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3 Ways to Avoid Bad Hires

Posted by Nolan Painting on June 25, 2015
Residential Painting Company

The original version of this story was published in the Fall 2014 edition of Professional Painting Contractor magazine. It is also featured on Sherwin Williams Business Tips page.

While you can’t be 100 percent certain that the person you are about to offer a job to is going to work out, there are many things that you must do to avoid major problems.

I have made so many mistakes in hiring people that I would be happy to share some of them. I don’t plan on making them again. Hopefully others will learn from them. After all, it’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes.


Don’t forget to check references

The hiring process can be well thought out but it is important not to skip any steps. We once skipped the reference check step and it turned into a nightmare. The employee gave us the wrong phone numbers and the administrative person in our company tried to make contact with this individual’s past employers.

After futile attempts, the admin person went on to the next step, which was conducting a criminal background check. The employee passed that and started to work for us.

On the first day on the job, the employee was involved in an accident. He filed for workers comp and it was discovered that this was his eighth claim! Later, when I eventually did track down his past employers, each one told me not to hire this person. It was too late… the workers comp claim had already hit!

Do make sure applicants have legal work status

We recently had an audit by Homeland Security. Three very valuable employees were not legal and had to be terminated. We had to hire a lawyer to defend ourselves and pay fines.

But the worst part was losing the people. These employees were with the company for over six years each. I had no idea they did not have legal work status. This was a very sad and emotional separation.

The government has a website called E-verify. It’s fast and easy and provides assurances that you will not hire an undocumented worker. The link is

Do check driving records

I can also learn something without making the mistake. We have been doing criminal background checks for the last dozen years. We recently included a driver’s license check.

Our insurance company tells us that if an employee has an accident while driving to a project in his or her own car, the employer is responsible for coverage. It’s called a “non-owned hired vehicle.”

This spring we started including a driving record search in our background checks. (We use a commercial background checking company. In our state, doing it through the motor vehicle department takes too long.)

In doing this, we discovered that there are lots of folks that drive like mad men. They get ticket after ticket and drive with suspended licenses. We decided not to hire a number of applicants this spring that had terrible driving records.

Bottom line: I am afraid that if an individual can’t stay out of trouble, he or she will probably be trouble for us.


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