Three Things to Consider During an Employee Background Check

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Looking to hire a new employee? You’ve reviewed countless resumes, asked tough questions during the interview process, and called numerous references. Once your applicant pool is narrowed down, perhaps you should consider conducting a little due diligence to better evaluate your top candidates. Background screening is quickly becoming a simple, yet effective way to ensure you make informed hiring decisions.

Three Things to Consider During an Employee Background Check

Criminal and Civil Records. Will the potential hire have access to the company’s financial information? Reviewing a potential hire’s criminal and civil record is an inexpensive way to identify potential vulnerabilities. A criminal conviction for fraud or a previous bankruptcy filing may be an important predictor for a job candidate’s suitability to handle company finances.

Social Media Presence. We all know social media has changed the way businesses connect with consumers, but have you considered its role in the job search process? From their favorite sports team to how they spend their free time, social media is one of the easiest ways to learn more about potential hires. While a candidate’s social media presence should not be used to make final employment decisions, a thorough screening can help identify any offensive material or objectionable behaviors before the candidate is hired.

Verification of Education, Licensure. Imagine finding out your newly hired attorney is no longer licensed to practice or that your new hire didn’t really earn a degree in accounting. In most cases, education verification is a simple and straightforward process. By ensuring potential hires have the required educational background and licensing, companies can help minimize the risk for not conducting pre-employment background checks.

Background screening is an effective way to help companies make informed decisions, and inVeritas can help you ensure your potential hire is a good fit for the position. We provide customized research suited to meet your specific needs. Contact ksullivan@inveritasinfo.com for guidance on how to ensure you are prepared to make an informed hiring decision.

inVeritas Inside the Capitol

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Last Monday marked the deadline for the House to fill in any shell legislation. The Senate was not bound by the same restriction, however, and amendments remained steady throughout last week. The legislature is expected to consider the governor’s proposed $5.2 billion budget for fiscal 2016 by the end of this week. They are also expected to complete work on legislation complementing Gov. Hutchinson’s $32 million plan to curb prison crowding, along with measures to improve the state’s workforce development program, to restore capital-gains tax cuts, and to change the size and eligibility for lottery-financed scholarships. House Speaker Jeremy Gillam said he expects to wrap up the session by the end of the month.

Arkansas Health Care Reform Task Force

The Arkansas Health Care Reform Legislative Task Force announced that it will present its alternatives to the private option to Gov. Hutchinson by December 15. The task force will hire a consulting group to assist with the report, with a report from the chosen consultant due October 1. The task force plans to release an RFP from consulting groups this week and have it out for bid before hiring a consultant in mid-May. Chairman Jim Hendren said the task force would consider where the state’s Medicaid and private options are right now, where the task force wants them to be and actions necessary to get them there. The task force plans to meet once a week for the remainder of the session and then at least once a month for the rest of the year.

Legislative Pay Raises

The Independent Citizens Commission voted to adopt its review of salary increases for Arkansas’ legislators, constitutional officers and judges. The biggest pay raise under the plan would be for House and Senate members, who would see their salaries increase from $15,869 a year to $39,400. Salaries for the House speaker and Senate president would increase from $17,771 to $45,000. The panel’s vote also raises pay for all constitutional officers but the lieutenant governor. The governor’s pay would increase from $87,759 a year to $141,000, while the attorney general’s pay would rise from $73,132 to $130,000. The panel is calling for more modest raises for the state’s judges, including members of the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The raises are expected to cost the state about $5 million.

State Treasurer Violation

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge concluded her investigation into circumstances where Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan hired his cousin in violation of state law. Milligan paid a $1,000 fine and repaid nearly $7,000 in salary received by his cousin, who improperly held a job in his office for about a month.

Session Highlights

Arkansas lawmakers moved last week to restore a 2013 capital gains tax break. The House Revenue and Taxation Committee endorsed a proposal to raise the percentage of a capital gain that is exempt from the state income tax. The proposal raises the exemption to 45% this year and back to 50% on July 1, 2016. It also restores an exemption for capital gains of more than $10 million. The bill heads to the full House, where more than half the members have signed on as co-sponsors. Committee Chairman Joe Jett said his committee was holding off on considering other tax cut proposals as legislative leaders craft the bill detailing the state’s $5.2 billion budget for the coming year. Other proposed tax breaks include exemptions benefiting veterans and farmers.

