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The Risks of Neglecting to Conduct a Background Check

Background checks have become an integral part of modern-day hiring processes. As companies try to minimize the risk of hiring potentially harmful candidates, conducting background checks has become necessary. But with so much information available, what should employers look for when conducting background checks? Here’s what you need to know to ensure that you get the most out of your background checks.

Who Needs Background Checks?

Before diving into what you should look for in a background check, it’s essential to understand who needs them. Typically, companies that are in industries that deal with sensitive information, such as finance, healthcare, and technology, require background checks as a standard hiring practice. It's also essential for jobs that require interactions with vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and the disabled. Finally, jobs with highly regulated industries, such as transportation or defense, almost always require some level of background checking.

While background checks are typically conducted during the hiring process, they can also be conducted on existing employees when they are up for a promotion or a move to a new department. Finally, some companies conduct background checks on contractors or vendors who have access to sensitive information or technologies.

What To Look For In A Background Check?

When conducting a background check, several aspects come together to provide a complete picture of the individual you are hiring. Here are some critical elements that you should look for when conducting a background check.

Criminal Records

One of the most crucial, and often primary, elements of a background check is the criminal record. The criminal history of the candidate will reveal if they have a history of violent or problematic behavior. It will also show if they have been previously convicted for any offenses that could impact their job or if they have any charges pending against them.

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Employment History

The employment history of a candidate helps employers understand their work experience and qualifications. It can verify the claims made on resumes and job applications, especially the length of time the candidate says they worked at each previous job. An employment history check can also reveal patterns in the candidate’s job history, such as whether they've often switched jobs, which could indicate instability.

Education Verification

Education verification is essential, especially for industries where specific educational qualifications are required to perform a job. Verifying a candidate's degree, certification, or diploma can confirm that they indeed have the qualifications they claim to have. It can help you avoid hiring candidates who have falsified information on their resumes or job applications.

Reference Checks

Reference checks allow you to validate the candidate's employment history and see how they performed in previous jobs. Speaking to former employers and colleagues can help you gain a better understanding of how the candidate worked with others, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and whether they are likely to perform well in the job they are applying for.

Credit History

A credit check is not always necessary, but it can be an essential tool for some hiring managers. It can reveal patterns in the candidate's finances that could impact their job. For example, if the candidate has a history of delinquency or bankruptcy, it could indicate a lack of personal financial responsibility which could be problematic if the job requires handling finances. However, it's important to note that you must get written permission from the candidate before conducting a credit check.

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How To Conduct A Background Check

Conducting a background check requires navigating various regulations and requirements. As such, it's often best to outsource background checks to professional background screening companies. Such companies have access to specialized databases and know the requirements for conducting a background check legally.

If you choose to do background checks in-house, make sure you follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which outlines the rules and regulations for conducting background checks.


In conclusion, background checks are an essential tool for modern-day hiring processes. Employers should conduct background checks to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. Critical elements of a background check include criminal records, employment history, education verification, reference checks, and credit history.

It's important to navigate the various regulations and requirements when conducting background checks, so it's often best to outsource the process to professional background screening companies. When conducting background checks, always ensure that you follow the FCRA guidelines.

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