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4 Ways to Improve Your Background Checks for Employment

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

January 25 2024

In today’s competitive business landscape, making the right hiring decisions is key to an organization’s success. Background screening is one of the most invaluable tools in reducing the risk of a bad hire. As the importance of a thorough vetting process has grown, it’s become a standard for businesses to invest in comprehensive background checks. 


It may be tempting to get a cheap and fast background check. However, merely getting a criminal record check from anywhere is not enough. When it comes to getting a background check for employment, choosing the right screening vendor makes every penny you put into background screening worth it. Follow these tips to ensure that you not only meet compliance requirements but also secure the best candidates for your team.

4 Tips for a Better Background Check for Employment

1. Get Only the Employment Screening Services You Need

Background checks can be incredibly in-depth and comprehensive. Decide what screening services are needed for your candidate’s role. Will they be working with sensitive data? Then it’s a good idea to run a drug screen, employment history search, education verification, and credit history report in addition to a criminal record search. Improve your background checks by choosing the right services. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Add the stuff you’ve been missing.

Some aspects of background screens may or may not apply to your client. For example, a background check for healthcare or transportation workers will look very different from those for retail employees, volunteers, or students. If the candidate will directly affect people’s safety, you need a thorough background check with a robust suite of services. For other applicants, you may only need the most basic background check.

The bottom line: it’s important to customize your background check service to fit the unique requirements of each position. Don’t overspend on unnecessary services. But you also don’t want to miss out on background check services that mitigate risk and save time and money.

2. Make Sure Your Criminal Background Checks Are Compliant

Following local, state, and federal guidelines when screening applicants is crucial. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) outlines permission and disclosure requirements. The FCRA applies to credit-reporting agencies, but it also applies to background check companies. Before running criminal background checks, employers are required to get candidates’ written consent. If they find adverse information, they’re required to inform the candidate that the results may impact the company’s hiring decision.

There are also policies set forward by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that govern what information can be reported and how it can be used by employers. It forbids the use of “bright-line” rules. An example of a bright-line rule is deciding against extending an offer to a candidate solely because he or she has a prior conviction. Before deciding, the EEOC requires that you consider the factors surrounding the conviction. How old were they? How long has it been? Have they made visible efforts to change their behavior? How relevant is the conviction to the job? If a candidate has a mark on their MVR but won’t be driving for the company, is it relevant to your hiring decision?

Before taking adverse action on the results of a background check for employment, the FCRA requires that you notify the candidate, provide them with a copy of the report, and share their summary of rights under the FCRA. This gives candidates a chance to dispute or explain any red flags uncovered on their criminal record check report. Understanding the laws that surround background checks streamlines processes and prevents costly lawsuits. 

3. Modernize Your Employment Screening 

As the world of work evolves, so does technology that increases hiring risk. It’s becoming easier for candidates to submit fraudulent credentials, create a reputation-damaging online presence, or put your systems at risk. Luckily, employment screening technology is catching up and providing defenses against these risks. Some examples of modern background check tools include:

Social Media Background Check

A professional social media check is a great way to check a candidate’s social media accounts without running the risk of breaking the law. It scans for instances of hate speech, violence, or sexually explicit behavior without revealing any information that may lead to hiring bias.

Continuous Criminal Monitoring

Employee monitoring is the best way to automate post-hire screening. It acts as a continuous background check, notifying you in near real time of a current employee’s arrest.

SSN Trace Plus

A modern social security number trace strengthens criminal background checks by checking for arrest information across the country and adding those jurisdictions to the criminal background check.

    Cybersecurity should also be a top priority, especially when running employee background checks for small businesses. Make sure you work with professional background check companies who meet your needs as a modern business.

    4. Find Someone Who Simplifies Employment Screening

    When choosing a background screening vendor, you want to find a balance between cost, speed, and accuracy. Companies who advertise a fast background check with little information about their experience should raise red flags.

    The best background screening vendor works hard to build a unique background check service that fits your company’s needs. Then, their implementation and customer service team wastes no time getting your background screens up and running. They should offer guidance along the way and use cutting-edge technology to make background screening simpler than ever for your organization.

    Some professional background check companies are certified by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), an organization that sets strict professional standards for the industry. Accredited firms comply with FCRA regulations. Using one of these organizations for your background checks makes compliance simple. Their experience in the industry enables them to recommend services, use efficient procedures, and know regulations inside and out.

    Does your current background screening vendor make things complicated? This background check checklist will help you if it’s time to reconsider.

    Pre-Employment Background Screening Practices FAQ

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    What are the risks of not doing a background check?

    Hiring someone without knowing their criminal history or verifying their qualifications is hugely risky. It can lead to high rates of turnover, putting your systems and data in jeopardy, creating a dangerous work environment, and even costly lawsuits.

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    Do you background screen all applicants?

    No matter what position you are hiring for, you should background screen the applicant. Even part-time employees, temporary or contract workers, and volunteers can do significant damage when not properly vetted.

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    How often do you need to background check?

    For some positions, it may be okay to stick to pre-employment screening. However, the best way to protect your company is to screen post-hire. For high-risk positions, consider continuous monitoring to stay on top of post-hire background checks 24/7.

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    Do all background checks show the same information?

    Nope! Depending on the background check services you choose and the scope of the search, background check reports can look quite different.

    Get Help From a Pioneer in Background Screening

    Above all, don’t cut corners when improving your background checks. Choosing the wrong employment screening company can lead to more workplace incidents and negligent hiring lawsuits. Protect your company, clients, and shareholders by working with a dependable background screener. It’s up to you to choose quality candidates, which depends on a thorough, efficient, and compliant background check.

    Ready to learn more? Let’s get you on the path to reliable pre-employment background checks. With over three decades of experience in the background screening industry and a fully FCRA-certified staff, InfoMart has the expertise to help. Reach out to an InfoMart sales representative today or read more about our services like criminal history, SSN Trace Plus, driver records, social media background checks, and more here.

    About Tammy Cohen

    Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit www.tammycohen.com.

    About InfoMart

    InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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