The obvious answer to the question can small businesses run background checks on applicants is yes. Not only can they, they should. Every time they look to hire someone. If you run a background check on applicants, you can learn much more about the appropriateness of hiring this person than to simply determine if they were recently convicted of a felony. Truth be told, very few applicants will be recent felons, so despite being an important part of the background check, it is just a small portion of the information that you should be receiving and considering.
Because small businesses usually lack a sophisticated HR department doesn’t mean that the running a background check on applicants needs to be a hassle, time waster or run-away expense. It can not only be easy and affordable; it can also be exceptionally helpful in weeding out unqualified and risky applicants. Some of the key things to consider before you begin to run background checks on applicants are as follows:
Can an employer run background checks on applicants using a free or instant background check like you see on TV or find on Google?
The true answer is maybe, but that maybe comes with great risk. We all understand that as a small business owner and entrepreneur, you take charge and get things done. You have that application or resume in your hands and you can quickly jump on the web, get out your credit card and get it done before the applicant has had a chance to drive home from the interview. There are two big reasons to not do that.
The first reason not to use the el-cheapo internet site to conduct a background check is because many of those sites operate outside of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which is the law the pertains to using background checks on applicants and employees. Many of these sites are nothing more that bots that scrape the internet for possible information that matches, in some way, the name you put in them. They don’t find actual records very often, they are full or unrelated and erroneous information and somewhere in the tiny print of their disclaimer, it says that you can’t use the report for hiring purposes anyway. Violating the FRCA, if you simply failed to understand what you were buying is a big, expensive problem. The EEOC and plaintiff lawyers are happy to come calling when you use the wrong data. Buyer beware!
The second reason not to jump in and run a quick background check on applicants is that you need the applicant’s/employee’s permission. The FCRA was designed to give protections to applicants and employees to keep inaccurate information out of their consumer reports. The FCRA also regulates who can provide consumer report information, what reasons someone can obtain that information and who can obtain that information. It also mandates that “consumers” (your applicant or employee) can see and dispute the information that is found in those reports. These are some really good laws for everyone, and you want to make sure to get formal, written permission, also called consent, to run a background check the correct way.
Will hiring a professional background screening provider to run background checks on applicants take a lot of time and money?
No. Today much of the “hassle” factor and busy work has been eliminated from the employee background screening process. You can easily get affordable access to a provider who can set you up with an account in minutes and provide you with the tools to automate much of the process and focus on running your business. These quality providers (if you need help finding the right employee background check provider, click here!) do cost more than the $19.95 junk background check sites you see advertising on late night TV, but the cost, both in dollars and time, is very small in comparison to hiring the wrong applicant. These firms, like Background Check Central, handle nearly all of the administrative, regulatory and processing busy work involved when you run a background check on applicants.
Why I do I want more information than a criminal record check when I run a background check on an applicant I’m looking to hire?
There are many types of records that one can consider when hiring a new employee. Many applicants come to you claiming to have made certain accomplishments in their prior employment, to have obtained a specific education or certification, to offer you real, unbiased references, to be financially stable and the list goes on and on. Unless your position doesn’t require any qualifications at all, you would likely want to know if an applicant was truthful with you and is actually the person their resume makes them out to be. Further, many types of records have potential predictive value for you to consider.
Applicant and employee background checks don’t have to break the bank, slow you down or create a bunch of busywork. You can easily obtain a turn-key applicant background checking service from a qualified consumer reporting agency that specializes in assisting small businesses.