In years past, pre-employment background screenings required significant manpower and time. As a result, larger companies with big budgets constituted the primary users.

Though as more cost-effective and user-friendly solutions have begun to permeate the industry, small businesses also are taking advantage of background screenings to reduce hiring risks and to bring in valuable, long-term employees.

Here are five tips for leveraging background checks to help ensure you build the most capable and cohesive teams for your small business.

1. Include the Right Information

Consider the purpose of conducting background checks for your business. What information do you hope to find, and what qualities are you looking for in employees? With a clear picture of expected outcomes in mind, you can choose among many types of screenings to include in your pre-employment process.

Background checks can provide an array of information, including:

  • Basic biographical data, including current and past addresses
  • Employment history
  • Criminal record, including status as a sexual offender
  • Driving record
  • Educational background and achievements
  • Verification of references
  • Drug testing
  • Verification of professional licenses
  • Screening of social media

An experienced background screening provider can assist you with choosing the right information to include in your hiring process.

2. Create a Written Policy

Once you determine what information you’ll include in background screenings, create a policy in writing that you will share with all applicants. A written policy is the foundation of a successful background screening program and provides protection for your small business against discrimination claims.

Your policy should clearly describe the procedures used in the background screening as well as the expectation that your human resources staff members treat all applicants equally and fairly. You may have different screening requirements for different jobs within your company: For instance, a job that involves driving might require a check of applicants’ driving records, while an administrative job might not have such a requirement.

3. Keep an Eye Out for Patterns

As you gather information on employment candidates, you may begin to notice that patterns emerge with some individuals. Perhaps an applicant demonstrates a commitment to achieving success in every job, or maybe problems have surfaced throughout the candidate’s career.

By noticing patterns, you can begin to get an idea of how a specific candidate might fare within your small business. Many applicants inflate—or even falsify—information on their resumes, so verifying education, employment and other credentials is an important step in understanding the larger picture.

4. Communicate With Candidates

Employers are required to share any background information gathered with prospective employees and to disclose whether any of the information disqualifies them from hiring. Open communication with applicants is always the best policy and allows you to clear up any possible misunderstandings regarding the data you’ve collected.

Pre-employment background checks should serve as a tool to assist you in the hiring process. By discussing any questions that arise with the applicant, you use the information to your company’s best advantage.

5. Review Screening Standards Regularly

Many small businesses start conducting background checks and never take time to review the process.

A variety of factors influence the efficacy of your background screenings—and conditions change within your business, within your industry, and in the national and global business climate. In addition, regulations that may affect your hiring practices are updated frequently at the local, state and federal levels.

To ensure that your background screening process continues to meet your needs, schedule a periodic review—either quarterly or annually—that includes feedback from your HR team and other people involved in hiring. Consider working with a professional background screening firm to ensure that your process complies with the latest regulations and standards.

Get Maximum Value From Background Screenings

In small businesses, every dollar counts, and you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most from incorporating pre-employment background checks into your hiring process. To ensure that you’re complying with all applicable laws and to avoid excess pressure on your in-house HR team, consider outsourcing the process to a reputable vendor.

Author: Christian Moore is COO at Global Verification Network. He brings more than 20 years of experience to the organization. Global Verification Network specializes in helping a wide range of industries with screenings, background checks, records and verifications services. 

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