Recruitment Risk Reduction Tips Added to THE VAULT


When recruiters/head hunters, managers or HR professionals are in need to
fill a position, they should look for more than just a proper skill set, experience or a good fit for team or company.

An article initially published at http://dierckx.terapad.com in October 2008, but still current is now added to “THE VAULT”: a selection of older but still current blog posts.

EMPLOYMENT CHECKS INCLUDING


Recruitment Risk Reduction Tips


When recruiters/head hunters, managers or HR professionals are in need to
fill a position, they should look for more than just a proper skill set, experience or a good fit for team or company. They should also consider whether or not there are or may be reasons for not contracting a specific applicant

It is estimated that around 10% (US) of applicants have criminal convictions. A considerable amount of resumes contain serious falsehoods or omissions. Diplomas and certificates can  be bought at a reasonable price by those that want to beef up their academic achievements. It is therefore important to avoid costly mistakes and
that appropriate measures are taken to reduce the risk associated with recruitment/hiring new employees. Especially in tighter markets where there is a shortage of skills, the need for proper hiring procedures may be overlooked or neglected.

At all times however, you will want to find a balance between required controls and attracting applicants. Employers, should use evaluation tools. For the purpose of this article however, and realizing that such a programmatic approach is not always
realized, here are some tips that can be used immediately, at no cost, that will assist you in better informed decisions and will hopefully reduce your recruitment risks.

It is well known that even the best fraud controls will not do their job if you hire
dishonest employees. While it may not always be possible to predict the future and while it is believed that everyone deserves a second chance, I also promote that you can only make a good decision in these matters if you are well informed. I speak from experience when I say that I have often ended up being involved in cases where the signs were all
over the wall. If someone had only taken the trouble of a proper evaluation of the information provided by candidates.

Ok, enough now,here are some tips that may assist you in making better informed
decisions.

  1. First determine what the actual needs of the organization
    are and whether or not these needs may be addressed internally.
    Consider recruiting internally first. 
  2. If at all possible use pre-formatted application forms and include any documents or authorization forms that you may require. This ensures that you stay in control of the information you require from each applicant and forces to sit down and document your requirements.
  3. Have each job applicant sign a consent form for a background check, including a check for criminal records, past employment, financial information and education. Announcing upfront that your firm checks applicants’ backgrounds may discourage applicants with something to hide, and encourage applicants to be truthful and honest about mistakes they have made in the past.
  4. In addition to an actual check, ask whether or not an applicant has been convicted for criminal offenses in the broadest possible terms allowed by law. Laws may differ considerably so ask your lawyer or HR professional where the boundaries are.
  5. Towards the end of an interview, advise applicants that the firm performs a
    criminal background and reference check as a standard business practice.
  6. Ask the applicant if he or she has any concerns to share. Good applicants will usually pay no heed to the question. Applicants with a problematic background may either reveal relevant background information or withdraw their application.
  7. You could ask applicants during an interview what they think a former employer might say about them. For example, “If we were to contact past employers, how would they describe your performance, work style?” Since the applicant has signed an authorization and has been advised that such checks may occur, the applicant may be more motivated to reveal information about past jobs.
  8. Make sure that the applicants are advised in clear terms that any false or
    misleading statements or material omissions are grounds to terminate the hiring process or employment, regardless of when discovered.
  9. Should employment commence before the completion of a background check: make
    sure that any agreement states in writing that employment is conditional upon a background report that is satisfactory to the employer.
  10. Verifying past employment is often a neglected but very important tool for an
    employer. Generally speaking, past job performance can be a predictor
    of future success and offers you an opportunity to test whether or not there may be issues as to how the applicant may fit in.
  11. Verification of dates of employment and job title are critical because an employer:
    there may be hidden and unexplained gaps in the employment history to
    should be discussed or may raise concern. There may be many reasons for a gap in employment.
  12. When you are provided contact details of referees from past employers or otherwise, always use the general number of the organization as opposed to any private number or DDI provided. Ill-willed applicants may have made arangments with friends or family.
  13. Gaps in employment histories should at all times be discussed. There may be a thousand very valid reasons for these gaps, however if an applicant cannot account for them that could be a red flag. Where in doubt, consider ways to corroborate the explanations provided by the applicant.  
  14. Ask for previous addresses, and likewise, if an applicant cannot account for them that may be another red flag. In some jurisdictions (for instance US) previous addresses are paramount to efficiently and effectively perform adequate criminal background checks due to the way the system is set up.
  15. Obtain a listing of all past addresses for five to ten years.
  16. Advise applicants that besides pre-employment screenings, employment screenings may be performed for specific reasons for instance if a future investigation is required.
  17. Since you already obtained the authorization, do actually check for criminal records. There are services providers that can assist in this, as well as obtain financial and other background information.
  18. Finally, documenting an attempt to obtain references can demonstrate due diligence and may be seen as an expression of how serious you take your company and its employees, the applicant included. They are after all your most important asset.

