Date: Wednesday, February 9, 2022
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Jennifer Herring: Because I had the visual impairment nobody ever set real expectations so I’ve always had my own.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Hi! I am Bethany Fishbein – The CEO of The Power Practice and Host of the Power Hour Optometry Podcast. And this conversation today is really one that is extraordinarily special and personal for me. I am interviewing Jennifer Herring who is a visually impaired marathoner and all around is an amazing person we’ll get to her for a second, but the reason that it’s so special for me is that when I was growing up when I was in college, I randomly got a summer job working at a camp for blind and visually impaired children. It’s called Camp Marcella and Rockaway, New Jersey. And it’s my experience at that camp that made me realize that I wanted to go into the eye care field and really change the direction of my personal and professional life forever. And Jennifer, or as she was known then by her camp nickname, Pickles, was one of the campers at Camp Marcella. So she and I have known each other for what is it, Jen? Probably 35 years.
Jennifer Herring: Yes.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And so when I saw you online, posting about your latest running accomplishments, fundraising accomplishments, I knew I wanted to talk and thank you so so so so so much for doing this with me. It’s bringing me all kinds of warm fuzzies already, we haven’t even started yet.
Jennifer Herring: Thank you for having me on this wonderful podcast!
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: My pleasure, last night, I was like going through the camp pictures to try and find a picture of the two of us. Did you actually end up working at the camp for a year or two?
Jennifer Herring: Yes, the first time I was asked to work in the kitchen and then for a couple of weeks when one of the other workers was unable to finish up the year, and then I worked a whole summer in the kitchen and then I worked as a counselor for a full summer.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s the pictures that I found were from staff training, and it was the two of us out on the blacktop where the basketball nets were and we were learning how to use fire extinguishers. So it might have been the year that you were in the kitchen. But that was the picture I found that had the two of us in it. I’ll email it to you.
Jennifer Herring: Oh, that’s great.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Anyway, most of the listeners for my podcast are either optometrist eye doctors, optometry students, and people in the eye care industry. So if you don’t mind, would you share a little bit about your eyes, about your diagnosis, and what your vision is like?
Jennifer Herring: Yes, sure. I was born in the mid-70s. So technology has come a long way since then, so early on the eye doctor would do some even right-ups so what they saw on your eyes. I went to an eye and ear in Massachusetts, for them to help diagnose what was going on in my eyes because there is a family history of eye issues, and my family so they knew that there was something wrong. I’d look close, and I also been like near the television and things like that. So I went there. And early on they said I had a form of juvenile macular degeneration so that went on for years I struggled in school and they did give me glasses, but the glasses kind of made everything to focus but I still couldn’t see the blackboard or had issues with seeing far and also I looked very close and so many years went on and then eventually they went to the eye doctor and they looked in and said your macular eyes are fine. It’s your optic nerve. So then it’s white. So they finally diagnosed it as optic nerve atrophy and cone dystrophy and also nearsightedness. So currently that’s what I go by. It’s also been an issue because my eyes outside look very normal. There isn’t really an indication that I do have an eye problem. So going through school that was kind of hard for me because teachers would put your glasses on and they didn’t understand, even though I was a member of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and they tried to help explain to teachers what was going on, but they really weren’t aware of having these issues. There weren’t many children also who had these kinds of issues in their classes. That was also Camp Marcella came in because when I was eight years old, I went there so I would see other children who had eye issues that we helped each other by can see better than you know, it’s there was a totally blind child then we would leave them around and so it was like a beautiful thing to be part of. We did lots of activities. No one ever set limits for us. We did all the activities and you know I met Bethany and all the wonderful people up there. It was happening every summer because she would just be with other kids and wonderful, caring people who wanted to help and so.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: it’s funny when you said that it makes me realize we work with a lot of visually impaired people in the practice. And sometimes we’re talking to parents of kids with low vision or people with low vision and one of the things that I’ve always talked about, is that a vision problem is not like a mobility issue where somebody has a limp or uses a wheelchair or has always an outward sign of having a disability. And so we talk a lot about people, especially kids, but older people too. Who are losing vision later in life that they’re struggling and there’s no way for people around them in the grocery store or server at a restaurant or anything to know that they’re having trouble which makes vision difficulties a little bit more complex? Nobody’s offering to help because they don’t know that there’s a problem. And I’m realizing as you’re saying it that that’s probably a lesson that I learned from you and your friends talking about it because as you describe it, I’m aware now that that’s almost always how I say it. So that’s something I picked up from you.
Jennifer Herring: Yeah, it’s a hidden handicap. It’s like I’ve gone through kind of life, You have this burden but I also don’t see it as something positive because I met so many people with compassion other amazing people who are just keep going you know, a lot of my friends I met at Camp Marcella everyone’s still going and so you can still lead a good life. Even if you have a hidden handicap like this.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: For sure. So tell me we kind of lost touch for a while because I knew when you were a kid at camp and then like most of us at camp we lost touch and it was really when Facebook started to gain popularity that we got back in touch. So talk about what you did after you finished high school. Did you go on in your education? I know you’re working now. What do you do?
Jennifer Herring: Yes. Well, I’m currently a software engineer. I’ve been working in the computer field now for over 20-25 years. Now. And way back in high school to like told me there wasn’t as much technology and so they were kind of leery about me going to college. I only had a monocular some of the early things. I also had glasses that had a monocular on them, but they didn’t work as well. Like I said they would make it clear but I still couldn’t see everything far away. They weren’t really pushing going to college, but I thought I could I did well through school. So I went to the University of Delaware and I majored in computer science. I got a BS in computer science and I was on the Dean’s List and I did well I think I did better than in high school even because I don’t know if that’s also a part of our skillset. But I’ve always been very structured. I felt like it was always my job in school even though I had to concentrate I had to work harder because I couldn’t see so I always had to ask for extra help a little bit. So I’ve always been pretty structured. So I went to college and so I did well doing that, and I also ran intramural track and five K’s. So I did that. And then I got my first job. I got some help with the New Jersey Commissioner for the Blind and Visually Impaired, offered assistance to help find my first job, and then from there I did well and never had a bad review at any of my jobs but I moved back closer to home a couple of times just to be with my family. And so I’ve been doing that now I worked at Lockheed Martin for a little while, which was very interesting. And now I work for a company that handles the Medicare Medicaid claims for New Jersey. So I do a lot of programming for those systems.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And are using any technology or talk about what you’re using to make the computer and stuff like that accessible for you.
