Charity begins with the Pre-Employment check!

Lessons from the crises in the charity sector – the value of pre-employment checking

 Throughout 2017 and into 2018 we have seen countless revelations in respect of the conduct of individuals across different sectors from sport to the church to the movie industry, and now the third sector seems to be the latest to struggle with its responses to scandalous behaviours from its staff. Oxfam and Save the Children are of course the more high profile cases, but just like the movie industry, we should expect this one to shed light also on a few more skeletons in the closet.

Central to a number of these stories, below, is the principal of disclosure, where many individuals appear to have moved from one organisation to another within the sector with ease and without issue despite growing knowledge about inappropriate behaviours.

It does beg the big question of how, given their previous behaviours, the individuals involved have had the opportunity to secure important and public facing positions with their new employers.

And these are the cases we know about. What about those cases that have been successful at sweeping everything under the carpet, with individuals still in post – potentially still getting away with damaging behaviour?

How can the third sector shed light on this and improve its governance policies? Does this also raise issues about the quality and even the value of the pre-employment process? Was there a pre-employment process followed at all, or was it just an administrative tick box exercise? Or, no matter how effective the pre-employment process was, would such relevant information have ever been disclosed?

All employers have usually received the references which state only the positon, start and end dates. These bland factual based references do not give the new employer an understanding of character, performance or behaviour.

How can a prospective employer, and especially an employer such as a charity that has to be beyond reproach, peer beyond this bland factual wall?

A good pre-employment process is comprehensive. It not only verifies the individual’s identity and checks their stated employment dates, it also checks the character of the prospective employee. This process requires more than a few machine algorithms and automation much loved by recruiters these days. It requires the human touch and human judgement – a process that allows for digging a little deeper if something doesn’t seem right and if the statements on a candidate’s CV don’t seem to add up. Checking their character by speaking to character referees as well as previous employers, checking their qualifications and where appropriate their finances. These can all prove useful insights to establish a candidate’s character. But it’s also important to take this further. Technology these days means we all have our digital personas and lives, so by looking into a candidate’s social and digital presence can paint a picture of a person that no automated software can yet pick up on.

When an employer can glean a more comprehensive story of the individual, and from this an employer can be more confident that the person is not only right for the role but fits with their business culture and values. In a charity, values and integrity are paramount.

Unfortunately, in this rapidly moving world we now live in, organisations often put expediency first in their desire to snap up talent in an increasingly competitive market. This means they are still undervaluing the pre-employment process, and it can be a very costly mistake. In the case of Oxfam, rogue individuals are putting the very organisation itself at risk!

Whether you are a charity or a third sector company, or whether you are an SME or a global corporate, if you rely on processes that are no more than tick box exercises, you need to consider the risks. Recruiting staff, especially senior managers and executives is one of the biggest investments any organisation can make, not just in the costs of recruitment but in what impact that person has on the company when in post.

These revelations should act as a strong reminder that hiring talent is one of the most important business decisions they will make. If you don’t have a robust and forensic pre-employment process in place, what risk are exposing your company to and what could it do to your brand damage if you put a rogue employee in post? Is that a risk worth taking!


Signature HR carries out comprehensive pre-employment checks, with a range of services on offer. Call us today for an informal chat.




Recruitment Strategies for today’s workforce…


When you want to gain the best employees your recruitment and selection processes need to be the best…

Dynamic and thriving companies always hire the smartest people, their HR department spend time in finding the best ways to do this, that is why at Signature HR we offer the very best in Pre-employment screening.

Six out of ten employers have rejected a candidate, or failed to confirm an appointment because of an unfavourable reference. 
One of the reasons for the continued emphasis on reference checking is evidence that more job candidates are lying or exaggerating their achievements or experience on their CVs.
 This is more prevalent in the current tough economic climate as competition for each vacancy is significantly increased.

Take a look at this article from Forbes magazine for further insight into pre-employment screening:

Three critical pre-employment screening tips to help ensure you’re recruitment decision is the right one.

