Articles & Blog

Shawn Rucks

Shawn Rucks

There are some jobs that directly impact humanity in a big way. Doctors, firefighters, law enforcement, military — these individuals carry a huge weight with their day-to-day work.

The majority of us don’t live in that reality. Baristas, drug store clerks, garbage collectors, and maintenance people don’t claim they’re changing the world. Instead they do their jobs and go home at the end of the day to no fanfare.

Still, I challenge you to think of the most influential professionals you come across a daily basis. I’d wager some of them perform seemingly-mundane tasks, but leave a lasting impression.

Maybe a barista knows your order by heart, or a drug store clerk makes you feel like a million bucks every time you pick up your prescription. Your neighborhood garbage collectors may keep your front yard in perfect order while your maintenance person saves you money by catching problems early.

My point is that within every job is an ability to be great. It’s a mentality we’ve adopted here at deverus and one you can adopt within your business.

The key is finding your purpose at every level: within your organization, each department, and as individuals.

Your Organization

At deverus, our purpose is to engage in everything we do with an eye toward improving client and end user experience. If we create what we genuinely believe to be the best possible software solution but it doesn’t solve a problem for our clients, we’ve failed.

If you are a CEO, know that the health of your organizational purpose will directly impact the health of your business. Team member morale will rise if they believe their work has meaning.

Set your overall purpose, communicate it, and reinforce it when you see it being implemented. Your business will be much better for it.

Your Departments

Each of our deverus departments understands its role within the organization. Whether it’s Solutions, User Success, User Experience, or Software Development, there is a clearly-defined purpose that runs much deeper than ever before.

In recent years, we have dug into the “why” behind the “what.” “Good enough” is no longer good enough. Each of our departments understands that and carries its own role.

Our User Experience team, for example, is tasked with getting to know our clients so our software best serves them. Our User Success team troubleshoots client issues to effectively diagnose and communicate to other departments.

Each department within your business should understand why it is critical to the whole and how it works with other departments. This will drive them to give their best effort, knowing they are working toward a larger goal.

Individuals

When a clear purpose is set for your organization and each department, individuals have the opportunity to thrive.

Clearly-defined goals at deverus allow our team members to set their day-to-day purposes. Talk to any of them and they will passionately tell you why they do what they do.

We develop and maintain background check software for a living, which isn’t the glamorous work of doctors or firefighters. Still, we know our software makes lives easier. We know that because we’ve made it a part of our purpose.

Having that purpose as an organization and within each department will help each and every team member recognize why he or she is critical to your business.

Believe me when I say: the power is in the purpose.

Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

What Glassdoor Means to Employers

Glassdoor is an employer review site with job boards, resume posting, and other tools to connect employers and employees. Users can log onto the site and post reviews of their employers to help job seekers better understand companies and what it’s like to work there. Glassdoor has a rating system for employers based on an average of employee reviews. The folks at Glassdoor release an annual Employees’ Choice Awards list of the best employers. The site uses advanced algorithms to weed out fake reviews to ensure high-quality and accurate data collection. The company says they reject almost one in five reviews due to inaccuracies or fake profiles. Small companies have slightly different rules for posting than large organizations to help protect the identities of the reviewer.

What does this all mean for employers? Like Yelp, Amazon, or other sites with customer reviews, Glassdoor provides a lot of information (good and bad) to potential hires. Managing your brand as an employer is a crucial part of attracting and retaining the top talent you need for your organization. Your potential hires can access not only company information and salaries, but also work-life balance reports, CEO/executive pay, workplace culture, and much more. Recent studies including one done by Glassdoor UK show that Glassdoor is one of the most trusted places to go for information on a potential employer. Ignore them at your own peril!

In 2010, Glassdoor launched a new program aimed at employers, “Enhanced Employer Profiles.” Employers can create their own accounts to help them manage their Glassdoor profiles to attract the best talent. You can post information about your company, executive bios, classifieds, referral links, and social media pages. Some employers even post sample interview questions and offer tips on landing your next dream job at their offices. Glassdoor isn’t only being used by employees and job seekers, though. It’s become a popular site to visit to learn more about potential new clients or suppliers. It’s a great resource to check up on a company and how they rate according to their employees.