Jennifer Herring: I do the looking close into the screen. I’ve tried some of the other technology they have with the closed-circuit TV and things like that. But now then I’m working at home so when I worked in the office, I would have a lot of people wondering, Why is my face and my screen? and I mean, I’ve been doing it for 25 years. I’m just used to that. It’s just my personal preference, but I know others use the talking technology that you can use in me I have my iPhone and I can look close, and I made the font bigger. So yeah, a lot of the bigger font. I do that on a lot of the applications, it’s on my home laptop. So, fortunately, I looked low so you know they always told you not to do I mean I’ve been doing it for 25-30 years almost. But that’s just my personal preference.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And that’s another piece of education that we’re giving to parents, especially of kids with low vision telling the parents telling the teachers that they were raised saying don’t put your head up in your phone. Don’t get that close to the TV. Don’t get that close to the book. And for somebody who needs that working distance to be able to see it. It is absolutely appropriate and healthy and necessary for them to do that. So we provide that as well.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you mentioned that you ran in college and really I want to talk about your running but I remember when you were younger, there was awards that we used to give out at the campfire, right so they ended the session we always had a closing campfire and then there were different awards for the kids and you were always kind of almost guaranteed recipients of the Super Girl award for your extraordinary athleticism.
Jennifer Herring: Yeah
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I don’t think any other girls at Camp stood a chance to win that when you were there in that session. So when did you figure out that you had some ability in specifically running?
Jennifer Herring: Yeah, it’s an innate thing. I think nobody introduced it to me from a young age even like in gym class since you didn’t really have to see well for the gym teacher would say okay, we have to run around the field or inside the gym. I did the Presidential physical fitness test. I love to do all that jumping and running. And so it started just innately, I am blessed that was born with a passion that I love to be active, you know, and I tried to let other people know how to just whatever you can do just walk whatever. Find yourself something that can help you be a good even new track and cross country in high school and the coach helped me because one of the teachers wasn’t nice to me one time with the understanding that I couldn’t see the board. So my coach talked to him because he didn’t want to have his runners upset. So he talked to one of the teachers to explain. I just always loved running and luckily too I wasn’t a superstar. I got my varsity letters all four years and I was captain senior year for track and cross country but luckily I was good enough but not superstar so I didn’t burn out I didn’t get injured. I took care of my body properly. So I mean, what do you got to keep going now? 20-30 years later, 35 years later, so I started to helping people.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Right? Yes, you’ve been running ever since. And not only are you a runner, but you’re also a marathon runner, and not only are you a marathon runner you’re really fast. how many marathons have you done at this point?
Jennifer Herring: 39 marathons
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: 39 And what spurred this podcast am I reached out to you is you just posted on Facebook that you got back from your 19th Boston Marathon?
Jennifer Herring: Yes.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Amazing. I did one once. And afterward, I said one and done. And I realized about maybe 20 minutes into the first one that this is something that I was never going to experience again. So 39 is extraordinary. How old were you when you did your first one? Do you remember?
Jennifer Herring: Yeah, I was 28 and I did New York. That’s one of the most special ones to do. It’s like you’re a rock star the whole time. There are just people cheering and that’s why to people come from all over the world and get along and just people are cheering there is music and you can’t get lost in your strong woman pretty buddy and I always make friends you know you talk to people and everyone has different reasons that they’re doing the run. So that’s always special and charities if there are people raising money, it’s a really special thing, I always said I do marathons and then I started in that first marathon I qualified for Boston and so that’s how I got involved with starting to run the Boston Marathon.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: My first and only marathon I finished in six hours and 10 minutes. How did you do in yours?
Jennifer Herring: Ah, that one I was, I did 3:35 for the first year, And I know of course over the years now I’m slowed down but it depends on your training and everything. so sometimes you need to get some more training in but my best was 3:22 there so I run then in New York and then 3:26 in Boston, it’s my elder best one.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you run them to be fast? Like, are you going for time or you’re going for the experience?
Jennifer Herring: Yeah, it’s always been an experience for me because I was aware of the Boston Marathon and then the qualifying standard and I need to know that I would get that the first time I really wanted to I had read books about it. All the legends and running and eventually, I met Kathrine Switzer, you know, reading all the history of the Boston Marathon and everything. I really wanted to run it, but I didn’t know so yeah, I guess it’s the joy of running. They all talked about the joy of running and I think I have that. Moreover, then even in high school, too, I guess for life because I had a visual impairment nobody ever set real expectations. So I’ve always had my own, at least gone on my own pace through life now, and I hope everyone can do that because that way people set too high expectations or something. And so you should just go along and do it. You can do your six hours. I mean, that’s wonderful to some people never do it. Yeah, those three can be happy with that. It’s just the satisfaction of completing it. And the experience you have.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And you mentioned that people out there fundraising and over your running career, you’ve done fundraising or done marathons for I think, some different causes, right?
Jennifer Herring: I’ve done well, one part there’s a lot of unfortunately cancer in my family and then other loved ones and friends that have been touched by cancer. So I’ve done a story with my father in 2007. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November of 2007. And so I told them that I was going to run the Boston Marathon for him in 2008. So they tried to do things for him, but it wasn’t working. But he held on till the day I came home and I handed him the Boston Marathon medal that you get when you finish the marathon. And that evening, he passed away. It was just a wonderful thing he did for me because he hung on because I had told him I did that marathon for him. So I do a lot of charities that are related to brain tumor research. I’ve done several in New York, and run a lot of races in Central Park. And then there’s a American Cancer Research. I’m doing a race in Philly. So I’ve done some fundraising for them in Philly, and then there’s Fred’s team. I’ve done the New York Marathon and then of course for the visual impairment I’ve done the Boston Marathon pretty much I guess, I think about 10 to 15 of the Boston Marathon races I’ve raised money for Team with a Vision which raises money for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually impaired and they support and rehabilitation services for people in society that have visual impairments there. So that’s how I feel it’s the overall good thing for me and for everyone, you know, for helping people.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Absolutely! So when you race with Team with a Vision, what’s involved with that? Do you fundraise? Are you running with other visually impaired people? What does that mean, to be part of that?
