Canada: Candidate Background Check Guidelines by Province

As we know, background screenings of job candidates are standard operating procedures (‘SOP’) of any employer’s recruitment process, helping to identify the best-qualified candidates, while managing potential risks related to a poor hiring decision.

There are many background checks that are commonly permissible in Canada, and the type of checks an employer may consider running depend on the nature of the position for which the candidate is being considered. The most widely used are those that relate to the academic, employment, criminal, and credit history of candidates.

Employers are of course eager to learn as much about a candidate as is possible, however, they must tread most cautiously. An improperly conducted background check – or a properly conducted one where data obtained is improperly used or even disclosed – will expose an employer to liability. This liability may cost an employer an inordinate amount in terms of both cost and professional reputation for such carelessness.

It is therefore crucial, that any background check is conducted in accordance with applicable provincial laws. Federally regulated employers must guarantee compliance with federal law. Both privacy and human rights legislation, in relevance to provincial law, exists at the federal level as well.

Human rights legislation exists in each of the Canadian jurisdictions we are addressing, and to the extent that an employer obtaining information related to ‘protected grounds’, cannot consider this information to be a factor in the ultimate hiring decision.

What must be kept in mind here is that privacy statutes and obligations differ among Canadian provinces when it involves personal employee information. Both impose important and necessary limitations on background checking with respect to what checks are conducted, and how the information collected may be legally used.

Fortunately for us, Blake Cassels and Mondaq have kindly provided this handy interactive map revealing the notable features in each province regarding privacy and human rights as they relate to this article.

For your convenience, I have provided the notable features information for ‘British Columbia’ as follows:

An employer may, without a candidate’s consent, collect personal information, IF the collection is for the “purposes of establishing an employment relationship.” However, before doing so, the employer must notify the candidate. Human rights legislation prohibits an employer from refusing to hire a candidate on the grounds that he or she was convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence if that offence is “unrelated” to the employment.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 2 of 2)

In this last section of ‘Remember to ‘Market your Soft Skills,’ I am going to assume that you have taken some time to consider your soft skills seriously, and what you have to offer your current or next employer, in concert with your professional credentials.

As I mentioned previously, more import is placed on a candidate’s soft skills of late, and this is true for both potential employers directly and Staffing Agencies. In some cases, a candidate with less experience will get the position based on his or her personality, presentation, and effective communications demonstrated during the interview(s).

The downside of this situation is of course remuneration, as it would be adjusted due to the difference in the educational and professional requirements specified for the role. However, the fact is that when a job candidate does land a role, he or she will learn how to be effective, moving forward when the opportune time arrives or is proactively sought out.

I have certainly witnessed the hiring of staff based on personality, where others have had more experience to offer, and I am confident that my readers can also relate to this scenario.

Now, let’s get to the core of this article, and review potential ‘transferable skills’, which could look like:

  • Good time & project management skills;
  • Ability to influence others;
  • Team player attitude;
  • Excellent listening skills;
  • Easily builds strong relationships; and
  • Strong organizational skills.

For example, let’s say a Home Depot salesperson desperately wants to get into the hospitality industry but has no prior experience to offer. The skills of a successful salesperson would of course easily transfer over to the hospitality industry for obvious reasons, and therefore, I say go for it!

I realize this is a very basic and elementary example, but I am sure you get my point. I believe that it comes down to ‘how you present’ in an interview, as I have stated in my previous articles. Your ’unique personal skills and attributes’ may look like:

  • Goes above and beyond;
  • Has a positive attitude;
  • Strong work ethic;
  • Quick study; and
  • Creative & Self-directed.

Of course, we all have something different to bring to the table, as it were. How we communicate our given skills is what matters, and what makes the difference when under pressure in situations such as job interviews and performance reviews.

Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 1 of 2)

When conducting a job search, whether internally or externally, it is natural to be anxious about our ‘hard’ skills such as computer programs knowledge; graphics programs, advanced Excel formulas, the Net, firm portals, and confidence with using social media/networking tools, etc. All of these skills are a requirement of any job within the corporate world today and are valuable skills to have.

In our current job markets, employers do not seem to be solely probing for appropriate levels of education, certification, and technical skills, but rather ‘soft skills’ which will immediately engage the person interviewing you, as well as the various groups you will be working with once on board.

Companies that are presently advertising positions are requesting much more than pre-recession, as they have deep considerations around employee retention, economic conditions, and the apprehensive anticipation of losing valuable employees, once the economy is on a better footing, and has stabilized.

It is a logical assumption that some firms could lose staff as the economy improves, as opportunities from competitors present themselves, and offers of higher compensation and benefits hold an obvious attraction, most definitely if the employee is feeling ‘disengaged’ from their current employer.