It’s an unfortunate truth that all businesses at some point will have discovered the consequences of a bad hiring decision. More often than not this boils down to nothing more than an issue of cultural fit, or a simple skills gap, which is relatively easy to rectify. However, more and more often we are hearing of companies who, after hiring a new employee, are left facing much more potentially damaging consequences.

From hefty fines, legal implications, and not to mention the detrimental consequences to your company’s reputation, the cost of a bad hiring decision has ramifications that can often last long after the employee in question has left.

Of course, ensuring your hiring processes are comprehensive can go some way to ensuring you don’t have the misfortune of facing such dilemmas. Hiring managers are increasingly moving away from the traditional question and answer approach to interviews, instead requiring candidates to undergo psychometric testing and a variety of other assessment activities, which affords employers the ability to gain greater understanding of how a person works as part of a team, as well as what motivates an employee, while uncovering their competencies in a working environment.

But after interviewing what can employers do to ensure that their hiring decision is the right one.

1 Check references:

In public sector organisations reference checking is meticulous. However, that same cannot be said for organisations who operate in the private sector. All too often employers take candidates at face value, or believe that the referencing process is a long and drawn out one. Yet, while it can mean that the time from interview decision to employee commencement is extended, it does pay dividends in the long run. Obtaining references from previous employers is a trusted recruitment tool and can give insight into a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their sickness absence history.

2 Check online presence:

With an abundance of social media platforms, these days you will be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t have an online presence in some form or other. Checking for an online presence is a quick and simple process, and may afford you human insight into a prospective employee. While there is an abundance of examples where employees have lost their jobs as a result of what they have said on social media, on a more positive note, it can also afford employers insight in cultural fit, or a person’s interests outside of work.

3 Adhere to legislation:

Recruitment law and legislation is forever being updated, therefore it is important that as a hiring manager you stay up to date with such changes. Certain positions will require a number of background checks to have been carried out before a candidate commences with your organisation. These checks can include disclosure barring checks (DBS) insurance checks, bankruptcy and financial searches, and verification of membership to any relevant professional bodies. Failing to adhere to such recruitment legislation can be costly to your business, and may mean you are operating illegally.

Of course the above tips rely on any business having stringent recruitment policies in place. In today’s working environments time is of the essence, and so affording the recruitment process the time it deserves can be difficult. It may therefore be worth investing in out sourced HR services. At Signature HR, we are experts in providing support for managing the employee life cycle, providing services ranging from pre-employment screening, engagement and pulse surveys through to exit interviews, supplying data which is integral to all key people decisions. For more information on how we can work alongside your own recruitment processes to ensure your hiring decision is the right one, click here.

What can we learn from the hiring practices of Facebook?

Recent revelations from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who announced that his biggest recruitment ‘decision maker’ is to ask himself not only if someone could work directly for him, but if he could work for them, caused a media storm.

Many recruiters, business owners and leaders were all quick to commend Zuckerberg on his powerful recruitment methodology, with a number calling for an industry wide ‘rethink’ of current recruitment practices. Many expected the recruitment industry to take heed of his trusted advice, and adopt their recruitment and subsequent HR polices accordingly.

But scratch below the surface and you begin to see some obvious holes that Zuckerberg’s statement has failed to acknowledge. Firstly, his comment only refers to staff who work directly underneath him. Zuckerberg’s policy, for example, wouldn’t work when recruiting graduates or other none executive positions as candidates here would not be working directly for Zuckerberg and visa versa.

Secondly Zuckerberg has overlooked the importance of effective team dynamics. For example, a marketing manager may wish to hire somebody very competent at a particular task but for whom they would never wish to work, or someone who might make a great employee, but would make a poor manager. In this instance it wouldn’t necessarily be a mistake to recruit that particular person. However following Zuckerberg’s strategy neither of these people, though competent, would be hired. Any successful team is comprised of a number of different personalities who possess a variety of complementary strengths. In an effective team, the whole should always be greater than the sum of its parts.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Zuckerberg fails to recognise the importance of pre- employment screening. While many businesses may be quick to disregard the role effective pre-employment checks can offer, there is no denying that, when done correctly, pre-employment checks remain one of the most effective ways methods of ensuring a recruitment decision is the right one.

