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The News-Herald

Posted in Press Releases on 03/13/2009

by: Brandon Baker

Scott Doran could only shake his head in bafflement as he pored over the results of background checks he conducted for clients of BackTrack Inc. in Mentor.

“This one is applying for an airline mechanics job,” said Doran, the Mentor company’s criminal records manager. “He’s got a murder conviction.

“He admitted to the DUI, but I guess he forgot about that 35-years-in-jail thing.”

While that case might be a bit extreme, it’s exemplary of a trend Doran and others at BackTrack usually see during down periods in the economy — job applicants fabricating their credentials and resumes.

BackTrack co-owner Bob Gandee estimates that 40 percent of resumes carry some sort of lie in normal times. But now that unemployment has soared and job fairs attract thousands, the stakes are too high for some applicants not to stray from the truth.

For that reason, Backtrack has billed now as the time to take preventive measures.

“You’ve got to ferret these people out because you’re going to invest a lot of money in an individual,” Gandee said. “You’re going to give them the keys to the company’s office, expect them to turn in expense reports and to make a contribution to the company. If some guy is saying he’s got a degree in engineering and he doesn’t, how effective can he be?”

To make sure potential clients know the answer to that question, Gandee considered ponying up the cash to print up fake resumes, college degrees and references from a nondescript Web retailer. He would have hung them in the front of his Tyler Boulevard facility, but he thought, “I just can’t support these lying institutions.”

Armed with such toys and a sense of desperation,deceitful job seekers might also look to cover up exact dates of employment or exaggerate their salary or rank with a previous employer. But BackTrack also offers driving record checks, reference inspections and even credit report examinations.

Linda Gandee, Bob’s wife and co-owner, says most of the company’s screening services can be purchased for less than $100. Various packages are available for purchase.

The company screens about 200 applicants on most days. Bob says his national client base hovers around 700 companies in several industries.

“Some of them are shocked, and they’ll come back to us saying, ‘I cannot believe that sweet girl that we interviewed has a (firstdegree) felony,” Gandee said.

But BackTrack’s campaign is also aimed at discouraging untruths among job pursuers. Linda believes many of them are just too quick to assume what a future boss might be thinking.

“We’ve got clients who say, ‘It’s OK if they’ve got a bad credit report. That just means they need a job, and they’re willing to work hard,” Linda said. “Some of them will forgive a DUI. ‘OK, he got a DUI when he was 24 or 25. He’s now 45 and hasn’t had anything since, so I’m not going to hold that against him.’ ”

Similarly, Bob said some manufacturers don’t shun criminal records — they believe an edge is needed to work in some plant conditions.

“There’s good people hiring, and they’ll forgive a mistake,” Linda said. “Different companies have different rules.”