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Drug Testing, Criminal Background Checks and Applicant Tracking Software June 10, 2011

Posted by Darwin in top applicant tracking systems.
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Are you about to expand your company? Have you decided to bid on state or federal contracts, propose a merger, or build out your existing work force to develop new products and services? If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, please stop for a moment and evaluate your hiring process, particularly that part of it where you screen potential new employees. Do you do drug testing or criminal background checks? Have you thought about starting them because of problems you’ve had with past employees? If you’re going to do it, there are a few things you need to know.

First off, if you’re going to bid on any contract where federal or state dollars are involved, institute drug testing and criminal background checks right now, for everyone, not just the new employees. Go back in your archives, any applicant tracking software you’ve been using should help with this, and look up records for existing personnel. Some may have gone through screening. Others may be required to. Create a new “checked” or “screened” category in the database you use to keep track of your employees. Most applicant tracking databases allow you to do that.

There are legal issues involved when you do drug testing and background checks, so make sure your company attorney checks those out before you begin the process. You may not be able to test your current employees if they didn’t agree to it when they were hired, but a new contract requiring testing could supersede that rule. You could also ask your employees individually or go to the labor reps if you’re a union shop. If you present your case with valid reasoning there’s no reason they should refuse.

It’s a tremendous benefit to be able to present yourself as a drug-free company, with employees that have undergone a criminal background check. That status alone will go a long way in enticing those who want to do business with you. Put yourself on the other end of a merger negotiation. Do you want to take on an unknown entity as part of your company? At least with employee screening and applicant tracking you know something about the people who work for your new potential partner. Spreadsheets and financial reports should tell you the rest of what you need to know.

The top applicant tracking systems in the world now come with fields already in place for background checks and drug testing. There’s a reason for that. Criminal histories and substance abuse are two of the most distressing problems business owners have to deal with today. If you are a business owner or manager, you can check for past histories of those types of things. If you want to expand using state or federal dollars you might have to. Check into it before you do anything else. Put a new system in place where every employee is screened for drug use and criminal history, and then record the results in your applicant tracking database, for hires and non-hires. Those you don’t hire may apply again some time, so you’ll need those records.

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