While Mark Zuckerberg’s statement certainly grabbed headlines, and in many respects caused the recruitment industry to sit up and take note; perhaps proving to be a useful catalyst for many firms to review and update outdated recruitment processes, unfortunately what it did not do was provide much needed industry context. Zuckerberg has failed to understand that while his fail-safe question may yield results for the Facebook brand, the stark reality is that poor screening following a simplistic approach to recruitment, as offered by Zuckerberg can be very costly to employers to rectify.

Time and time again employers make hiring decisions based on gut instinct, or in the case of Mark Zuckerberg, one single question. However, overlooking the importance of pre-employment screening can be extremely costly to your business both in terms of money, and your reputation. Comprehensive pre-employment screening embodies much more than a formal ID check. When carried out efficiently it can verify a candidate’s qualification or membership with any required professional bodies.

Pre-employment screens can also conduct DBS screening (Disclosure and Barring Service), formally known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, to notify employers should a potential employee hold a criminal record or be the subject of any safeguarding issues. This is of particular importance should the position be public facing, or working closely with children or vulnerable adults.

At Signature HR we go beyond these expectations, working in close collaboration with our clients to offer a completely bespoke pre-employment screening service. We are able to conduct media and internet searches on candidates; for more specific job roles pre-employment screening may involve searching land registry and property searches. For higher level industry specific vacancies, employers may also require information on a candidate’s financial history, including any bankruptcy. This is particularly useful for any candidates entering a high-level position within a financial environment. After all, a successful hire cannot all boil down to one ‘magic’ question or to gut instinct.

The world of pre-employment, along with the recruitment industry it serves, is a complex one. But whatever recruitment strategy your business deploys, from Zuckerberg’s one question, to more formal recruitment methods, it is important to back it up both legally and professionally, ensuring your business continues to unearth talent.

So What Is The Secret To Recruitment?

Whether we are in a booming economic climate or dealing with a double dip recession having best practice recruitment could be the differential factor between business success and failure.



The recruitment conundrum of hiring and retaining the brightest talent is not diminished whatever the economic climate. Competitive advantage for any organisation will heavily revolve around the people who wok for you. They really need to be your strongest asset, your source of growth and success. Therefore the ability to attract, develop and retain top talent really should be part of your daily focus.


So how do you ensure that you achieve this?


Recruit individuals who have entrepreneurial spirit

Always look to recruit creative people, someone who recognizes an opportunity. These individuals generally have different DNA. They maybe more difficult to manage but there spirit and thinking could be a game changer for you.


Don’t think bums on seats:

A lot of companies panic when they have a vacancy; they rush decisions just so that they get someone on board. Make sure you take time to consider and individual’s personality and fit with your culture, you should interview multiple people 2 or 3 times before hiring. Take time to check their background, a bad hire is more damaging than having ‘no one”


Organisational Balance

It’s important that the structure of the organisation supports growth; too many chiefs and not enough Indians can cause stagnation whilst a manager with too many direct reports can be overrun.


Core Values

Skills and knowledge can be taught to do the job but you need people who possess a strong work ethic and motivation, there qualities are invaluable when times get demanding.



This works both ways you, engaged staff are more productive. The employee/employer relationship is no different that any other relationship in that it needs to be fed and worked at.

Social media in recruitment the screening dilemma!

Research has shown that 41% of employers/recruiters look at candidates online profiles where as only 15% of candidates think social media is a factor in the recruitment process.

Social media considerations for recruiters

This gives a fascinating insight as to how the world of recruitment is changing. However companies need to be aware of the not only the impact of reviewing social media profiles as of their pre-employment screening process but also how they monitor and review social media interaction of employees in the workplace. [Read more…]

We all tell a few porkies on our CVs, Don’t We?

So Scott Thompson resigns because he lied on his CV and we find out that Andy Coulson hasn’t been vetted properly, holding News International shares whilst being in the inner government circle influencing policy.

Both these stories bring into clear sight the importance of conducting in-depth employment screening. Each of these embarrassing situations could have been prevented if the organisations had have been more diligent before they commenced their roles. [Read more…]