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3 min read

How Far Do Background Checks Go?

how far do background checks go

Two major priorities for any employer include keeping business booming and keeping the office culture calm & focused. There’s no way to ever guarantee you get one right, let alone both, but a major tool that helps you attempt both at once is a pre-employment background check. But what exactly does that cover? And what’s the best way to run one?

We’re about to break down the whole process for you, along with detailing all the corners of an applicant’s history that it touches. A background check is not a one-size-fits-all solution, meaning to make yours as efficient as possible, it’s important to pick and choose the screenings that work best for your job. This way, you can grab all the information that’s relevant, without wasting time or resources on what isn’t. Most importantly, no matter what information you’re screening for, we’ll show you pointers for how to screen applicants the correct way, so you don’t get in trouble doing it.

Background Check Basics

When ordering a background check on most any applicant, across any industry, the most obvious place to start would be an employment history search. This confirms that your candidate really has worked where they say they’ve worked, and also held the positions they say they’ve held. It’s a no-brainer of a screening to conduct if you’re looking to feel confident that the person you want to hire can do exactly what they say they can.

The catch to conducting an employment history search is that, despite being one of the most practical screenings for any industry, it can also be one of the toughest to do on your own. Oftentimes you’re left at the mercy of managers at other companies, who may or may not get back to you within a reasonable timeframe to confirm what you need – or there may be no relevant point of contact there left who even can. In addition, many companies use third-party verification services, which require individuals to set up an account and pay a fee (sometimes as high as $75 per candidate) to retrieve that information. For such a foundational screening, it can be deceptively complex.

To a lesser extent, the same could be said for another foundational screening – the criminal background check. While you may think that paying to screen a candidate against the National Criminal Database counts as a one-and-done approach to this facet, that database can be prone to missing many crimes, for one reason or another. To get the complete picture of a candidate’s history, it’s recommended that you not only run a criminal screening nationally, but locally as well.

A background service like AccuSourceHR has contacts at local courthouses across the country, and can retrieve deep results within targeted local scans to match targeted results within deep, national or state-level scans. AccuSourceHR can also fast-forward your employment history search, automating the most time-consuming portions so that you don’t lose candidates to faster competitors. Whether you work with us, another service, or forge ahead on your own, however, don’t short-change either of these steps in your background check process. They’re basic for a reason.

Background Checks That Go Further

To dive deeper into a candidate’s history, consider some of these screenings. Depending on your industry, some may also be considered essential:

  • Social Security Number Trace – This can help better target any basic screening you conduct that follows by retrieving additional names tied to a candidate’s SSN, along with gaps in their residence history.
  • DMV Records – A pile-up of certain tickets (for instance, five unpaid seatbelt violations) can have major implications about a candidate’s competency or culture fit potential, beyond any resume’s more obvious history
  • Credit Check – While this one’s not relevant to all jobs, it’s a perfect fit for any that involve money allocation

Background Check Compliance

The catch to some of the advanced screenings mentioned above, and even the basic screenings outlined before, is that a candidate must fully consent to sharing all the information you’re looking for. As an employer, conducting a background check is often tied to preventing liability, so make sure you’re in total compliance with federal, state and local guidelines while conducting each and every screening – or else you ironically risk just as much liability, if not more.

Again, working with a background check service like AccuSourceHR comes in handy here. We're is staffed by an award-winning team of experts on hand to advise you on everything you are and aren’t allowed to screen for. With us, compliance comes standard, no matter how deep you want your background checks to go. We conduct screenings with your safety and your candidates’ safety equally in mind, and that includes legal safety.

Wrapping Up: How Far Do Background Checks Go

How far you can take a background check often rests on compliance laws where you do business. In general, running a criminal history and employment check are always safe, so long as you communicate ahead of time to your applicant. Beyond that, the deeper you dig, the more regulations you need to be following.

Reach out to AccuSourceHR to get a customized list of all the screenings safe for you to conduct, along with the easiest ways to conduct them. We’re here to take your screenings as far as you like, while still protecting you from overstepping essential boundaries.

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