t chance your luck and try to get away with omitting information – the background checks are extremely thorough and you will be found out.
Many larger firms have partnered with outsourced pre-employment agencies that manage the background checks on the firm’s behalf. These agencies will liaise directly with you, the potential employee, as well as the firm’s HR contact. All information is gathered by an external expert and you will be assigned a specific person to look after your case.
However, the drawback of this process is that it can often take 2 - 4 weeks to gather all the information required, which can delay your start date.
There is also little room for forgiveness if discrepancies are found on your CV and this could ultimately result in someone losing out on a job they thought they had secured - we have seen offers pulled because discrepancies have been found.
Your CV checklist
The pre-employment checks are very thorough and require a great deal of information to be provided once an offer has been made and accepted.
It is therefore important to ensure from the outset that your CV is 100% accurate and is a true reflection of your career history to date.
Points to check include:
Are all the dates and details of the schools you attended correct?
Are all the grades stated on your CV accurate? It wouldn’t hurt to dig out your
certificates (if you can find them) to double check.
Clearly state whether a qualification has already been completed or if you are still studying towards this.
Dates of Employment
If you are not sure of your previous employment dates, don’t guess. Have a look on your LinkedIn account, review your old payslips and P45s if needed. This is really important.
Titles in previous roles
Are the job titles you stated on your CV exactly the same as what is stated in your previous employment contracts? It needs to be.
Gaps in your CV
Where possible, explain these.
Temporary/Contract or a Permanent position
We advise that you state on your CV how you were employed at previous firms. If it was a short term contract, it removes any concern around why you left after a short amount of time.
If you have left a permanent role after a relatively short amount of time, mention your reason for leaving on your CV (being as professional as possible).
If you have reviewed all the above before applying for your new position, the background checks should be fairly straight forward.
Top tips for successfully completing your pre-employment checks
1. Act quickly
The sooner you can send back the forms and gather the information required the sooner it can be processed and you can get started in your new role.
2. Communication is key
Until you have a start date confirmed, keep a close eye on your emails and phone in case the agency contacts you with any queries. The longer these take to get resolved, the later your start date will be and the more likely concerns will be raised about your application.
3. Be Honest
Any information you provide has to be 100% true, any discrepancies will be picked up on and any offers will be pulled.
Ultimately, succeeding in these background checks is down to you. Ensure your CV is accurate from the start and that you act quickly to any requests made and this should be a painless process.
If you have any questions regarding this issue or are seeking a new role in the legal finance sector, please get in touch.