A background check can be used for many different types of identity and history verifications, but as background check offerings have evolved with digitization, options can be misleading or confusing for business founders, hiring teams, or landlords. Many may not realize how comprehensive or accurate a particular type of check is for potential hires, or they may waste time and money on a check that is too advanced for a position’s needs. Knowing when to use a more sophisticated, in-depth background check or just a quick screening can protect against poor decisions.
Keep It Simple: Basic Background Checks
The most basic background checks usually scan public records for criminal history, national criminal databases, the sex offender registry, and sometimes address and credit history. They are useful for screening for tenants and lower level employees. Basic background checks through a verified screening process can also be utilized for seasonal hiring positions that typically have greater turnover and less need for in-depth verifications.
However, background checks are not one-size-fits-all. Especially if a simple background check is free, it is essential to look at the details of what it supposedly includes, whether it is legally compliant, and also how the screening is conducted. These factors can make a substantial difference in hiring, tenant selection, and legal liabilities. Even for basic screenings, it is a best practice to use a qualified background check process to prevent fraud or data theft, legal violations, negligent hiring, or other damages.
High-Risk Hiring: Benefits of Advanced Background Checks
Advanced background checks must take greater measures to ensure information collected on a candidate is relevant and thorough since these checks are usually used for more high-risk hires. These screenings check multiple up-to-date sources, and the company conducting the background check may even be an accredited member of organizations like the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). These types of checks are important for positions like executive directors, security officials, C-suite executives, and other high level hires where the possibility of poor hiring and rehiring could cost a company significant time, legal issues, and money.
Certainly, advanced background screenings have higher standards for the basics like criminal background checks, but advanced checks could also include additional reference points like social media screens.
According to a previous CareerBuilder survey, “Seven in ten employers (70 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates during the hiring process.” Social media checks require adherence to strict guidelines, and this deeper screening can be helpful in understanding more about the person who is applying. A quality background check company can help ensure rules for these checks are followed, as well as offer a personal touch to help a company get to know a prospect better.
Business News Daily says social media checks can help a company discern culture fit, personality, passion, skills, and potentially violent or sexist rhetoric. Social media checks are useful for higher-tier jobs--or jobs that work with more vulnerable populations such as children or disabled individuals where a specific personality and skills are more imperative for the job.
Advanced background checks can also include or compare:
- Person Search + Address History
- National Criminal Database With Alias
- Sex Offender Database
- Global Security Watch List
- County Criminal Courthouse Search
Beyond the Basics: Education and Employment Verification
In-depth confirmation of candidate history beyond legal and social concerns also set advanced background checks apart. A recent hiring survey explained the degree to which candidates fabricate information about their personal background: “85 percent of employers surveyed uncovered a lie or misrepresentation on a candidate's resume or job application during the screening process—up from 66 percent five years ago…[and] only about half--49 percent--of employers check applicants’ education credentials.” Independently verifying a candidate’s resume and qualifications is essential for companies trying to protect their interests.
Education verification assures an employer that the most common falsifications do not occur, whether the credential is an outright untruth or unaccredited degree. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “the risks to an organization that doesn't verify education are potentially many, from a loss of internal and external credibility to fraudulent behavior manifesting in job performance.”
Luckily, the horror stories of candidates, such as a top executive at Bausch and Lomb falsifying their resume, can be avoided by conducting an educational verification through an advanced background check. These screenings could confirm:
- That the place of education truly exists.
- The school is accredited by a trustworthy accrediting body.
- The candidate attended the school during the time period claimed.
- A degree was actually granted to the candidate as claimed.
- The degree fits the qualifications of the position.
- Whether or not an applicant worked where they claimed to work.
- The start and stop dates for employment at the company.
- Titles and responsibilities held.
- An applicant’s previous salary - (However, in some states using this information for a background check is illegal as it has been used for discriminatory hiring practices.)
- The reason the applicant quit their old job. (In some states, employment verification cannot show this information.)
- If the applicant is eligible for rehire. (Certain states prohibit employment verification checks to use this information.)
Education and employment verification may not indicate the full picture about a candidate, but the advanced information can certainly inform hiring teams throughout interviews and decision making processes.
Advanced background checks factoring these various verifications can cost between $80-$100 and take 1-5 business days -- possibly more depending on the specific circumstances. However, paying for a high caliber service and the wait ensures accuracy and a thorough search. Companies trying to determine whether to use a basic or advanced background check should learn the basics of developing a background check policy to protect company, candidate and employees.