Glassdoor isn’t something you can ignore as an employer. Managing your reputation and attracting the best people to your organization is a year-round job. While Glassdoor makes it easy for employers and employees to connect, the effect of bad reviews and poor employee relations can be devastating for a hiring firm. Make sure you put some time into your Glassdoor profile and consider subscribing to their Enhanced Employee Profiles to get the most out of your Glassdoor experience. Your potential hires are probably checking you out on Glassdoor. It’s worth your time and effort to generate a good profile there to help you attract and retain the best possible employees for your team. Glassdoor is growing quickly and has become one of the most trusted places online to learn about companies and their corporate culture. The company expanded to markets around the world including the UK, Germany, Brazil, and many more. You can’t afford to ignore the impact of Glassdoor and other employer review sites.

Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

What's your company culture

The other day I had an interview with a Head of Marketing applicant who asked, “What’s your company culture?” I was like, “Wow, I’m glad you asked.” But reason for being glad was because we’ve spent so much time focusing on “company culture”. This is absolutely new because years ago we didn’t exhaust days and weeks answering internal cultural surveys, having open discussions, even debates, and eventually pasting them on our walls and having training sessions and finally weed out questions for new applicants based on our cultural values. But this is a good thing.

Company culture, What is it? Why is it important to you?

First, I’ll give you the traditional line of thinking on company culture, then we’ll detail some of the famous, brave new company cultures, finally I’ll speak about what “company culture” means to deverus.

Traditionally Speaking

According to a Google search, “Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.”

Company culture is according to Forbes, “The vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits, that make up a company's behaviors and values.”

Brave New Cultures

There are multiple genres of company culture. Take Apple for example. Because Apple must be so secretive about upcoming products, one of their top values is security. The measures it takes to protect its creative and intellectual environment is unparalleled. But they also foster a culture where there’s an idea that you are part of something much bigger than yourself, that you are making a real difference in the world. So from this you get this almost religious level of commitment to make great things. And they ultimately do!

Google is a very team-oriented company that exists solely as a team unit. Each individual unit is important to the grand missions of Google. The office café and encouragement to befriend your coworkers really speaks to the company “culture”. They also say they hire really smart people based on analytics so there’s a sense of superiority and exclusion. They also hire a ton of people from many countries so they als need to have a culture of diversity and openness.

Microsoft’s culture has made a dramatic shift from the days of Bill and Steve where it was defined by an extreme autocracy and a fixed mindset, where a few superstars ran the show and recently moved to a growth mindset based on openness, collaboration, and creating a dialogue with employees to foster bottom up ideas and execution. That’s a very different world from the past, but one that is absolutely necessary to win the talent war by creating a place where top talent believes they can belong and thrive.

Then there’s Amazon’s culture where according to a New York Times article, Amazon demands that employees conform to their vision of productivity through “a unique system of management, extreme data focus, and leadership reinforcement where there are a group of “like-minded people” who drive the business and culture.

What about Zappos? This is an interesting one because they are actually involved in kind of social experiment around Holacracy, which replaces the traditional management hierarchy with a new peer-to-peer “operating system” that increases transparency, accountability, and organizational agility. So they say. Just read their Glass Door Reviews to see how it’s working out. But the point is they believe in culture and their people so much they are willing to try a brave new management style that gives true control and autonomy to their employees while still maintaining Zappos’ cultural values they feel serve their employees and clients best.

What does company culture mean to deverus?

For deverus, culture is everything about our company. It’s a state of mind, it’s how we approach the marketplace, our customers and ourselves. It’s a smile on our face, jumping out of bed because we can’t wait to get to work, it’s going above and beyond because you love it. And on another level, it’s putting a stake in the ground about what are values are and then doing our best to walk the walk. For us Belonging, Accountability, Leaning, Empowerment, Empathy and Passion drive deverus to succeed on our mission to create a hiring experience that doesn't suck. We constantly use these values to check ourselves daily, weekly and quarterly to make sure we are creating the culture we all agreed we wanted to be a part of.

Whatever values you come up with, make sure they are your own personal values because authenticity is key in a functional company culture. Employees look to leadership to demonstrate those values and if you’ve dedicated your culture to something you really don’t believe in, it will come right through and not only render your cultural values meaningless but serve to show you as a hypocrite and create an unsafe workplace.

Once you have your core company culture establish, realize your culture is not for everyone. Be selective and make sure the people you hire understand your cultural values up-front. Through the right line of questioning you can ask them to demonstrate through past behavior that they also believe in the values that make up your culture. Get that right and you will maintain the culture you’ve worked hard to create and maintain.