Originally posted at Dierckx & Associates.

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A Pro-active Approach to Occupational Fraud, Abuse and Employee Theft


Time and time again reports show that when it comes to fraud, the greatest threat is not from outsiders but from insiders. Organizations can be proactive in preventing, detecting, investigating and resolving employee theft and fraud. 

LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Senior management and business owners set the example for the organization’s employees. A non-consistent attitude toward rules and regulations by management will more than once be reflected in the attitude of employees. Every employee, regardless of their position, should be held accountable for their actions, so yes that includes top management.

And in all honesty, more than once we have found our initial client contact to be the involved party. It is often management that has the greatest access to fraudulent opportunities and it is more than once that same management that can get away with control overrides.

POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Create a positive work environment that encourages employees to follow established policies and procedures and act in the best interests of the organization.

Fair employment practices, written position descriptions, clear organizational structures, comprehensive policies and procedures, open lines of communication between management and employees, and positive employee recognition will all work to reduce the likelihood internal fraud and theft.

I see the importance in my daily practice. Once fraud and/or theft is established and a  perpetrator has been identified, more than once the issue of feeling not-recognized is at least part of the motive for stepping across the line.

INTERNAL CONTROLS– Internal controls are designed to ensure the effectiveness and efficiencies of operations, compliance with laws and regulations, safeguarding of assets, and accurate financial reporting (See for instance the COSO model).

The internal controls controls for safeguarding assets and financial reporting require policies and procedures that address amongst others:

  • Separation of Duties
    No employee should be responsible for both the recording and processing a transaction. I am aware that In New Zealand with a substantial percentage of very small businesses this is sometimes hard. However there are always options and more than once overriding this basic procedure for the sake of practicability has been disastrous.
  • Access Controls
    Access to physical and financial assets and information and accounting systems should be restricted to authorized employees and its use should be monitored on a regular basis.Start off with simple checks: just ask your employees out of the blue, I need the password of so and so who’s not here today, can anyone help me? You’ll be surprised, or check for the yellow post its on the bottom of the screen or the back of the computer.
    And where it comes to physical access: more than once actually today I could have nicked all the confidential assets of my client: the person I was supposed to meet was tucked away in the back of the building, the rest of the crew was at a seminar, and me I walked around and saw computers standing open, no one to receive me at the door and access to all offices. Not good.
  • Authorization Controls
    Policies and procedures addressing the controls to initiate, authorize, record, and review financial transactions.
    Internal controls will reduce the opportunity for fraud as a detterent factor and will enhance the efficiency and effectivity of your operations.


EMPLOYEE SELECTION
If you hire dishonest employees you run a risk. Honest employees are an asset to any organization, even one with poor internal controls. However, a dishonest employee will ignore management’s attempts to provide a positive work environment and search for ways to defeat even the most comprehensive internal controls to commit fraud.

It is good to realize upfront that no internal control system is  100% fail safe.

Therefore it is very important to keep dishonest applicants from becoming an employee. A thorough pre-employment background check should include:

  • Criminal history for crimes involving violence, theft, fraud, etc
  • Civil history for lawsuits involving collections, restraining orders, fraud, etc
  • A financial background check (Baynet)
  • Driver license for numerous or serious violations especially where driving is part of the job
  • Education verification to verify degrees from accredited institutions. By now I receive approximately 20 emails a day offering me different  degrees and certifications for sale. You can no longer afford to be just impressed with what you see. A check is a  requirement.
  • Employment verification to verify positions, length of employment, reason for leaving


EMPLOYEE EDUCATION
Employees should receive information on the policies and procedures related to fraud, the internal controls in place to prevent fraud, the organisation’s code of conduct and ethics policies, and how violations of these policies will be disciplined.

