Background checks can often seem overwhelming, but don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Here are some basic tips to help you as you create your company’s screening processes.

Employers must have an applicant’s permission to run a background check. Permission must be granted in a separate form from an applicant before a company can run a background check. This form can be provided to you by your background screening service provider.

There is no single database that covers all criminal background checks. This is one of the biggest misconceptions, often fueled by television shows. The truth is that criminal records are located in various databases and each state does it a little differently. It is much more in-depth than simply typing in an applicant’s name.

Not all applicants will require the same background check. Depending on the position you are hiring for, along with past addresses, educational background, etc., each applicants background check could look a little different.

Not everyone is honest on their resume. Many candidates lie, whether it is a big one such as education or a small one to close an employment gap, to have a better chance at being hired. Pre-employment background checks will help reveal this information.

Ban the box laws are becoming commonplace. In the last few years many states have passed legislations prohibiting potential employers from asking about a candidate’s past criminal history until after a conditional job offer is in place. It is important to know the laws in your state.

Criminal background checks are not the only kind of background screen. Criminal background screens are the first screen we think of, but there are also sex offender registry checks, driving record checks, employment history verifications, educational verifications, professional license checks and more. Each company can benefit from different checks. Working closely with your background screening company to determine what is best for you is ideal.

Reference checks are a great addition to background screens. Reference check questions dive deeper into an applicant’s work history for pre-employment screening. Contacting past supervisors, co-workers, and others will help gain insight into the applicant’s quality of work, character, strengths, etc.

Social media searches are not background checks. Learning about an applicant through social media is not the same as a background check. It doesn’t qualify as due diligence and will not protect you from a liability if the applicant commits a crime. As social media evolves, the EEOC is discouraging the use of social media background checks since they can reveal discriminatory information including religion, political affiliation, etc.


Don’t stop once you have hired. Ongoing checks for existing employees are a vital part of keeping your staff, company and clients safe. Create a policy to check employees every few years to ensure ongoing safety.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about your company’s background screening policies, call your Essential Screens consultant.