The Arkansas Legislature announced it would not refer any proposed constitutional amendments to voters for the ballot in the 2016 general election. Representatives and senators were unable to reach a consensus on which of 41 proposed constitutional amendments to refer to voters. This would be the first time since 1971 that lawmakers meeting in regular session did not refer any proposed amendments to voters.

inVeritas Inside the Capitol

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Last Monday marked the deadline for filing legislation with the majority of the 462 bills being filed as shells. Per new House rules, the deadline for amending shell legislation is Monday, March 16. Over the course of the 90th General Assembly, 1,007 House bills and 1,055 Senate bills were filed for a total of 2,105 bills. In comparison, 2,492 were filed in 2013 and 2,236 bills were filed in 2011.

On Wednesday, the House voted 74-11 on a bill that would prohibit the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange until a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on insurance subsidies is issued.

The Senate approved a bill to modify the qualifications of a person to serve as state education commissioner in order to qualify former Sen. Johnny Key. Gov. Asa Hutchinson nominated Key to the post on March 2.

The Senate approved legislation that would allow a federal candidate to run for more than one federal office at the same time. Sen. Bart Hester told the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee that he had considered U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton when thinking about the bill but did not consult with Cotton. The bill now heads to the House. Sen. Cotton and 46 other Senate Republicans drew fire last week after sending a letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding negotiations between the United States and Iran on nuclear weapons. The letter drew complaints from President Barack Obama and other Democrats, saying the letter undercut the President’s ability to negotiate with foreign countries.

The 16-member Arkansas Health Care Reform Legislative Task Force met for the first time last week. The task force is split nearly evenly between legislators who voted for and against the Medicaid private option. Two of the task force’s members voted against creating the panel itself. Sen. Jim Hendren, who opposed the private option, and Rep. Charlie Collins, who supported it, were elected to serve as chairmen. A private option opponent, Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, and a supporter, Rep. Reginald Murdock, were elected vice chairmen.

On Friday, the House Committee on State Agencies & Governmental Affairs advanced five proposals to a joint committee that will consider which three amendments will be placed on the 2016 ballot. One proposal would reinstate the voter ID requirement that the state Supreme Court found unconstitutional in October. Other forwarded proposals would allow a candidate who is unopposed to take office without appearing on the ballot and another would roll back a requirement that prevents people convicted of certain crimes from holding elected office. Legislators also endorsed a proposal to end the election of state Supreme Court justices and instead let the governor appoint them. On Thursday, the same committee in the Senate referred about a dozen proposals to the joint committee.

inVeritas involved: City Year Little Rock 10th Anniversary

Friday, March 13th, 2015

This year, City Year Little Rock is celebrating ten years of service to Little Rock schools. To commemorate this special occasion, City Year members will honor President Bill Clinton with the Seventh Generation Award at the 10th Anniversary Red Jacket Ball on Thursday, June 4. At the event, City Year members, guests, and honorees will have the opportunity to reflect on their achievements over the last decade.

Tiffany Dabbs, inVeritas Director of Operations, became involved with City Year in 2012 while working as events coordinator for Gov. and Mrs. Mike Beebe at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. Tiffany assisted with several events hosted by and honoring City Year Members and served on the fundraising committee. That same year, the Governor and First Lady were honored at the annual Red Jacket Ball. The Beebes brought tears to the eyes of attendees during their heartfelt acceptance speech.

“I will never forget the passion the City Year members showed on stage during their performance that rainy night. I was and continue to be moved by the determination the members demonstrate as they are work to change students’ lives by helping them stay in school and gain self-respect, said Tiffany.”