Putting aside your hard skills and academic background, for now, consider the soft skills you have to bring to the table. Target what you recognize as your ‘transferable’ and ‘unique personal soft skills’, which will work to your advantage as you continue on your job search journey.

Are these skills highlighted within the body of your Cap Profile and Resume, and noted in all of your cover letters? If not, make sure they are going forward, as it will stimulate positive outcomes for you.

I would urge you to speak with your professional references to learn if they are including your distinctive and valued soft skills in their referral communications. Where appropriate, ask them to please include these details on a go forward basis.

 

Please continue reading Part 2 of 2 here, Thank You!

Managing and Preventing Employee Fraud (Part 1 of 2)

Industries allocate billions of dollars each year to employee fraud, and no sector seems to be exempt from such frauds. It is vital to be aware of the potential for employee wrongdoings in your firm and to take steps to avoid them by isolating opportunities, and ensuring your internal controls are designed to deliver absolute maximum protection.

The most common types of employee fraud are:

  • Submitting fictitious invoices;
  • Paying personal expenses with firm funds;
  • Theft of receipts or cash on hand;
  • Payroll or expense compensation fraud; and
  • Altering or forging cheques.

These thefts often go undetected for periods between 8 and 36 months. Most often, employees who steal money work alone; and apparently, many of these employees have been with the firm for 3 years or longer.

HOW CAN YOU BEST MANAGE IT?

The best way to deal with employee theft is to keep it from happening in the first place. Doing so requires implementing sound internal controls, which might include:

Risk Assessment
Examine your firm’s policies, procedures, and processes for any weaknesses within the system at intervals for safeguarding integrity and ethics. Conduct a risk assessment every 2 years, or when there is a significant system modification or staff change (such as a new billing clerk).

Separation of Employee Duties
Avoid having just one employee in charge of purchasing and approving or adding vendors. Although it may be difficult to assign duties among several employees in smaller firms, it is imperative that you implement internal controls that let employees know they are likely to be caught if they try to steal.

In addition, cheques with invoices ought to be given to the proper party for approval and sign off. Likewise, if you are using an electronic bill payment system, only owner-partners should be authorized to approve payments.

Monitoring Employee Behavior
Look for telltale signs that an employee is involved with or considering fraud. For instance, an employee who never goes on vacation or takes a day off may not want another employee to have access to his or her files. To combat this behavior, implement a requirement that all employees take scheduled vacations, and cross-train staff members on each other’s duties and responsibilities…….

Please enjoy reading the balance of this article here. Thanks!


Supporting Article Research Sources: Ostrow, Reisin, Berk & Abrams Ltd., Mondaq.com

Managing and Preventing Employee Fraud (Part 2 of 2)

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS?

Revisit Your Hiring Process

First and foremost, criminal record checks should be a legal hiring requirement for all new hires as well as your current employees. However, keep in mind that nearly two-thirds of offenders are not prosecuted; therefore, their next employer may be unable to learn of their previous offenses.

It would also be prudent to undertake a thorough reference checking process, and if legally appropriate, include credit checks as well.

Contemplate Surprise Audits and Training

Employees should know that impromptu audits are likely to occur, however, they should not know what data will be under review. These audits do not need to be top-to-bottom reviews of the firm’s finances; instead, they need to target specific areas.

Additionally, overlapping financial records should be reconciled sporadically. As an example, compare receipts that are recorded in the billing system to revenues recorded in the accounting system, then cross-check those numbers with your bank deposits. Make certain someone other than the employee who prepares the records conducts the reconciliation.

Lastly, you may want to consider restricting employee computer access to only those computers, programs, and the electronic data required to perform their jobs efficiently.

Educate your staff about what constitutes fraudulent, illegal and unethical actions; their role in preventing and deterring fraud; and how to recognize the signs of prohibited behavior. Doing so will make them more likely to note suspicious behavior, and weaken their ability to defend themselves if they are caught in the act of defrauding the firm.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Mondaq.com, Ostrow, Reisin, Berk & Abrams Ltd.

Top 10 Professions Most Desired by Canada ~ Express Entry Program

Seriously contemplating moving to Canada? If so, I have some good news to share with you!

If you have expertise in one of the most desired career categories, your move just might be fast-tracked – read on to learn more!

If the recent upset victory for President-Elect Donald Trump has you daydreaming of leaving the U.S. and moving to Canada, you may be in luck.

Canada is, in fact, looking for a few skilled men and women (actually, thousands of them).

Canada’s fast-track system for immigration called Express Entry is perhaps the quickest way for skilled workers to transition into a role in this country. The Canadian government has committed to an application processing time of 6 months in the vast majority of cases.

