Why You Should Include Criminal Record Screening in a Background Check

You run a small business, where employees don’t take long to feel like family. Even your hiring process tends to depend on your gut and your sense of how a new hire might fit with your business. Conducting a background check and screening for a criminal record might feel a bit invasive, but there are good reasons to take these steps:

Liability: If you hire a candidate that has a criminal record, you may be opening up your business to risk that could hobble your company or even destroy it. If an employee with a history of assault, for example, attacks a customer or another employee, your company is liable. You may not be able to recover from a lawsuit related to an employee’s mistakes.

Cost: For any size business, but particularly for a small business, the cost of hiring a new employee can be draining. Conducting a thorough background check helps ensure that you have identified the right candidate and that you won’t need to go through a costly hiring process again in a few months.

Protection: If your background check and criminal record screening identify a history of fraud, theft or embezzlement, you’ll be thankful you saved your company from what may have been a targeted attempt to steal from you.

Keep in mind that you’re also protecting your other employees from the potential threat of a coworker who’s a sex offender or a violent criminal. Particularly in a small business, there may be times when employees are one-on-one in an office, so it’s important not to leave one of your employees vulnerable.  

Public Relations: If an employee acts out in a threatening or violent manner, or if your company is swindled in a way that damages your reputation, you may struggle to control the public perception of your business.

Confirmation: Doing a complete background check and criminal record screening give you peace of mind that your instincts about a person were correct. Whether it’s a nagging feeling that a person didn’t quite seem to fit their resume, or the confidence that a candidate was a perfect match for a role, your background check will help to solidify your hiring choices.

You also simply want to see that an employee is who they say they are. Whether it’s an employment history fib or an inflation of a college grade point average, it is a good idea to know whether a potential hire has a tendency to augment the truth just a bit to serve their own purposes.

Once you’ve determined that you should do a background check on a potential employee, you may wonder how to go about it. Include these considerations in your efforts to get a complete picture of your candidate:

  1. Get Beyond the Database. Access to a free database can be a starting point, but you’ll want to extend your search beyond what you can learn there. Databases may be rarely updated and the information you find may be wrong. Partner with a service that specializes in assisting with background checks.
  2. Get Permission. In order to conduct a background check, you’ll need written consent from the candidate.
  3. Understand the Laws Surrounding Background Checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects the job seeker’s privacy and offers them recourse in the event that you make a hiring decision based on the information you found during a background check. You’ll need to supply the source of the information if you determine that a criminal record or other history led you to eliminate a candidate.
  4. Supplement With Searches. Even after you receive information from a reputable service specializing in background checks, you may want to do a little searching on Google or Facebook. After all, there may be plenty of behaviors that aren’t illegal, but also don’t match the candidate as they presented themselves. For instance, if you’re running a nonprofit animal shelter, but your candidate regularly posts memes about how much they hate cats, this might be a red flag for you.
  5. Look for the Positive. In addition to looking for a criminal record or other personal details, you should also be on the lookout for signs that this is the right candidate. Maybe you find out that, for the last five years, your candidate for an accounting position has been providing free services to a local charity. You might learn that they held leadership positions in college clubs or that their Facebook feed is full of pictures of them spending time with family members.

To get started with a background check, including screening for a criminal record, visit DirtSearch. You’ll find extensive resources for checking into the history of a potential hire, protecting your company from risk and ensuring that you get the right hire in place, right from the start.