Executive Level Background Checks
Mitigating Reputational & Financial Risk
An executive level background check will give you an insight beyond a typical search that you would conduct a on a warehouse worker, driver or administrative assistant. The methodology and compliance requirements for an executive background check should be in line with your employment background screening practices, but the types of searches will be more expansive.
The reason that an executive level background check needs to be more comprehensive is because an executive can bring greater monetary harm and reputational risk to a company than other employees. Let’s start by defining the roles that are classified as executive level;
- CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
- Vice President of Sales
- CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
- Director/VP of Human Resources
- COO (Chief Operational Officer)
Potential executives that you are recruiting to fill these roles have likely had similar positions in other companies which means that they could have been involved a variety of very public and visible situations that impact their credibility. A couple of examples would be litigation (Civil- State or Federal) and bad press. Executives often have or had ownership in other companies and thus the issues that they faced owning and or selling a prior company can be used against them and their new employer.
An executive level background investigation will often be including the following components;
SSN (Social Security Trace)- Develop an address history so that all jurisdictions where the potential executive has lived or worked are thoroughly searched. The SSN trace will also develop alias names that might not be disclosed. The alias names should also be searched through the available searches to make sure no records are missed.
National Criminal Search- This is a high level search that is the basis of almost all background checks and will give visibility into potential criminal records and arrest records that will guide a background researcher to dig deeper.
Sex Offender Registry- Indication of sexual related offenses that should be verified via state and county level criminal records research.
Government Sanctions & Watch Lists- This search will uncover high level issues tied to government programs (State & Federal) that could preclude an executive from being a signer on bank accounts, violate master service agreement requirements and jeopardize client relationships.
Federal Civil (Nationwide)- A search of Federal Civil records will uncover any cases involving wire fraud, bankruptcy, intellectual property lawsuits, securities cases, bank fraud, immigration cases or any other frauds or torts that involve interstate commerce.
Federal Criminal (Nationwide)- A search of Federal Criminal records will uncover cases involving criminal matters where the executive was named as a defendant. Typical cases include, but are not limited to human trafficking, drug trafficking, immigration/deportation, military law and counterfeiting.
Global Media – Negative News- A comprehensive search of media sources that extends beyond a Google search is useful because if your clients, customers or partners conduct a search on their own you want to know what might come up. Press releases, court cases, and trade publications will often contain information harmful information about the conduct of an executive at some point in their career. Information found in the news about a potential executive is also a great way to find and locate lawsuits.
Social Media- A compliant search of social media will uncover information in the following areas of concern;
- Hostility, Harassment & Bullying
- Safety of Employees & Clients
- Negligent hiring Practices & Lawsuits
- Risk of Bad Publicity
The business-related online behaviors that are often found include; Demonstrations of Racism/Intolerance, Potentially Illegal Activities, Potentially Violent Conduct, and Sexually Explicit Material
International Searches- Executives have often worked or resided in locations throughout the world. A comprehensive executive level background check will include searches of all available databases in any countries where the executive has lived or worked.
Employment Verifications- Verifying all prior employers listed on a resume and or LinkedIn is something that must be done when hiring executives as this information is often visible to the public and can create reputational harm if the information presented is found to be inaccurate.
Education Verifications- Verifying degrees obtained by an executive again is something impacts the reputation of a company and the ability of the executive to have credibility with the team the players in the market. Below is an example of how failure to verify a degree can jeopardize a business.
Client hired a key employee claiming to have a PhD in an area of science that was necessary to develop a medical device. The R&D for this product involved years of planning, testing and certification. When investors found out that the key executive was a fraud and didn’t have a PhD they pulled funding which crippled the company and the product could not be brought to market.
Executive level background checks will take a little bit longer to complete and cost a little bit more, but the risk to the bottom line and reputation of the company should not be compromised by one bad hire.