Every employee should sign a form to verify the receipt of this material. On a periodical basis it is recommended that employees receive training on these subject matters.

And before I forget: referring new employees to the companies intranet for further advice without providing them a full package is not a good option top keep them updated. They are an important asset, make education something personal.

REPORTING SYSTEM
If anything, more than once I encounter witnesses saying that they “had this feeling all along that something was not ok. But I didn’t know where to go to to express my concerns and I didn’t want that colleague to become a suspect for nothing”

Every organization should provide a confidential reporting system for employees, vendors, and customers to anonymously report any violations of policies and procedure and even concerns.

Employers should promote and encourage the use of the reporting system. Not just from a reactive point of view but also pro-actively. More than once vices are involved or  signs are visible at an early stage, bosses don’t see, colleagues do: make sure they can communicate those concerns.

AUDITS/ASSESSMENTS
Random, unannounced financial audits and fraud assessments are important to identify new vulnerabilities and measure the effectiveness of the controls in place.

In addition to gathering important business intelligence through audits and assessments; it will deliver a strong message to employees that a pro-active stance in respect of fraud is a priority

INCIDENT INVESTIGATION
A thorough and prompt investigation of policy and procedure violations, allegations of fraud, or the warning signs of fraud will provide management with the facts necessary to make informed decisions and reduce losses.

And again it send a strong message to the internal organization that these things are taken seriously.

APPROPRIATE PUNISHMENT
Employees who are identified as committing fraud and theft should receive appropriate punishment for their misdeeds. A failure to do so leaves an impression that the only risk for this conduct is termination. At all times it is recommended that recovery of damages including the costs of investigation, litigation or prosecution is sought.

This post was previously posted at the Dierckx & Associates Blog. I believe, based on current experiences that it is still current.

Gandhi


This is the first post in a new category: inspirational figures. In my opinion, reading the ideas of the great in history and of our times is a great way of self-improvement and inspiration. In this category I will discuss some of the ideas that I picked up of these great. I will not write long biographies, there are plenty of books and sites around to read these, this category is meant more as an extension of both, my journal and my thoughts that pop up after reading about these people or their works.

I had the immense pleasure to watch the movie Gandhi last week. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was again swept away with the beauty of the movie and more importantly the incredible life and achievements of this very important 20th century spiritual leader.

And whilst the movie swept me away I realized what an incredible man this Gandhi was and how we could use someone like that in our current days and times.

Some inspirational Quotes

“Non violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by ingenuity of man”

Is that not something we should all realize ourselves in these times of terror, war on terror, rising rates of violent crime. Gandhi realized and  lived this notion. He understood the power of turning your other cheek as promoted in the bible. Isn’t there not something very disarming in just refusing to use violence?

And here is one that could make so many people live more fulfilled lives if they understood this:

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment”

The idea should be familiar for those that have indulged themselves in the world of self help and life coaching: enjoy the process.

“It does not require money to be neat, clean and dignified.”

Often so misunderstood.

From the movie itself the following quote:

I am a Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew and so are all of you. When you wave those flags and shout , you send fear into the hearts of your brothers…. Stop it, for God sake stop it”

There have been many that have discussed the idea of tolerance but seldom in such strong and simple words. With this one sentence all that needs to be said is said. Look around and see what is going on, how intolerance has made us fight each other and forget that ultimately we are all one and the same, children under God, whatever name we want to give that God.

So who are we actually fighting: ourselves.

There are simply no winners in war. If we could all embrace this notion of Gandhi, which in other words  can be found in the words of for instance the Dalai Lama, and embrace at the same time the idea of non-violence, would the world not be a different place?

“I want to change their minds, not kill them for weaknesses we all possess.”

His greatest weapon probably was living a life of peace and love and leading others in doing so.