Jennifer Herring: Yes, it’s a group of blind and visually impaired runners and guides and they start fundraising about six months out they have you set up a web page where you can go to fundraise, which says the Boston Marathon was twice in six months. Now, I did it back in October. So that’s the last one I set up. And then for this one, that was just in April, I donate it and then I informed other people to just go to the main web page that GivenGain, they set up many fundraisers. So Team with Ovation was one of those on there and told them when race week comes along about the Friday before the Monday Boston Marathon, you go up there, they have different activities to get together. So you can meet other people that are blind or visually impaired and then the guide under are solely charity runners to that raise money also, and then they have dinner then you get your bed that you wear for the race. And that’s a wonderful thing too. So when I run in the marathon, people are saying “Go Team with a Vision!” so it’s publicized more. So people wonder what is that now look it up and hopefully they can either join the team to run and raise money or just donate or cheer even is wonderful too. That helps that helped me a lot too.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Just hearing people cheering for you on the course.
Jennifer Herring: Yes
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yes, that’s awesome! And you mentioned people go up with their guides, but you don’t usually run with the guide, do you?
Jennifer Herring: I have a couple of years? You know, Unfortunately, Tom was a racist. There have been some things that have been so you know, in some cases I always go back and forth, whether it’s better if something goes wrong, it’s better to have someone with me because you know like when I’m on the course I feel kind of sheltered because I know where I’m going. There are people all along, you can get help but if there’s something where they say the race is over or something and you’re still out there or something, I would need help to get back or just to make sure nothing goes wrong, but I run with guides and they help because I do have to slow down go into like the water stops and things and they do help to say okay, you’re making a left turn coming up. So instead I go along on my own and just kind of rely on the other runners. Sometimes, it’s better and I’ll always welcome someone to run with me. I’ve always been Ms.Independence. It’s hard for me to always have somebody helping, but they’re wonderful too.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And they have to find one who’s fast enough for you like I would offer but.
Jennifer Herring: Yeah, well some friends
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: or you could stroll along with me.
Jennifer Herring: Well, sometimes they have to lie so you can only go up to 11 miles with the person they have this switch off for races and there are all levels to of ability. So there are faster runners, and there’s a guy who runs like 235 marathons and blind, and then there are slower runners that it seems like there’s a whole gamut. So if someone does want to help a guy and there are other associations that they set up, there’s United in Stride, it’s called in America. It’s spread out in different states where you can sign up on the website United in Stride and find if you want to assist a visually impaired runner, and then now I see there’s a team tethered together. And that’s another one that I see is set up. So if there are runners that want to assist, and they have that just even to take a vision curbar out for a run race, which is you know.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Cool! I will put those websites in the notes when we put the podcast out. So if somebody’s interested in doing that, maybe they can get matched up with somebody in their area. Were you in Boston at the marathon, the year of the bombing? Was it twenty 2013 Oh my god.
Jennifer Herring: Yes. Well, I have the associated story with being going to visually impaired because I finished about 15 minutes before the bombs went off. And I was around the corner about 600 feet around the corner. I guess from there, we had a family meeting area where the team was the Vision Group would meet after the race, and there happened to be a seeing-eye dog there waiting for his person to come. And so of course, since he wasn’t working, I wasn’t petting, but I just kind of kneeled down, Just this was my 10th Boston Marathon. So, of course, I love dogs and I was talking to the dog and I felt, I finished my 10th Boston Marathon and it was a beautiful day, that day too and finally because usually, it’s very cold and windy in that area. So yeah, I just usually want to get going and then all of a sudden I heard a noise and an echo sound like a backfire and I was like, okay? and the dogs heard it too. And then it was a little bit of time and then it happened again. And the dog started shaking. So we’re only what is that noise and Josh Warren who had introduced me to Team with a Vision. He had asked me to join the team couple of years back, He said, I don’t know that doesn’t sound good. So my mom was in the hotel in the Prudential Center there I always told her to stay put because I didn’t want her ever wandering around. She called and she said there was a bomb something was going on at the finish line and to get back to the room. So I got up from there and you know me while the dog was shaking, and so he knew the dog knew something was bad. And I had to get back to the hotel. And luckily, I got back then before they started shutting the doors you couldn’t go in, it’s just horrible there. And then actually, a beautiful thing that just happened is that this was a second Boston Marathon they had the Power Elite Athletes Division and one of the women participating in it. Adrianne Haslet – She was affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. She was a ballroom dancer, she lost her leg and she decided she wanted to run the Boston Marathon again after she had done it in 678 hours I think a couple of years ago. So she participated in this past last week, the Boston Marathon and she was just ready. I mean, it was beautiful to see she was so happy because she trained with Shalane Flanagan. She had won the New York Marathon. She’s a professional runner, and she had her as her support. I saw her at the starting area. I could feel the smile, I couldn’t see but I thought we were on the running scene and what was going on and just to know how happy she was and she finished in I think a little over five hours. So it was like a three-hour improvement. And she posted and has been so happy since joy. Yeah, I was even though you’re part of a horrible thing, but she’s turned it into something beautiful in her life. So that was very nice to see firsthand. I always miss out on things. So it was kind of like right there. I was fortunate to just be in the presence of that.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I really I think that message or theme has come through and a bunch of different stories that you’ve shared today about your experience of taking something that maybe people would consider a negative and finding the positive side or finding the beautiful things in a situation. So that’s a very positive message for today. You know, I think for anybody who’s listening if they are inspired to do something positive, I will share the links to Tethered Together to United in Stride for somebody who’s looking to give us their time for somebody who may be looking for a wonderful place to give their money. I’ll share links for the Team with a Vision and also for Camp Marcella, which although it’s a little bit different now is still helping blind and visually impaired kids in New Jersey and is still a special place to me, and Jen I know for you too. And I’m really grateful that your running career and my vision career have put us back in touch and given us the opportunity to reconnect all these years later. Thank you so so so so so so much for talking. It was great to have this conversation with you.