Sunday, 09 October 2016 00:00

Uptime and AWS Migration

For background check companies like many other technology related businesses, uptime is everything. At deverus we have over 35,000 businesses including many Fortune and 100 and 500 companies using our services everyday and it’s critical that we keep to the lights on to ensure that all background checks are processed without a hitch.

Before Amazon Web Service we had invested over $700,000 in dual collocation facilities, on in Austin, Texas and the other in Dallas, using the latest server technology. Our implementation took months and after we finished, we really thought when it came to uptime and security we were bullet proof.

But several months into it we were still experiencing outages and a few times our fail-safe failover system was failing to failover! So all the money we invested in mirroring our technology in different locations did not pan out. And even when it was successful, we were still having load balancing issues as well problems spinning the second location without data loss.

Then, back in February, a few months after we were up and going, we got hit with one of the most severe DDOS attacks that had been experienced in the US. Our system and intermittent outages for days and our customers were devastated.

In July. we finally made our move to AWS. It was not painless. It took us more than 6 months and probably another $700,000 in resource expenditure to prepare our legacy system for the AWS platform. While moving on there were many challenges with integrations, customizations, and overall performance. But once we moved on, we normalized everything and started seeing immediate improvements in performance and stability.

We’ve now been on AWS for over 5 months and we’ve had 100% uptime!! In addition, we had counted more than 380 interruptions in services throughout all our customers and to-date, we’ve had none. In addition, we’ve increased our total system performance 4X prior to the move.

The only downside is costs. Our costs have risen tremendously to almost 10X what we were paying on a colo. That said, we were really struggling with very frustrated customers given our performance before AWS. So every month when I get the AWS bill I cringe for a moment, then I think about the 100% uptime which has not only made our customers very happy, but it’s also allowed us to divert precious resources to focu on developing instead of maintaining infrastructure. And after having gone through the perils of downtime and slow system performance, I say the cost of 100% uptime is priceless.

Sunday, 16 October 2016 00:00

What’s Your User’s Experience

When it comes to background checks companies, making HR happy, closing deals and retaining customers, we continue to hear the usual drivers like speed to hire, regulatory compliance, price and great customer support. But today, as you know, competition is fierce, our services now are a commodity, and these drivers are givens, a baseline to land and retain valuable customers.

Design Matters

And based on our research and feedback, we are hearing another future driver. Before I say what it is, I want to state that we don’t currently see this as a looming threat like legislation or compliance, but certainly a competitive advantage that a few background check companies and many applicant tracking and HRMS systems are capitalizing on today.

This new trend we are seeing is and it sounds simple is an improved user experience design for candidates, hiring managers, and for even your employees.

When we say user experience design or UX as it’s called, we mean the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.

We Believe

Yes, we believe we can make the background check process pleasurable for candidate and the hiring manager! In fact, deverus’ mission today is creating a background check experience that doesn’t suck!

To put it into context, some argue that great companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Starbucks, (yes Starbucks, they have more than 4 million mobile wallet payments per week) And they are successful because they’ve used great UX as a competitive advantage. They’ve made the User Experience matter. Do you think the fact that your 4 year old can navigate a smart phone, ipad, better than you is by accident? No, they’ve made it so simple, so easy to use that anybody can pick it up. That’s the essence of UX design.

Today, everyone, not just children know good design and bad design when they see it, when they use it. You know a good experience and a bad experience when you use something. So why should the background check process by any different for candidates, for your customers, for you?

The Big Shift

The big shift is that the experience is driving the technology, not the technology driving the experience, and if technology is driving it, it won’t be for long because the user will find something better, It’s just a google search away, and it’s already out there now.

But what you have to realize is that this is a good thing for all of us even in background check business because the right user experience should make things more efficient, faster, easier and even fun to use. If you really listen to your user, this translates to money saved, better customer retention, and even happier employees.

So in addition to making sure our customers can compete on the usual drivers, this is where deverus is going. We want to create the best user experience in the background check industry to help our customers compete with the best user experience not only in our market but up against ATS’s and HRMS’ so when that ATS tries to get the customer to switch, the Hiring manager says “no thank you, we really like our background check experience with our current provider!”