“For this cause I am prepared to die. There is no cause for which I am prepared to kill”

Seeing the movie it is almost unimaginable to believe that such an incredible man could actually exist. A man that made us look at ourselves and ask difficult questions. Perhaps it is time we start reliving his ideas again. The world could certainly use such an approach.

“Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable”

In the words of George C. Marshall:

“Gandhi has become the spokesman of a conscience of all mankind. He was a man that made humility and truth more powerful than empires.”

To close off and get you to think some additional inspirational quotes:

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will”

“A nation that is capable of limitless sacrifice is capable of rising to limitless hights”

“Where there is love there is life”

“They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then they will have my dead body, not my obedience”

“Cowards can never be moral”

“I believe that non-cooperation with evil is a duty” ” Non-cooperation is a protest against an unwitting and unwilling participation in evil”

Previously posted at The Renaissance Man
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Book Review: Ian Wishart, Eve’s Bite


(16 May 2007 copied from the Renaissance Man at http://johndierckx.terapad.com)

evewebI came home from Singapore to find as a home coming surprise that my wife and children had bought me the book Eve’s Bite, by Ian Wishart. I had been curious about the book ever since I saw the first adverts. Honestly how could you not be curious reading the subtitle: “Seductive, Deceptive, Dangerous: the Trojan Horse ideologies poisoning our country and destroying the West”.

I sat down later that day and started reading. What a pleasure. Whether you agree or not, finally someone that tells things the way he thinks they are. No PC, no watering down, straight ahead and critical. Some days later my wife offered me a package she had found while emptying our mailbox: a copy of the same book! And I remembered: some weeks before I had sent an email response to Ian Wishart, advising that I would like to obtain, as offered, a free copy of the book so I could review it on my blog. A NZ first: Ian Wishart, thanks for considering the value of bloggers!

Now I could have brought the bought copy back. But by that time I was already well in there and I already felt like I should buy a box of these books to hand out to the masses if only for the sake of countering the mind pollution and apathy so apparent.

A BIT OF BACKGROUND
Ever since arriving in New Zealand I have been amazed by the way the politics are being ran in this country, the level of interference in the daily lives of people and the dullness of the media. Of course being new, you consider that maybe you need to gain some more understanding but slowly over time some ideas such as “mind police”, “banana republic” and “thought pollution” came more and more to mind.

Was I not understanding things or were these Kiwi’s blind and apathetic? “She’ll be right”.  NO!! She’ll not be right, something is terribly wrong: polices on snacks in the the Ministry of Health snack machines, people telling me what kind of “brain snack” my son requires at school, laws like the anti-smacking bill passing wth so much public resistance and more importantly media praising the decision of National to sell out. Politicians being implicated in all kinds of corruptive allegations, desinformation provided through government campaigns like “no hubba without a rubba”

If I provide false information about products or services I sell I could be liable under the  Fair Trading Act, yet the government is trying to sell me on the use of condoms to protect me and the younger generations against STD’s against which condoms are not known to protect? Are we really that stupid? What were these guys reading when they came to this conclusion? A comic? Or what to think of “noble gestures” such as lowering the bar for people that want to apply for legal aid. For crying out loud, what a bunch of window dressing! Ever tried to find a good lawyer that is willing to take your case on legal aid?

Anyway, I have had my doubts and concerns ever since I started looking into things in New Zealand as part of my integration. And than I run into a book like this: Eve’s Bite.

EVE’s BITE

Wishart is not afraid in the choice of his subjects: Karl Marx, Nazi propaganda techniques, Charles Darwin & intelligent design, Richard Dawkins, the gay rights movement, the “safe sex” campaign, abortion & trade in body parts, the anti-smacking campaign, liberal education, the mainstream media eugenics and islam and the threat to the west. He managed to bring them all together and identifies the  relationships between them in a more than just compelling way. Having enjoyed a rather liberal approach to life and society this book was most certainly an eye-opener that made me rethink certain positions.

