Run background checks, even for top-dog positions

Buyer beware: If you don't probe deeply into job candidates' backgrounds, you're in the minority these days.

In fact, 80 percent of employers polled in a new Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey said they run criminal checks on applicants before hiring, up from just 51 percent in 1996.

Other trends: More than half of the employers polled said they verify education records, and nearly half check motor vehicle records. Plus, 35 percent run credit checks on possible new hires, up from 19 percent in 1996.

Main reasons for those increases: post-9/11 security fears and faster, cheaper availability of personal information.

Recent example: Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler, after agreeing to buy the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, was forced to release an amended personal biography after the original included exaggerations about his sports and academic background.

Interview Bootcamp D

The lesson: Even candidates for high-profile positions may take liberties with their backgrounds. So, run background and reference checks for all positions.