Why More Small Towns are Ditching Word-of-Mouth Recommendations for Background Checks

If you’re from SomeSmallTown, America, chances are you know someone who got a job because they knew someone who vouched that person.

This happens regularly in small towns, but is by no means exclusive to these quaint hamlets. Word of mouth recommendations are often used as a solid measuring tool for a person’s trustworthiness, work ethic, qualifications and skills. It almost goes without saying, though, that word of mouth recommendations aren’t totally valid barometers of a job candidate’s employability. Hey, we said almost.

In fact, more small towns across America are realizing their hiring procedures and policies may not measure up and leave them vulnerable to lawsuits and other problems. Small towns are not the insular, protected places they once were, although we’d still love to believe that. And even though you’ve known someone for 30 years, doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING about them (the internet, for one, makes sure of that).

What’s the answer? Background checks.

Case Study: Vermont

Several towns in Vermont are currently going through this change. As this article in The Vermont Standard reports, some small towns are adding a background check requirement to job candidate’s applying for positions that work with at-risk populations like children and the elderly, and for emergency personnel positions like police departments and the volunteer-run First Aid Stabilization Team (FAST for short).

The issue came to light after FAST began considering an out-of-state candidate for the volunteer organization. The candidate doesn’t appear suspicious or have any immediate red flags, but FAST’s leader doesn’t want anyone to slip through the cracks.

And, in this day and age, anyone working with or near children or elderly people or folks with disabilities NEEDS to be background checked. The same goes for emergency personnel like law enforcement and fire fighters – even if they’re just volunteers. It’s simply a smart move to keep as many people safe and protected as possible.

Change is Coming

FAST leaders across Vermont now expect the state will require background checks for all emergency personnel, but that isn’t sitting well with some small town leaders who, as previously mentioned, are happy to rely on traditional, word-of-mouth vetting.

“In some cases, select boards rely on the community to tell them how they feel about a potential employee. Some vet applications through reference checks and then have a probationary period. The system of relying on that trust — instead of court documents — has worked so far, officials said.”

Towns in Vermont may want to take a look at how East Grand Forks, Minnesota handled its background check changeover. By most American standards, EGF is fairly small, and its situated on a border with North Dakota. The town realized it needed to implement better background checks while hiring city officials and emergency personnel as many applicants were from the other side of the border, and word-of-mouth vetting didn’t always cross state lines.

For more information on the EGF case, and why it may need to consider a better background check company in the future, click here.

The Active Screening Difference

So let’s say small towns in Vermont do decide to implement a background check requirement for any city employee who works near or with vulnerable populations, or who works or volunteers with an emergency management group. What should they look for in a background screening company?

  1. Accreditation – Active Screening is a nationally-accredited member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Find out why that matters here.
  2. Quality Assurance – Active Screening makes an impact because it recruits and selects only the most skilled and experienced research and verification specialists to implement its tools. We put our team members through the same type of thorough background check our clients use to vet their applicants.
  3. Superior Customer Support – We offer full resolution to most of your needs within 8 business hours and promise to respond to your requests within 4 business hours. Beyond that, we offer a live call center and extended support hours. We’re also really proud to offer live chat support so you can ‘speak’ with an Active Screening team member straight from your computer.
  4. Unparalleled Industry Knowledge – Our behind the scenes team has amassed an insane amount of insider knowledge about the screening industry. That’s the thing about working with Active Screening – you are partnering with people who believe in the power of protecting your employees through background checks. Investigating employees, volunteers, interns, coaches, and pastors is not simply a job for us – we know that we are your baseline defense to keep bad hires out of your company.
  5. Top Tier Technology – Tools like ACTivate Platform, our Single Sign-On Solution, make tracking your applicant super easy and put the power of customization into your hands. It’s convenient, quick, and accurate. Active Screening is proud to promote our 97% customer retention rate. That wouldn’t happen if we didn’t provide an accurate, easy-to-use and affordable service.

If you’re considering making the smart move toward implementing background checks – we’re looking at you Vermont towns – give us a call today at 1-800-319-5580.

This entry was posted in Applicant-Entry Solutions, Background Screening, General, Identity & Credit, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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