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February 25, 2015

7 Reasons Why Employers Should Check Their Employees' Backgrounds

BackgroundWhy are background checks necessary? It's a question that many employers have asked over the years. If your business is launching its first hiring process, it may be at the very forefront of your mind. But employee background checks are absolutely pivotal, no matter your industry, and here are seven reasons why.

1. It Highlights Relevant Criminal Charges

This one is obvious. Most employers run background checks on their workers or applicants because they want to know if those people have anything dark in their pasts. Criminal activity isn't always relevant to the hiring process. For instance, if an applicant has a single drug charge that is 30 years old, that shouldn't have much impact on whether or not you hire them. However, other charges can absolutely impact how well an applicant fits a job. A person with a history of violent crime, for instance, may pose a threat in a position involving customer service, while someone with two DUIs should obviously not be hired to a driving job.

2. It Helps To Flag Dangerous Applicants

Plain and simple, some applicants pose a threat to the physical safety of their customers, their co-workers, and their employers. Murderers, rapists, individuals convicted of assault: these are just a few of the types of people that most employers don't want on their team. And for good reason – if an employer hires a violent criminal, and that person later hurts or kills a customer or co-worker, the employer can be held liable for the incident. Background checks can prevent this liability and stop the violent incident from ever happening by flagging individuals with histories of violent crime.

3. It Reveals Dishonesty In New Applicants

Nowadays, at least half of the people you interview for a job are probably lying to you in some way. Sometimes, the lies are small, like a tweaked date or job title on a resume. Sometimes, they're huge, like a list of skills that the person says they have when they actually don't, or a college degree that has been imagined out of thin air. A thorough background screening—including reference checks and verifications of employment and education—can sniff out these fibs and tell you which applicants are honest and which are not. Since no employer wants a worker who is so obviously willing to lie to them, this information can be invaluable to making a good hiring decision.

4. It Can Let You Know If An Employee Is Qualified

Background checks don't just look into criminal history. On the contrary, reference checks and verification checks are a huge part of the background screening process. This may mean speaking with employers to verify job titles and responsibilities. Or it could involve checking with universities and certification programs to make sure that an applicant has the degrees and professional licenses he or she claims. Either way, these verification checks are a valuable and important way to make sure than an applicant is as qualified for a position as their resume makes it seem.

5. It Is A Legal Tool To Learn More About Your Applicants

Hiring a new employee is a daunting process. The job market these days is still tough, which means the average employer will receive dozens—if not hundreds—of applications for each employment opportunity that opens up. With so many applicants, the process of trimming down the serious candidates, and then choosing between them, becomes even more complex and competitive.

Because of this, employers need to use every legal tool at their disposal to learn about their applicants and make the correct hiring choices. Background checks—so long as you observe the rules laid forth by the EEOC and the FCRA—are entirely legal, and better yet, will be expected by most applicants. So use them to demystify the hiring process and find the right person for the job.

6. It Keeps Existing Employees Honest And Accountable

Background checks should not just be used on new applicants. On the contrary, there is incredible value in regularly running background checks on existing employees, as well. Generally, employees who are convicted of a crime are not going to inform their bosses or HR reps about the crime. Quite simply, they are worried that revealing a new criminal conviction—whether it's for petty theft, drug possession, driving under the influence of alcohol, or assaulting someone—could cost them their job.

When a company requires regular background checks of their workers, though, employees will be more likely to be honest about any new criminal activity on their record than they would be otherwise. They know that their sins will eventually be revealed by a background check, so they opt to be honest with their employers. This kind of honesty and accountability is a positive thing, no matter the business or industry, and is yet another good reason to make background checks a key part of your organization.

7. It Saves You Money And Time In The Long Run

Some employers drag their feet over employee background screenings, simply because they don't want to spend the money necessary to run them. But background checks will save your business both money and time in the long run, and for a variety of different reasons. For one thing, by weeding out the dangerous applicants, they reduce the chances of your company being held liable for an accident or crime. Such liability canlead to costly lawsuits and can have a long-term, detrimental impact on your company's brand name and image. Needless to say, dodging all of that with an inexpensive background check is a wise business decision.

In addition, background checks save money and time simply by helping businesses make the right hiring decisions. For employers, the hiring process is very stressful and time-consuming. Between reviewing resumes, holding interviews, and training new hires, the entire process can cost a lot in terms of lost productivity. With background checks, you maximize your chances of finding the right person—thereby minimizing the likelihood that you will have to conduct another hiring process in a few months when your initial hire doesn't work out!


Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

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