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Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it.
— Chinese Proverb

Jake Gittes Needed A Background Investigator

“Forget it, Jake.  It’s Chinatown.”  This is the final line of dialogue from Chinatown, the 1974 film that is rated the 19th greatest movie of all time by the American Film Institute.  Those five simple words are a metaphor for the overarching theme of the film, which is essentially that corruption is so pervasive that it is futile to try to confront and remedy it.  Every time hard-boiled private investigator, Jake Gittes, portrayed by Jack Nicholson, thought he had successfully tackled one problem, another popped up that was even worse.  (Remember this snippet of dialogue? “She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! She’s my sister AND my daughter!”)

American businesses that fail to conduct background investigations on potential employees may find themselves in a similar position as Jake Gittes: dealing with numerous issues and a looming sense of futility.  When companies make a bad hiring decision, the challenges they face, such as wasted money, negative morale, and even safety concerns, can grow exponentially and, like Jake, companies may find themselves constantly tilting at windmills to find a remedy.  

A recent study of 2,379 human resources professionals and hiring managers published by Career Builder in November 2016 estimated that the average cost of a bad hire is $17,000. Moreover, 75% of the respondents reported that they had hired the wrong person for a position and 37% of those respondents attributed the poor hiring choice to the applicant’s misrepresentation of his qualifications.  According to a 2015 study published by Statistics Brain on resume falsification, 53% of applications and resumes contain falsifications and 78% of the resumes are misleading.  How can an employer protect itself?  By using the powerful tool of the background check.  Verifying the information presented by the applicant will assist employers in not only in making an informed employment decision, but also help them avoid collateral issues such as negligent hiring lawsuits, lost productivity, and turnover. 

Sadly for Jake, he was lied to from the beginning of his case by almost every witness, including his own client.  As such, he had no resource upon which he could rely.  Conversely, companies seeking to conduct pre-employment background checks will find that partnering with professional, credentialed investigation firms will help them avoid “Chinatown.”

For more information about pre-employment background screening or internal investigations in general, please contact Stephanie Woodhead at (844) 321-9733, ext. 701 or at

The information contained in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Employers should consult their attorneys for legal advice.

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