Beware: Your Reputation Proceeds You

Your reputation is your best selling point unless it is damaged in which case it may cost you dearly.

Recently we spoke to an individual in regards to a position within our fair company.  We did the usual due diligence we go through for all prospective hires:

  • Background Check (Criminal, Credit)
  • Reference Check
  • Resume Verification

All came out good and we proceeded to make an offer to said individual.

This seems like an acceptable hiring practice as, after all, we are a consulting company in the Risk and Security space. However we typically take it one step further.  We see if any of our partners, competitors and employees knows of the individual.  Let’s be honest, we are in a very niche space within the IT field and most people in the space for longer than 2 years have bumped into us through the six degrees of separation method.

In fact we blogged once before about a similar experience HERE.

Well, much to our surprise, beyond our traditional checks, we received some pretty horrific references from an employee, a partner and a competitor with the first two being the most damaging.  When we confronted the prospective employee we asked for additional feedback and references that he could provide to help assuage the solicited negative reviews we received.  After an agreement to do so the prospective employee backed out of the process all together (a wise move in light of the allegations).

As for the reason we have added this little nugget of wisdom to our background checking methods?  We got stung once many years ago by a fellow who decided to disappear midstream during a project.  This disappearance caused us severe heartburn, a potential project and a relationship with an existing partner.  When this fine fellow went to a few potential companies looking for work those companies did the same sort of check and after receiving our feedback passed on the individual.  In another case a company put an different individual on notice from day one because of such feedback (turns out they booted him after the same issues we had came to fruition).

For the Individual, the moral of this story is that in our niche, and many others, your reputation will follow you around for years and perhaps decades.  In the internet age (well, technically the web age) this has become even more public and longer lasting.  So be careful in how you deal with companies, people and customers as your past may end up haunting you for a good long time.

If you are a company there is yet another moral to this story, don’t rely on simple background checks.  They aren’t enough and in the Security space a trust issue can hurt your reputation and your bottom line.  We live the social network age.  Use it to your advantage when getting the scoop on prospective employees.