Jennifer Herring: Thank you Bethany and you are wonderful too, I’m honored to talk with you.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I am the one who is honored here and for everybody out there, Thank you so much for listening.
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Tommy Huhn: Listen you know what you had a felony you didn’t disclose to us. This is a charge that we can overlook. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to go forward with employment and it is just as simple as that.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I’m Bethany Fishbein, CEO of the Power Practice and Host of the Power Hour Optometry Podcast. Today I’m talking to Tommy Huhn, who’s the CEO of National Applicant Screening, which is a leading provider of on-demand employment and drug screening solutions. One thing that we’re finding from many of our clients and doctors around the country is that they are currently understaffed. And because they’re understaffed, they’re hiring in crisis mode, putting ads out, and getting fewer applicants than ever. So they’re trying to fill positions. They’re not getting the applicants when they finally get somebody who shows up for the interview and seems like a good candidate. They’re making fast hiring decisions to avoid a good potential candidate getting snapped up by somebody else. And those quick decisions can put the employers at risk. So I’m hoping my conversation today with Tommy helps practice owners and business owners learn ways to mitigate some of those risks and make sure that you’re making good hires. Tommy, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me.
Tommy Huhn: Oh, no problem. Glad to be here.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you work with companies all over the country and all different kinds of industries. Talk about just some of the employment trends that you’re seeing today?
Tommy Huhn: Well, most of my clients or a lot of my clients are in the same situation that you’ve mentioned earlier. There’s nobody coming in the door for an interview. There’s nobody looking for a job. And it seems to be across all industries, you know, because from all the clients that we have, which are in many different industries, but I like talking with them, and I’m seeing the same thing that you mentioned as far as there’s just nobody out there to snatch up. And the other thing I’m seeing is that the people that are being hired are showing up for two or three days and not showing back up again. And they’re having a hard time keeping the employees with the company after they hire them. But most of my clients are not doing the fast hire and skipping say a background check if they normally do that in the process just to get that person they are communicating with me about can we rush this background check. This is a really good applicant. I don’t want to lose them. And of course, we’ve seen the same situation on our end where our vendors and researchers they’re understaffed as well. So we’re seeing a longer lack a you know, a lag time in how fast the reports are coming back. And that really just depends on where they are in the country. But people want to hire them and get those positions filled. So the business runs smoothly and everybody’s not stressed out but it seems that that’s quite common, all over the place out there.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So talk about the different kinds of background checks that you can do.
Tommy Huhn: Oh boy, okay, you can do depending on your budget. A lot of people are some people out there they just don’t want to spend the money to take that extra step with adding a background check that is necessary. And a lot of our clients, they’re small businesses, and they’re not the big corporations out there and stuff. And I’ve gotten a lot of clients in the past which you know, have been burned by employees and I’m I picked one up last year. It’s a small business, the employee ended up stealing $10,000 from him. They weren’t barely able to recuperate about 1000 of that I call them after the fact client that they got burned and then now they’re little swear by background checks left and right. And if they did a background check on that person who stole the $10,000 they would have seen that there was a fraud and stealing in their past from doing a background check and probably would not have hired that person. $10,000 may not seem a lot to people but for a small business to suck up a loss of $10,000 I made that may make you close your door. So it’s really important to do a background check whether I’m in Georgia, whether it’s a simple, statewide Georgia that cost $14 Or we do a package that’s really comprehensive covers all aspects of criminal behavior that we can search up to six feet off. So we can work these out that way as far as pricing and budgets and things but at least that the minimum you want to serve you know if the state that you’re in offers statewide, some of them are expensive, some of them are inexpensive, you least want to do that. If that happens, then there for a while. It again we can work with anybody’s budget. We can search any every place in the United States and abroad also is for the company’s needs.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re talking about criminal background checks, which obviously have kind of, we can understand the kinds of things that those would pick up. What other kinds of screenings like I know, we’ve used you for a long time for my practices and there’s education credit, What are the other things that you can look at?