All applicants for Express Entry are scored based on several influences including their professional skills, work history, language ability, and education, and are then ranked against other applicants. Those in the top of the rankings are then invited to become permanent residents.

Following the launch of the Express Entry Program last year, our government reports that more than 31,000+ invitations to apply for permanent residence have been issued to a diverse range of highly skilled immigrants.

According to our government, as of January 3, 2016, the following rather surprising occupations are most frequently invited to apply for permanent residency in Canada:

  1. Food Service Supervisors
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 2,356
    Percent of invited applicants: 7.6%
  2. Cooks
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 2,295
    Percent of invited applicants: 7.4%
  3. Information Systems Analysts & Consultants
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 1,255
    Percent of invited applicants: 4%
  4. Software Engineers
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 940
    Percent of invited applicants: 3%
  5. Computer Programmers & Interactive Media Developers
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 935
    Percent of invited applicants: 3%
  6. University Professors & Lecturers
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 745
    Percent of invited applicants: 2.4%
  7. Retail Sales Supervisors
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 669
    Percent of invited applicants: 2.2%
  8. Graphic Designers & Illustrators
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 550
    Percent of invited applicants: 1.8%
  9. Financial Auditors & Accountants
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 494
    Percent of invited applicants: 1.6%
  10. Financial & Investment Analysts
    Successful Express Entry applicants: 446
    Percent of invited applicants: 1.4%

 

For your information and convenience, I attach the following video from Citizenship and Immigration Canada on how the Express Entry program and potential candidate selection process work.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Business Insider, Government of Canada

Pre-Employment Credit Checks ~ 3 Points to Remember

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If you have been unemployed for some time and have struggled to pay your bills as a result, then those missed payments or defaults would appear on your credit report. The question then becomes could those negative marks stop you from successfully landing another job?

Some employers check job applicants’ credit reports as a part of their pre-employment background check protocol, however, this practice is not universal. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a survey back in 2012 that concluded that roughly one-third of the U.S. employers surveyed conduct credit checks on some employees, and 13% conduct credit checks on all employees.

The experts say pre-employment credit checks are less common in Canada. However, if you are applying for employment within the federal government of Canada, you should know that credit checks are actually mandatory now for all levels of security clearance due to the Standard on Security Screening that came into force on October 20, 2014.

“Security screening is a fundamental practice that establishes and maintains a foundation of trust within government, between the Canadian government and its citizens, and between Canada and other countries,” says Lisa Murphy, Media Relations, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat for the Government of Canada.

“The overall assessment of reliability considers an individual’s trustworthiness in the protection of government assets, information, and facilities.”

Whether applying for a public or private-sector job, here are three important points that you want to be aware of with respect to pre-employment credit checks.

  1. Employers have to get your permission first

Employers – whether or not a government entity, or a private company — should receive your written consent before they check your credit. If an employer requests permission to view your credit report, which raises considerations, Henry Goldbeck, President of Goldbeck Recruiting in Vancouver, suggests asking your hiring contact what they are looking for in a credit report.

If they are concerned about defaults or multiple late payments, and you missed one payment years ago, you may well have nothing to worry about.

However, if the issues are more serious, Mr. Goldbeck says it’s better to address them proactively than wait for the employer to bring it up.

In my humble opinion, the lesson here is to address any issues up front, and not give a prospective employer the opportunity to dig even further. In addition to taking action first, your proactive approach on the matter will very likely be respected and appreciated.

“If you recognize that the report will have negative information, the employer may just decline to move forward with your hire, and not give you the opportunity to present your case.”

Alternately, they may conclude that you were hiding something, which of course automatically puts you on the defensive when you are endeavoring to present your case.

Ms. Murphy advised that those applying for security clearance with the government would get the chance to respond to negative information on a credit report before a hiring decision was finalized.

  1. Pre-employment credit checks do not lower your credit score

Hard inquiries on your credit report (for instance, when you apply for an auto loan or a mortgage) immediately, but temporarily lower your credit score, however, pre-employment credit checks do not do so.

“Credit checks conducted for the purpose of security screening are masked so that a negative effect does not show up on the individual’s credit bureau file,” Ms. Murphy said.

  1. Credit checks are only one facet of the hiring process

Fortunately, credit checks are only one factor that prospective employers take into account.

“This is one part of a comprehensive assessment of information collected to determine reliability and trustworthiness,” Ms. Murphy said. The very fact that an employer is requesting a credit check may even be a positive indicator.”

“Typically, they are performing the credit check as one of the last hiring phases, which suggests they have decided they want to hire you,” Mr. Goldbeck said.

 

Supporting Article Research Sources: Credit Cards Canada

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