Tiffany will serve on the fundraising committee again in 2015. Past honorees of City Year include:

Gert Clark (2006)

The Honorable Jim Daly (2007)

Pat Lile (2008)

The Honorable Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty (2009)

Judy K. Tenenbaum (2010)

Bruce T. Moore (2011)

The Honorable Mike and Ginger Beebe (2012)

Representative Darrin Williams (2013)

Ed Drilling (2014)

About City Year

With 26 national and three international affiliates, City Year takes a nationwide approach to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need, and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide. In doing so, City Year members are helping to increase graduation rates across the country, while changing the lives of students they serve. During the 2013-2014 school year:

663 students were served through targeted intervention by City Year Little Rock.

72,730 hours were served by City Year Little Rock AmeriCorps members.

74% of students tutored by a City Year Corps Member increased their scores on literacy assessments.

77% of students tutored by City Year increased their scores on state standardized math assessments.

96% of teachers agree or strongly agree that City Year Corps members increase students’ active engagement in learning.

The numbers alone speak volumes to the dedication and involvement of City Year members. The impact the members have on our City should never go unnoticed. If you see a City Year Corp member (in their Red Jackets!), thank them for their mentorship to our students.

inVeritas is proud of Tiffany’s service to Little Rock schools and students. To learn more about City Year Little Rock, visit http://www.cityyear.org/littlerock

If you are interested in sponsoring the Red Jacket Ball, please contact Tiffany Dabbs at 870.830.5210 or by email at tdabbs@inveritasinfo.com

5 PR Strategies that Work

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

by Nathan Green, Senior Associate, inVeritas

In the digital media age, there are numerous avenues to get noticed. Whether your goal is to spread a particular message, launch your product, promote your event, or market your company, having a good PR strategy is crucial to reach your target audience. Some companies hire experienced agencies to guide them and others have great in-house public relations experts. Either way, proper planning and implementation is the key to a winning strategy. Below are five proven PR strategies for businesses and professionals.

1. Blogging. Notice what we’re doing right now? We are a strategic communications firm writing about how to effectively implement PR. Novel concept, right? This is exactly what companies should be doing to promote their activities. Write an article or blog about what you do well, and that will help you sell it.

2. Get to know your local press. If you had a story to pitch, could you pick up the phone and pitch it to a local reporter you know? If the answer is no, what strategy would you use to place a story? Sending press releases blindly to a newspaper or TV news desk that doesn’t know you may risk the story getting lost in the shuffle. A good way to build these types of relationships is to call and introduce yourself, schedule a meeting so they can learn about you and your company, or visit with them at events. Whatever strategy you choose, having a press contact will be invaluable when you have a story to place or event to promote.

3. Earned Media. Launching a new product or service, hosting a conference, or sponsoring a community event? Whatever you’re doing, make sure you are getting the credit you deserve. Self-promotion is essential to ensure you are being recognized in the press. Send press releases, call your press contact, post photos and ask your business partners and associates to share your message on social media. Cross promote with other brands to ensure your message is being heard. If you don’t pitch it, you won’t get covered.

4. Social Media. The cheapest and easiest way to promote your company’s activities is through social media. Your company should be involved on the platform that makes the most sense for your brand, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or YouTube. Post pictures, videos, links to your website, blogs, and interesting articles. Be a resource for others. For a great article on the top 5 mistakes businesses make on social media, check out last week’s blog post.

5. Have a Crisis PR Plan. What happens in the event of a major crisis and your company is receiving negative press coverage? Who handles the press calls? Who is authorized to answer questions? A botched response could be devastating to your image and hurt your bottom line. Companies should be proactive instead of reactive. A good way prepare for this is by having a crisis communications/management plan. The plan should outline the procedures to follow in the event of a crisis, designating specific individuals to respond to the crisis and outlining procedures to be followed company-wide. This proactive approach will serve a company well in the event a crisis occurs.

A strong communications and public relations operation is integral to success in every arena and every sector. inVeritas can help you with every stage of your communications needs, from crisis management to message development. We provide custom-designed branding and marketing campaigns, digital media strategy, design and implementation, crisis management, rapid response, press relations, meeting preparation, and speech writing.

Contact ngreen@inveritasinfo.com for guidance on how to develop the best strategy for your company.