Tommy Huhn: Businesses that really do a thorough job on their background screening, would you know if it was important to the physician would check employment would check in with check education, just verify that what they’re putting on the resume and send it to you is actually though, there are people that fudge resumes, and that’s what we would do just to provide that service to prove that the applicant has done what they say they’ve done on the resume. So, you got the education, you got employment verification, drug testing, so important part too, probably about maybe half of my clients. It’s not cheap, but it does add to the background. But also if you add drug testing, you can also get into a drug-free workplace and set up a program by adding drug testing and you can get credits on your insurance by setting up a drug-free workplace, the credit reports they’ve come under such scrutiny lately. And there’s depending on the state that you’re in credit reports, I’ll use New York City and it’s not New York is New York City. I’ll use New York City as an example. They have limited the use of credit reports. I believe the last time I looked for it to only people that are making over $75,000 A year have access to $10,000 or more in company inventory. One of the other ones they had to had a company credit card. There’s some other standards that they have telling you when you can use that credit report. Most of my clients it used to run them all the time. On the person that’s going to clean the building, answering the phones, the person who’s going to be running the office, we’ve asked them just to you know, hey, listen, it used to kind of be an all or nothing you know, to be consistent with HR making sure you’re having the same hiring standards for everybody that you hire. But that’s changed. And I would say that they’re not necessarily necessary for somebody who’s going to be working a front desk or helping you out around the office. But when you get into say an office manager or somebody a little higher, it might be worth running the credit report. On them just to see if they, you don’t know if there you know, their financial situation at home. But if they’re gonna be in charge of your inventory, basically an extension of the owner of the practice or the business, it might be something that you want it because if they’re in a lot of debt you don’t want them to be counting money and going one for me one for the business, one for me, or you know, or thinking that they need to steal from a company in order to pay their bills. And that’s really since over the time I’ve been doing this is what people are looking for is looking out at can they run their own finances? Can someone run their own finances at home? Which would be a yes or no by looking at the credit report or because you don’t really want them coming into your business and helping you with your finances if they can’t handle their own finances. That might be a red flag if you’re looking at a credit report. They have lost a back in the 90s, early 2000s. I think used to be I wanted a criminal search and a credit check. Because backgrounds for some reason, up until that point were always always included credit, but that’s not the case now. It’s another tool that you can use to screen somebody to see you know to make a hiring decision. In addition to the credit reports most of the packages that we send out for the Power Practice. They will include a motor vehicle report or can show you criminal records possibly that you may not see by doing so you just statewide like it down here in Georgia. The person’s never gotten in trouble in Georgia for anything but went to Florida on vacation, just throwing out names here, went to Panama City and end up getting a DUI. Well, they get out they come back to Georgia. Go back to Florida for the DUI court case. Then if they were convicted, they would transfer their probation out of Florida back to Georgia. And then the probation will be done in Georgia. But we wouldn’t know about that DUI from Florida because we’re not searching Florida. Man each state’s different and how they do things. But if you ran the motor vehicle report and say with a Georgia statewide background, then that DUI is gonna pop-up on that motor vehicle and so it’ll kind of shed light and it’s really just that the person maybe if you have a practice or business on the state line, you know, maybe the motor vehicle might come into play more so than they in the middle of the state, because you’re gonna see the traffic tickets, things like that. But you know, you could cross state lines and get a reckless driving or the DUI as I mentioned that service infractions from other states that we may not know that better there because it happened outside of the state of residency that that applicant lives in.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I remember questioning why we need a driver’s license records with you in the beginning and we decided to make it part of our package. I think it was super inexpensive to add in and we ran into a situation we had a new employee and his criminal stuff had come back the driver’s license hadn’t come back yet. But we had a training opportunity that we wanted him to go to. So he said okay, all the criminal stuff is fine. I’m not super worried about if they get traffic tickets for texting while driving. I wouldn’t have any staff left. So we’re going to this seminar and he’s going to drive a couple of people like we’re carpooling and comes back that his license had been suspended. So now we have somebody without an active driver’s license, driving some of our staff to a seminar and really had no idea the amount of liability that there was in that so we don’t think about our offices usually requiring driving other than driving to work, but there’s a lot of things that come up and just asking him about it. Oh, yeah, no, no, it’s active. There were just some fines and then realized that it was much deeper than that. Ended up letting the employee go so it is relevant stuff.
Tommy Huhn: Yeah, that’s a very good point. With a suspended license that you ran into, you can have your license suspended for non-payment of tickets, child support, drug offenses, and again, that goes back to those issues happening outside of the state. So if you got a drug charge outside of the state, you know, part of say Alabama was processing to suspend your license for 90 days. But again, being in Alabama, you live in Georgia, you would see that the person had a suspended license and having a suspended license. As you mentioned, with the liability of being on the clock and driving employees or co-workers to that seminar. There is a lot of liability there. You are absolutely correct on that. And then back to this, you know, back to a simpler point if your license is suspended. Are you going to have a reliable way of transportation to come work for the practice or the business? If they are not driving and have to rely on other people? That may be an issue as well. Getting to work and stuff and as you mentioned with your situation, it led into a much deeper problem than what was revealed, you know, maybe on the criminal searches and stuff because maybe we didn’t know where to search or, or there was no indication that that person had gotten in trouble elsewhere to have that license suspended.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: It puts you in an interesting situation, though, as you put these requests for these checks. In and then you get results. You have to make some decisions around what’s okay and what isn’t. So, I think over the years we’ve gotten some that are very clearly not okay. Right? Previous Doctor’s office employee that was stealing drugs. Okay, definitely not hiring that one. But there’s some of them like a DUI three years ago, that you have to decide, is that a reason not to hire? Do you find yourself advising people when they get these results back and call you saying is this enough? To not make this higher?
Tommy Huhn: I do. I do have clients that want to discuss criminal records, kind of what it means because I don’t really know a lot of people don’t look at this stuff. We have clients that hire three times a year and then we got clients that use us hundreds of times a month. So the ones that don’t look at the reports all the time or have a good feeling. I think that you if you’re going to start a screening process, you need to say okay, these type of cases are unacceptable. We’re not going to hire anybody that has XYZ on their background and back to your example, with the DUI, what I found is if they’re driving a lot, then that DUI is gonna matter because if they have to put them in a company car, then their insurance is gonna go higher, and maybe the insurance company won’t even cover them to drive. But yes, I’d say I get calls on the criminals’ criminal aspect. You also want to look at the age of the record. Is there any other records out there and someone got a DUI three years ago messed up? First time getting in trouble, and if they’re not driving for your company? Is that DUI really important to disqualify this? Highly qualified candidate? who screwed up once? So you know, when someone calls me, and we’re having a discussion, I’ll give them my thoughts. I’ll say if this was a person that was going to work for me, this is how I would approach it. This is what I would do but ultimately when clients call, it’s more of a discussion and when we leave the discussion, it’s back on them and how they feel. Talking with them, and getting them over the anxiousness of hiring somebody that maybe had shoplifting charge five years ago, nothing else you know, was stupid made they’ve had been 18-19. And that’s really important too, is the age of when this happens. You got a bunch of fast in your late 30s and early 40s probably don’t want to hire that. If someone screw up in college a couple times and now they’ve graduated college and they’ve had a job before they came to you you know, someone took a chance on him. And if they come back with great recommendations or there’s a besides just the screw-up in college or something, you don’t want to pass on somebody that you think would be a very good fit just because they made a mistake in the past. And I’d say the most calls I get about is on credit reports because they’re a little hard to read. That’s what I spend a lot of my time with my clients on after we have a couple of discussions about a credit report. They know what to look for and stuff what’s important or what’s not and I’ll give them my feeling but as far as I’ll look at that candidate. This report would not dissuade me from hiring them if they had the skill set that I needed for my business. And I think that they feel a little bit better on that. But ultimately, it goes back to the client on whether they’re going to do that or not. And I can’t make that decision for him. I can just know how I view it. And how those charges or incidents would affect my decision on hiring somebody or not. And we deal with personal information every day all day long and we have to have the highest security to keep that secure. But I think they feel a little bit better instead of going through the whole process again. And then as you said, you know, maybe they’re really hurting for somebody to come in and work for them. And it makes them feel a little bit better. But I’d say it’s the criminal records in that and the credit reports that we get the most calls. As far as questions from our clients.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: It’s interesting, sometimes the difference between what an applicant is saying and what shows up on the report leads to some ethical questions about that employee you mentioned education before and I’m thinking of potential employee that we had who listed a graduation from college on her resume. And when she had come in and interviewed the school she graduated from was actually one of our employees had a sister who was graduating from that school and in the same class so they had a whole conversation about it. And when we ran the education check she hadn’t graduated. And what was interesting is having a college degree wasn’t a requirement for the position. So if she’d come in and said I’ve got 110 credits, but have not yet finished. She would have been fully qualified for the position she was applying for. So she didn’t need to have the degree. But the fact that she said she did when she did in, brought her ethics into question so we look for those mismatches, too, right?