The book has its value if only because it provides a very informative picture that I had been missing in the mainstream media here in New Zealand and I doubt any of the mainstream media would have made such a publication possible: thank God for the independents. In that sense, the book review by John Roughan in the New Zealand Herald was illustrative and for that matter rather cheap. Not agreeing with someone is one thing, not recognizing the potential value of a book makes you as far as I am concerned rather useless as a reviewer. Or is that part of what is expected as a member of New Zealand society: go with the Government directed flow? Is John Roughan  maybe part of the deal? Or is he just one of those chose and pick, narrow minded pathetic little souls – afraid to see their own beliefs challenged and in a leap for certainty and relief – marginalize honest contributions that happen to oppose his views? Again this is not about whether you agree or not with the findings of Wishart, it is about appreciating that someone has had the balls to come out with a completely different perspective than the one we are all so used to and offering a counter perspective to the media mainstream sitting in the lap of government.

Did anyone ever wonder why we would have to worry about political correctness? Isn’t political correctness in a democratic society which New Zealand claims to be a “contradictio in terminis”? How can it be that in a liberal society as our own we have to wonder about expressing out opinions? Well Ian Wishart sure makes it a point to present his – well documented – own. That alone makes this book a fantastic read.

Once you pass 40 things change. In my case this lead to reevaluating my views on the world and religion. Becoming a father most certainly aided to this need to rethink my own positions and beliefs. Eve’s Bite fitted in perfectly in that development, a wake up call or better yet a good shake through, offering a different perspective on many things. I have for instance often wondered personally why we are so focused on the differences between religions whilst they all appear to underline the basic humanitarian principles The presentation of Islam as both a religious and  political system was a new one to me and gives me plenty of new food for thought and research especially having seen those no-go areas from up close in the Netherlands.

How sad to read a comment by John Roughan like:

“He is an unusual moralist. The book does not offer any detail of his own religious faith or moral code. He is a journalist, his focus is outward, on the things other people think and write, not on his own thoughts.

moral journalism can work in a magazine article but it does not work in a book. Readers willing to devote as much time and concentration as a book invites need more than declamatory prose.”

Did he really not understand it? If anything the book appears to be a providing a clear view on Wishart’s opinions, substantiated by literature that supports his views. Now from a broader perspective one could wonder why the opposing parties were so ‘under lighted’ but… in the terms of a liberal approach, Wishart chose to “positively discriminate” his own agenda. That is actually good since the other side of things is shoved in our throats on a daily basis.  Name me one other journalist not associated with  Investigate Magazine with a critical view and at the same time depth. In the terms of John Roughan: I never experienced the book as “declamatory prose”, what’s more important who the heck is he to decide and judge on what readers of a book need? I could just as well say that readers of a review need more than a biased opinion. They need a clear outline of the contents.

From a personal perspective, I would have to agree that the Dawkins chapter is not the strongest, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the opportunity to see a different perspective so rarely seen in New Zealand media. The direct way in which propositions are presented helps in creating effect. Not necessarily to convince you. But to open your eyes to other perspectives so carefully hidden. The book reminds me most of one of Michael Pokocky’s remarks after closing SophisticaWorld: “think for yourself”. As far as I can see it is what this book is all about: thinking for yourself and trying to make you think for yourself again. For the sake  of yourselves and your children.

In the following weeks I will very likely highlight specific parts of the book. For now  have found a great destination for my spare copy: Mike Pokocky it’s on it’s way, together with a notebook.

Spanish Chicken Fingers


Those who know me know about my passion for snack food, just those yummy nibbles to have with your glass of wine or a beer and in this case, out in the sun. This recipe was originally posted on the ‘old renaissance man blog http://johndierckx.terapad.com

For 3-4 people.

Chicken Fingers

Cut 3 chicken breeast fillets into strips (around 600 grams).

Marinade
Put in the blender:

  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Bay Leave
  • some Thyme
  • Some crushed red pepper (around a tea spoon)
  • Half a glass of white wine (dry to medium)
  • Some Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black or 4 Season Pepper

Blend all together to make a smooth mixture and flick chicken in this marinade. Let rest for at least an hour.

The Crumbled Crust

Mix bread crumbs with a good amount of fresh parsley and chives.
Roll chicken straight from the marinade through the crumbs and herbs mixture and place on a plate (with baking paper)

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius

Cook fingers until tender, turn around half way (around 6-8 minutes per side).

Serve with garlic mayonaisse or aioli.