Complete Background Checks for Modern Candidates

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

April 7 2021

Since its inception, the background screening industry has continually evolved with the everchanging business world. Adhering to new legislation and regulations, following workforce trends, and developing cutting-edge HR technology have completely changed how a candidate is screened to provide businesses with a  comprehensive background check. 

As a whole new generation enters the workforce, so does another dramatic change in the corporate landscape and background screening. For many years, Millennials were top of mind when it came to hiring, but now is the time that we must begin to look at Generation Z. The oldest Zoomers are beginning to graduate from college, leading the charge in the new workforce shift. In order to stay ahead of the curve, organizations need to adjust their screening accordingly. Here are 4 tips for a complete background checks for modern candidates:

1. Don’t Skip Education Verification

Millennials currently hold the mantle as the most educated generation. Four-in-ten Millennials aged 25 to 37 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is significantly greater than the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen X at the same age. Generation Z is on track to eventually surpass them, but for now, Millennials carry the title. From a screening perspective, this means it’s more important than ever to verify that a candidate’s education came from an accredited education institution. 

Diploma mills that churn out fake “diplomas” are everywhere on the internet. Anyone can get a degree if they have PayPal and access to a decent printer. Some of these websites are so convincing they even fool would-be students who genuinely hoped to get a quality education. In the modern era, businesses should pay special attention to education verifications and be wary of applicants who only offer their diploma as evidence. Determine that the degree came from an accredited institution, and verify the level of certification earned and when the candidate graduated.

2. Consider Skipping THC Screens

Times have certainly changed! Marijuana laws have shifted rapidly in the past ten years. Recreational cannabis use is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia. 35 states have legalized medicinal marijuana or marijuana derivatives, such as CBD. The United Nations recently reclassified it as a less dangerous drug. 

If your business operates in areas where recreational marijuana is legal, you may want to consider skipping THC screening on a new hire’s drug test. Marijuana tests are notoriously sensitive; THC stays in the body for days or weeks, even though the candidate is no longer actively impaired. Safety-sensitive industries such as transportation and construction can’t afford not to do a full drug panel, but other industries may want to consider skipping marijuana screens. Considering its ever-growing popularity, companies that don’t consider candidates who use marijuana may soon find themselves lacking talent. Alternatively, work with a screening company who can suppress marijuana test results in jurisdictions like Nevada or NYC.

3. Always Check Criminal Records

Ban the Box laws have grown in popularity. These regulations prevent employers from asking about criminal history on a job application, so a pre-employment criminal history check is a necessity when considering offering a candidate a position. A criminal background check will tell an employer the charge, where it took place, and how long it has been since the initial conviction. For truly complete background checks, many companies are opting in to continuous criminal monitoring, a post-hire service that alerts employers when a current employee has been arrested anywhere in the United States.

Employers should carefully consider all the factors surrounding a candidate’s criminal history. Have an honest discussion with your applicant about their record, their rehabilitation efforts, and its relevance to the position. A drug-related charge from several years ago, for example, doesn’t have much relevance if the candidate has served their time and has since joined a sober support group. Each applicant is unique, as are their circumstances. Utilizing screening tools provides a complete background check and helps you see the bigger picture. 

4. Recognize the Value of Social Media Screening

When developing a screening program for your organization, social media screening likely isn’t top of mind. There may be concerns regarding the ethics and legality of such a search, but it does offer unique advantages. In addition to showcasing who a candidate is outside of an application, resume, or interview, it may uncover a pattern of unethical behavior that doesn’t align with your company’s standards. Bearing that in mind, conducting a social media screen on your own can lead to legal and ethical consequences. Using a third-party screening company can provide a comprehensive social media screen while remaining within the confines of the law.

Social media screening not only helps identify the best candidates—it also protects your reputation against risky ones. Social media searches reveal potentially illegal or violent behavior, demonstrations of racism or violence, and sexually explicit behavior, all while maintaining the applicant’s privacy. New social media platforms become popular every day; a comprehensive background check including social media screening will be an invaluable tool as Gen Z enters the workforce.


21st Century Screening 

Adjusting your screening program for the changing times may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! The right screening partner can create a comprehensive background check process specific to your business’s needs, making a world of difference in your hiring procedures. The business landscape will never stop evolving and it is vital to have a modern, efficient screening process for your organization to go along with it. By utilizing these tips, you will ensure the efficacy of your background screening process.  Still have questions about background screening? Learn the truth about 7 common background check myths.

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

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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