Tommy Huhn: Oh, absolutely! I mean that that’s, I think that right there, which is something that I can’t remember any client who has ever ran in that situation like you’re mentioning right now, that went ahead and hired that person because basically you just lie and lie to me to get the job. What are you going to lie about when I give you the job? So it goes back to a trust issue. And that is really important. On official survey, if you will, I would say that that would be a definite you’re not getting hired because you fudged your resume you lied to get in the door on this basic simple application. You’re already lying to me. It doesn’t make any sense for me to bring you on because you’ve already represented yourself to not be the person that we would want in here. Honest hard working, was gonna do the job and help us grow the business as opposed to an employee that you have to worry about all the time that make a good a good working situation for anybody. Yeah, anytime a client in the past has found that, that person is not hired. It’s a definitely
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, We didn’t hire that one that I mentioned. So there’s some legal nuance to when in the hiring process, the background check is can actually be done. Right because to do the check, you have to ask for their age and you can ask for their age in the hiring process. I think it’s that you have to make an offer. And then you can make the offer conditional on the successful background check. Am I saying that right?
Tommy Huhn: Good point you brought up? Yes, you are. And there’s again, it’s state by state on when the background and asking for the age and stuff can be done. But in all 50 states, no ifs, ands or buts. There’s been a lot of lawsuits out there about how the onboarding process of employees works. So they may come in. So the lawsuits what they’ve done is that the big companies and stuff as you got up, say, say you’re applying online. Then you go through fill out the application, you fill out some other forms that they have their little packet that you need to fill out for them to start to consider you in the hiring process. Well what was happening is they were buried in the consent form and all those and all those packets or papers that you may have to give somebody, So that is a huge No No. So if you are going to do a background check on somebody, you need to have that consent form the disclosure and the summary of rights separate from everything else. So it’s gotten to the point where you need to pull all the other paperwork back and say, Okay, we are going to do a background check on you before we hire you. So it has to be a separate step so that they know that a background check could and will be done in the process of getting hired for that company. So that’s a really, really important step that could get you in trouble with the FCRA and the EEOC. So there’s been a ton of lawsuits. So that’s number one, and it doesn’t matter what state you’re in. Okay, so then when say you’re in New York, they just passed they just enacted a law back in September. And again I use New York because they are the extreme here on what they require of how an employer hires. I got a couple investment people up in New York and they had to change the way that they do things. And it slows down the background check, of course, but it’s just the law in New York City, though in New York City. You do exactly what I said with the paperwork and bringing somebody on, but up there in there, when they start the background check so that they want education and employment as part of their package. Well, under the law in New York, that was just an act that went into effect. You have to do the education and employment and references ahead of time before you actually get to the criminal aspect of the background check. They made you break it up because what they’re trying to do up there is make sure that the criminal aspect of the background check is not going to take somebody out of running because they did that first and they’re just looking at the criminal background check as opposed the whole body of work.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So need to say this person is totally hireable before you can run that criminal check.
Tommy Huhn: Exactly! And that’s just New York City. That’s just New York City. So there are different regulations out there and usually on the west coast and the east coast on that but most states just keep that consent form. And when you tell them that you’re going to do a background check, keep it separate. So they know it’s common. That’s been a huge issue over the years. And to your point, when you what you said about doing the background check. That would be you know, if you went through the interview and everything and you feel good about them and they came back for a second one, you can absolutely for sure say okay, we want to hire you, but we need to do a background check. And as long as you pass the background check, then you’ll have a job here with us. So that right there. It does two things. It lets them know you can start your onboarding process, maybe depending on again, every business is different, might even bring them in to start training while the background check is working. I know that’s money too. But if you feel good about it, and they are to be a good fit, I have people that you know will start some training while the background check is still going on. Every now and then they do get bit and the criminal background check comes back and they can’t hire them very far and few in between. But I think as a process paperwork to start the interview process, background check separately from all that. And then you can also say at that time, we want to hire you congratulations and get all the onboarding done. Intention on the background check coming back, acceptable to the business.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And sometimes just saying that we want to hire you we are going to do a background check. I’ve had some applicants kind of bail at that point. Oh, what do you mean a background check? And I say well, it looks at your criminal history, your driver’s license, and they’ll say, I don’t think I’m gonna pass that. And so we’ve had a couple that walked out of the process at that point. We’ve had a couple that have said usually I’ll tell them, we’re going to do this background check. Is there anything that I need to be aware of? And so we have had some just like the example that you gave the say, Yeah, I was 18 I have a shoplifting charge. Tell me how long does that stuff stay on your record? Is that forever?
