Employment Background Screening for Modern Candidates

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

January 10 2024

Since its inception, the background screening industry has evolved with the business world. Changes in legislation and regulations, workforce trends, and HR technology have impacted our new hire background check programs. Employment background check companies have taken steps to stay modern.

As Generation Z continues to enter the workforce, so do dramatic changes to office culture and employment background screening. Gen Z’s use of technology and social media has significantly impacted the workforce.

This calls for employers to take a look at their professional background check programs. Are there modern updates you’re missing in your new hire background check? Are you running a social media background check? Do you skip out on an education verification check?

To stay ahead of the curve, organizations need to adjust their screening accordingly. Here are 4 ways to ensure complete employment background screening for modern candidates.

1. Don’t Skip the Education Verification Check

Millennials are currently the most educated generation. 40% of Millennials have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is significantly more than the generations that came before them. Gen Z is on track to surpass them, with a college enrollment rate of 57% among young adults out of high school.

This means it’s more important than ever to run education background checks as part of your screening service. This step verifies that a candidate’s degree came from an accredited educational institution. 

Diploma mills, sites that churn out fake “diplomas,” are all over the internet. Anyone can get a diploma if they have PayPal and access to a decent printer.

Because of this, businesses should pay special attention to education verification checks. Be wary of applicants who offer their diploma as the only evidence of their education. A professional background check will verify education, ensuring a degree comes from an accredited institution. It also checks the level of certification earned and when the candidate graduated.


Background checks ensure that the candidates you’re hiring can meet the demands of the job. Let’s face it, at the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey, there simply isn’t enough money to hire as many people as you want, so it is crucial to ensure you hire people who meet a wide range of requirements and skill sets.

By confirming the work and educational experience of a candidate through a background check, you can make more confident hiring decisions. The more confident you are in your hires, the more you can focus on growth.

— Peter Robert, Expert Computer Solutions


  • Education verifications reveal candidates who do not meet education requirements.
  • This is increasingly important. More people are going to college, and diploma mills are on the rise.

2. Consider Amending Your Drug Tests

Times have certainly changed! Marijuana laws continue to shift rapidly across the United States.

Recreational cannabis use is legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly all states allow medicinal marijuana or products like CBD. In 2020, the United Nations reclassified cannabis as a less dangerous drug. 

Safety-sensitive industries like transportation and construction likely need to run a full panel on drug tests. However, if you operate where it’s legal, you may want to skip THC screening on a new hire’s drug test.

Marijuana tests are sensitive. THC may stay in the body for days or weeks, even though the candidate is no longer actively impaired. Plus, opinions on marijuana are rapidly changing.

Companies may lose talent during the hiring process if they don’t update their drug testing policies. It helps to look for pre-employment background check companies that offer to suppress marijuana results on drug tests.

Recreational cannabis use is legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia.


of employers planned to remove marijuana testing


  • If marijuana is legal in your state, and you aren’t in a safety-sensitive industry, your company may consider skipping marijuana screening.
  • Some drug test providers make it easy by giving you the option to suppress marijuana results.

3. A Different Approach to Criminal Record Checks

Ban-the-box laws have grown in popularity. These are regulations that prevent employers from asking job candidates about their criminal history on applications.

However, a company may still run a pre-employment criminal history check before sending a job offer. Criminal background checks tell an employer about the charge, where it took place, and the time since the initial conviction. But to ensure your professional background check is thorough, many companies are opting in to continuous criminal monitoring. This post-hire service alerts you when a current employee is arrested.

Employers should carefully consider all the factors surrounding a candidate’s criminal history. Have an honest discussion with job candidates who do not have a perfect criminal record. Ask about what happened, their rehabilitation efforts, and the crime’s relevance to the position. 

For example, say a candidate received a drug-related charge several years ago. He served his time and has since joined a sober support group. In this circumstance, his record isn’t relevant to the position, so you might choose to hire him anyway.

Using modern employment background screening tools helps us to get the whole story of a candidate. 

Continuous criminal monitoring pulls from nationwide arrest data to send near-real-time alerts if a current employee is arrested.

The information is actionable, so it’s like a real-time background check.


  • Ban the Box laws and fair chance hiring are changing the way we approach criminal background checks.
  • Employee monitoring helps. So does thinking critically about the circumstances surrounding a criminal record.

4. Recognize the Value of a Social Media Background Check

When looking for employment background screening, you may not think about social media searches. There may be concerns regarding the ethics and legality of a social media background check. However, screening a candidate’s social media the right way offers unique advantages. 

Social media background checks give a picture of who a candidate is outside an application, resume, or interview. They may also show a pattern of unethical behavior that goes against your company’s standards. Despite the benefits, searching a candidate’s social media in-house may lead to legal consequences and brand damage. Using a third-party background screening company to run a social media check ensures you only receive relevant information.

Social media screening for employment helps identify the best job candidates and it protects your reputation against risky hires. Social media searches reveal cases of potentially illegal or violent behavior, demonstrations of racism or violence, and sexually explicit behavior. New social media platforms emerge every day, and Gen Z spends a large amount of time on these sites. Social media screening is important for background checks as Gen Z joins the workforce.


  • Social media screening is becoming more important in the new world of work. It can reveal things like hate speech and illegal behaviors.
  • It’s important to go through a trusted third party for social media screening to prevent hiring bias.

21st Century Screening

Adjusting your screening program to the times may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! The right employment background screening partner will provide comprehensive background checks tailored to your business’s needs. This can make a world of difference in your hiring process. 

The business landscape will never stop evolving. A modern, efficient background screening process helps your organization keep up. At InfoMart, our FCRA-certified background check experts pay attention to trends. We’ve spent over 30 years innovating the screening industry to meet clients’ evolving needs ever since.

Have questions about background screening? Learn the truth about 7 common background check myths, or reach out to talk with an expert.

I would love to hear from you and connect; add me on LinkedIn to keep in touch!

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.

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, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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