In a recent study done by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 345 human resources (HR) professionals were surveyed regarding reference checking of job applicants. They were questioned about their verification process, including employment history, documentation on driving records or credit reports, and communication with the job applicant's former supervisor or coworker, etc.

The survey results showed 96 percent of HR professionals do verify the backgrounds of candidates for upper management and executive level positions. Of those surveyed, a small number of them reported that their company does not perform background or reference checks.

SHRM also reported that more than half of the companies questioned outsource either some or all of their reference and background checking procedures.

Most HR professionals feel reference checking is very or somewhat successful in discovering employees who may perform poorly. Additionally, more than half of the respondents stated that their company has implemented a policy to prevent them from giving any information about current or former employees, including references.

One important reason to verify backgrounds of job applicants is due to an increase in the number of applicants who are willing to falsify their resumes. Companies cannot afford to take chances on their employees.

Education and job tenure are the most lied about areas on a resume. In a job interview, candidates most commonly lie about their compensation and reasons for leaving a job. Sometimes there are signs on applications that tell you someone is lying, but the best way to protect yourself against a dishonest applicant or future employee is to run a background check on each applicant you are considering.

Based on the SHRM survey findings, Industry People Group, an e-staffing services company for the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) industries, recommends the use of its VeriCruit service to perform background verification.

VeriCruit is industry specific and tailored for construction industry professionals. The VeriCruit service is available in standard and custom packages, which can include any combination of applicant background checks such as drivers license check, social security verification, criminal conviction search, sexual offender check, credit check, educational degree and professional certification, and employment history.

For more information, visit

Publication date: 02/28/2005