Tommy Huhn: Yeah. Actually is it’s criminal records are in the courthouses. courthouses are public records. Anybody can go in there and take a look at. So if you got say, I’m 50 and say I got in trouble when I was in 99. It doesn’t matter if it’s a felony, a misdemeanor. It’s still going to be in that courthouse. And if somebody wants to go and dig for it, depending on really so with that example, being 30 years ago, 32 years ago, the misdemeanor file has probably been destroyed. Alright. So now that we got more technology and stuff what would happen is if you found some from 1990 They would have to be on their computers in the courthouse and all it’s gonna say is Tommy shoplifting 1990 convicted. That’s it. They are out there forever. felonies I don’t think that they ever get rid of them. You know, as far as the files, can’t say it’s for every county, but most counties when I’ve had to go back and look longer than what we provide there in the background, you know, going over the seven or 10 years, they say okay, we gotta go to archives, and we only go to archives on Friday. So, you know, once the record actually gets older, it’s really hard to go find it’s really hard to get you can do it, but it’s with that example, they would have to go back to archives and it probably cost you a pretty penny. Well, if you did it yourself. It wouldn’t cost you a pretty penny but just time-consuming. You paid a private PI to go do it and probably cost you a pretty penny.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So usually the stuff that’s coming back on your report is from the last seven to 10 years.
Tommy Huhn: Yes, that’s exactly what I was gonna say. Because your initial question was, is it out there forever? Yes, it is. The only reason it wouldn’t be out there forever is if you got I got an expungement or the case was sealed and a lot of first-timers getting in trouble. Most states do have something like here in Georgia is called a first offender act. You get in trouble and it can be for some miss all misdemeanors and some felonies. If you get that first offender act and you complete your probation and your punishment and everything, it’ll be labeled the first offender and we cannot report that to anybody because the law states that hey, this guy screwed up. We’re not going to have this punish him for employment for the rest of his life if he only just made one mistake. And our reports, the researchers if it’s easy to get, you might see a 10-year record on our report, but almost all of them are seven years. And that’s really the standard in our industry. I got clients that don’t want anything over seven years. Now, if it was really serious, I’d have to talk to that client say, You know what, this guy murdered somebody back in 2000 and Are you sure you don’t want this record, you know, or, you know, something like that.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Especially if it was an employer.
Tommy Huhn:Right or, you know, or rape somebody or you know, something, you know, something heinous, I would say, Okay, listen, you need to see this because I know it’s over seven years, but you’re gonna have to make a decision. But yeah, so most of our reports cover seven years back in 2003, with the fact that it updated the FCRA, which is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was written back in the 70s and updated it to say that any criminal conviction can be reported up until 2003. If you’re older like myself and going out for jobs, you were only able to report convictions for seven years. So you know, if you had gotten in trouble in college and you know, some series Pretty bad or something, if you got through the seven years were able to support yourself and stuff. After seven years, you could officially just write everybody, because it wasn’t a reportable offence. evictions are reportable, but we limited the scope to seven. If somebody needs 10 years, of course, that’s a little extra money. We can go 10 years but as far as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the EEOC, they look at just the seven year and there’s also other like California, who got in trouble for misdemeanor weed possession marijuana possession. After two years, you can’t report that in California. So you know, there’s various laws out there in different states and that’s why you would hire us so we can navigate that for you because you’re not the expert. But we were the seven year reporting of those types. of cases in the reports.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: What is that conversation sound like? So if somebody’s in the situation that you described, they, somebody seems like a great candidate. We’re going to hire you as long as the background check comes back clear. In the meantime, we’re going to start some training. So now they’re training in the office for a couple of days or even if they aren’t, you’re waiting for the results and something comes back. That makes you realize that you’re not going to hire this person. This is not somebody that you want working for you. How does the employer handle that?
Tommy Huhn: Well, I mean, I think it’s very easy as far as exact wording. And being comfortable with it and stuff. You know, a lot of people don’t like to fire people, and hoping to Coach them up and get them to where you need to be. They need to be as far as what you need them to do. But really I mean, if it comes if there’s a charge on there that comes back, and as you mentioned earlier, is there anything I need to know about before we run this background check? Again, that goes back to integrity that goes back to honesty, with somebody with what I’ve seen in the past, or I’ve seen even with myself and with other clients if you’re upfront and it’s not something that happens every other year, and you made a mistake. They’re gonna appreciate that because first of all, you go on okay, they didn’t have to find out on their own, you know, even after they asked you, but you were just upfront saying, Listen, we do the background check. Five years ago, I got a DUI is that gonna take me out of the running for the position? And employers really appreciate that. I mean, it should it goes back to your ethics on that, but if it comes back after your training and say, Listen, you know what, you had a felony, you did disclose to us. This is a charge that we can overlook. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to go forward with your employment and it’s just as simple as that. You don’t want to say too much if there’s somebody that’s litigious. They’re going to hold you at every word, or remember it and maybe make trouble for the company. But typically, they know they’ve been in trouble. They know you know, they were maybe hoping you got missed or it wasn’t going to come up. But you know, just the few conversations I’ve had over the years and just my experience. They know they messed up, they know they weren’t maybe forthcoming, and that the charge and the charge that they had was too serious for them to be hired and it’s usually just kind of a not really a mutual decision because you’re not allowing them to work anymore. The employer isn’t but they typically know. And again, it should just be a this again, talk interacting with HR folks over the years and stuff. Short and sweet. It’s all you want to do. You don’t want to have a discussion. There should be no argument. You’re the boss. You’re the one that’s not going to hire them. You don’t want them in your company. And because of their actions, as they have prevented employment with your company because of decisions that you’ve made. So it’s a little hard when after you’ve had one or two and just make sense. And then at that time, then the other thing you want to look at is you know, how much are you paying out for that training? isn’t worth holding off on? The training because it’s very intensive for this position, or if it’s not, if it’s for a couple hours to get to everybody and get to know him. Maybe it’s not that big a deal as far as a cause, but you still have to pay them for any training they have. So you know that