Simple

If you are an employer, you might benefit from the ease and accessibility of mobile background checks. With the proliferation of smartphones and the progress in app design, there are many options for mobile background checks right at your fingertips. These apps make it simple, affordable, and convenient to run background checks on clients, tenants, new employees, and anyone you need to vet using a background check. With new legislation regarding privacy and the growing power of Big Data analytics, it’s never been better to rely on a mobile background check provider. They make sure you follow all the relevant privacy and information collection laws without sacrificing time or the quality of the reports.

Convenient

There’s an obvious benefit to doing your searches on mobile: convenience. If you are interviewing a potential hire away from your desk, you’re often left with two choices: stop the process to give yourself time to do the appropriate searches, or proceed without doing a search at all. Why derail your efforts to find quality talent for your team? With mobile background checks, you can perform all your necessary due diligence without missing a beat. Just open up the app, fill out the information, and let the magic happen! These affordable and accessible tools make it so easy to get your hands on quality background checks with all the public records and personal information you need to make good decisions.

Compliant

It’s important to find the right mobile background check provider for your intended use. Under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), you must use the right kind of background check service allowed under the law. This legislation protects tenants, employees, candidates, borrowers, and people seeking financial services such as insurance. Many of the popular mobile background search apps such as BeenVerified do not allow any use for business purposes (hiring, leasing, approving credit, etc.) Make sure you find the right type of background check app to use for your requirements and individual situation. Steer clear of legal trouble and check out the Terms and Conditions of your preferred mobile background check service to make sure you comply with the most recent consumer protection laws in the US.

Powerful

Mobile background checks are a powerful tool for employers to run quick searches on potential hires. Save time and money with the convenience and ease of a mobile app. The best providers offer access to millions of public records without the need for countless trips to your county records office or filling out endless forms for credit agencies and other data collection firms. Mobile background searches are easy to do, and they often offer live support to help you with any questions or concerns. Don’t skip the important step of doing background checks to confirm the quality and truthfulness of your potential hires or new tenants. It’s easy, informative, and a big step up from the background checks you are used to doing. Try it today!

Thursday, 05 January 2017 00:49

Big Data Analytics and Background Checks

As technology progresses and people spend more of their time online, background checks can rely on Big Data and algorithms to get the job done quicker. “Big Data” refers to the practice of using advanced computing power to collect, analyze, and present lots of information in a format that reveals patterns and trends. These data sets are very large and complex, often with thousands or millions of data points. In the world of background checks, Big Data helps employers and landlords hone in on the best choices for hires or tenants. It can be tedious to review and assess each background check individually, and the information isn’t always presented in a simple, intuitive format.

Your Data Is Valuable

Big Data hopes to change this part of the background check process. Background check providers can tap into large pools of data (employment history, home addresses, education, criminal background and many more) to quickly and efficiently get the best possible answer as soon as possible. Using algorithms based on their own research, background check providers can greatly increase the speed, accuracy, and effective presentation of these results. The customer gets the background check information very quickly using Big Data analytics in a useful format and visual presentation.

Some Problems

There are some problems with Big Data analytics in background checks, and the Federal Government has shown an interest in the issue. The White House released a report from President Obama’s Big Data Working Group entitled Big Data: A Report on Algorithmic Systems, Opportunities, and Civil Rights. One of the key challenges of using Big Data is the potential for discrimination and legal trouble from hiring practices. The government is concerned about the potential for Big Data background checks enabling and automating discriminatory hiring based on the subjective handling of data and how it’s presented to the reader. Many Big Data providers are working to find a way through the maze of employment laws, civil rights codes, and best practices from the HR industry in order to take advantage of the benefits of Big Data without introducing bias into the system.

Let’s Use it for the Good

Big Data will only continue its growth as we all move forward into the 21st century. The recent report by the White House regarding the opportunities and challenges of Big Data challenges the assumption that Big Data is objective and unbiased. It’s a mistake to assume that data-driven reports are necessarily objective. With proper controls and a conscious effort to avoid any bias on the basis of race, age, religion, physical ability, and other things protected under civil rights codes in the United States. It’s a challenge for the industry to overcome, but the future is very bright. With powerful cloud-based computing and better data tools being developed, Big Data is now a part of our regular, day-to-day life. Background checks are no different, and there’s a great opportunity to do them faster with fewer errors and better presentation of results. Whether deliberately or unintentionally, the design and implementation of the Big Data analytics for background checks can introduce bias in the analysis. Employers and landlords need to make sure that they know the limitations of Big Data analysis as well as the potential pitfalls when it comes to discrimination.

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