again, that’s back on the employer on how they want to do it. But you know, again, it’s just if you had two candidates and one seemed to be hereafter you think about them, one seemed to be better than the other. However, you the person that you already hired and you’re waiting on the background check. It should just be a letdown, just like because you wanted to hire this other candidate as opposed to the second one. So are you just thought we’re gonna we’re gonna move on to somebody else, you know, we’re not gonna be able to hire you. And again, just short and sweet, but it’s really not that big of a deal. I can’t say that somebody’s not going to run into that because you don’t know what’s in people’s hearts sometimes or how they actually react. You know how they’re actually going to react and say there might be a scene again, I’ve had it both ways. The scenes are far and few in between, but most people when I’ve had to do that, they know they understand it. And but again, we know depending on your state, not a lawyer like to be one or anything but you might really want to look at the state laws pertaining to that, isn’t that’s just more digging down into letting somebody go a fter the background check came back. We know a lot of it out there. But you know, you definitely want to know about your city, your state, and we have a lot of that information on that on how you want to handle the onboarding process and whether or not you want to start training before the background comes back. When again, if you don’t need that person for a week or so, you got a couple interviews or you got one interview and you just absolutely love the person that you check references. They come back. They all look good. You can just get them to sign that background screening form right then and there and get that thing go. You know, most of the time the screenings are only two to three days. COVID affected those turnaround times just because of mandate, you know, shutdown mandates and people not coming in and stuff. But typically we’re starting to see our swing back to the two to three-day turnaround. And sometimes they come back in the same day depending on where you are up though. You’ve seen New Jersey during COVID. They did something up there of course you have to pay for it with the court costs, but those they you know, the county-level searches and the statewide come back in the same day.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, because recently that have come back that quickly. So thinking about over the time that we’ve worked with you not only from my own practice or from all of our clients, we’ve got a collection of horror stories and crazy things that we’ve found. What’s one of your favorite things that have popped up before we close today?
Tommy Huhn: Well, the one club was started out early in this business. You know, I was growing it was you know, we’re just going bonkers trying to get more businesses to pay the bills and there was an issue with one of the major bank companies out there. And this Secretary figured out how to steal more than $50,000 before she got caught from you know a bank that does billions of dollars a year. So they finally caught up with her and she figured out that because she’s the one that answered the phone. And she was able to get somebody to go cash these checks for her that she figured out because it was just such a big bank that so the checks and balances aren’t something that they were going to see that day that it happened just because they’re so big. They eventually found it because of the checks and balances, but they weren’t doing backgrounds on there. You know, folks that answer that, you know, the lower level folks that worked for them. And after that they became a client of mine, and my dad ended up and Trey, he’s a private investigator who specializes in forensic accounting. So he was able to track back all that money and where it was what banks went to who was involved. There was a big case for that. But I ended up getting you know, that was 450,000 out of a billion dollars you know, billion-dollar company which is which is kind of a drop in the bucket for them. But it’s still $450,000 So I got you know, so I was able to I was able to get them as a client again after the fact because they weren’t screening the lower-level positions at that company. And then there was one other one real quick is I forgot who it was but with the Optometrist. And they hired somebody that was, I guess, office manager that our guests the person that does the glasses and stuff in the office like when you go that sits down to make sure the glasses fit, you know, helps you pick them out. Well, they came to the east coast from Arizona, and they got hired, and I can’t remember who it was it was years ago. The owner of the practice called me up and said you know what, I need to start doing this because I just found out the person I hired was stealing inventory from the office in Arizona, and doing eye exams after hours when they weren’t the doctor and she had just gotten again, criminals kind of talk once they get comfortable around the employees that are in your business and one of the input one of her employees told her that and so she got online, started looking and then even called that practice up there. Because she wasn’t doing anything, just more of walking into the office, ended up firing that person but she couldn’t believe that she had hired somebody like that. And luckily they had loose lips, which say, their ship and she was just appalled and I’m not sure if she’s still a client of ours again. Like I said this was probably about 10 years ago. But again, those are types of things that we might have found out because depending on the package you have and stuff we might have searched Arizona and found out that he got in trouble out there and then you wouldn’t have hired that person. So those are two of the stories again after the fact type of clients and a very good reason of why you should be doing screenings, whether it’s just a basic one or not to protect your business because you never really know who’s gonna walk through that door and what they’ve done in the past that they’re trying to hide or run from.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Absolutely! So for anyone listening Our recommendation is that for every new hire, regardless of where they come from, if it’s a friend from church, little old lady down the street, most innocent looking kid on the block, this is an inexpensive way to just have a layer of protection for your practice and to avoid a situation where you become one of those after the fact clients that only does these now because they’ve been burned. And Tommy these are real stories. The doctor you just mentioned is somebody that I know I think about the years of doing these the number of things that have come up for people so this is real and it’s absolutely worth it. If someone wants to start running background check on their employees wants to use you how do they get in touch with you?
Tommy Huhn: They can call the office our phone number 770-339-2880 Or if they want to reach out by email my email address is Tommyh@nascreening.com and we can work with you and build any package that you want. We do have the standard packages that we set out but we can customize anything you want. Take anything out or add more to it depending on how in-depth you guys want to go. But again, even if you just do a basic just statewide or county level search depending on where you are. It’s well well worth it just to know who’s walking through your door and kind of working with you and making your business run
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: 100% and Tommy thank you so much for spending the time. totally worthwhile. And I hope that this helps people out there. Start to avoid some mistakes. So thank you so much for being here and everybody out there. Thank you for listening.
Tommy Huhn: Goodbye! Thank you!
To reach our guest speaker: Tommy Huhn CEO of National Applicant Screening
Phone number 770-339-2880
Email address: Tommyh@nascreening.com