background-240These days, it’s rare to have firsthand knowledge of a new hire, thanks to the mobility of our society. And the days are gone when an employer would dare to hire based solely on a grade point average and a transcript from a school or college.

Today, a Maine-based employer needs to know more about applicants. Otherwise, the employer risks hiring problems. To protect your small business and its staff members, job applicants need to be extensively pre-screened. There is fierce competition for a limited number of jobs, and business owners need to be aware of applicants who may exaggerate and embellish the experience they have.

For busy employers, background checks on applicants can seem like a luxury, a task that requires more resources or time than they have available. But there are three major reasons that failing to do good background checks could damage your bottom line, your reputation, and your business:

  1. You could end up wasting time and money on a poor hiring choice.
  2. Dishonest employees may steal from your business. And imagine the damage to your business reputation if an employee is caught stealing from one of your clients or customers.
  3. A negligent hiring lawsuit could ruin your business. Your business could be liable If an employee hurts someone while they are on the job, or if their poor work causes injury.

An employee’s level of responsibility should determine how involved and extensive a background check should be. Some examples of roles that have a particular liability and for which background checks should be routine are:

  • Employees who have access to people’s homes or offices, such as cleaning or maintenance employees or real estate agents.
  • Men and women who work with children.
  • Employees who have access to cash.
  • People who greet the public, such as receptionists.
  • Anyone who deals with clients or customers on a regular basis.
  • Franchisees, who are entrusted with your name and log

During the background check, there are a number of things that are commonly checked:

  • Criminal record.
  • Credit Report.
  • Driving record.
  • Education.
  • Professional licenses.
  • Judgments or tax liens.
  • Drug screening.
  • A Social Security number search.
  • Workers compensation history. Legally, you can only check into an applicant’s workers comp history after a job offer has been made, to avoid violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Past and present residence information.
  • Past employment verification and work record.

It is possible to gather this information yourself, but the process is likely to be faster and more cost effective if you use a third-party background screening service. Another way to reduce costs is to screen in phases. For example, a driving record and Social Security check could be run on anyone being brought in for an interview. Candidates returning for a second interview could have prior employment and education information verified. Checks on criminal and financial histories could only be done on the finalists.

As valuable as background checks are, it’s important to remember that potential employees have rights. You must have the individual’s written permission to obtain a credit report. An applicant also has a right to see reports that are sent to the employer and to challenge any negative information. State laws and federal laws limit the information you can legally obtain. Be cautious. Follow the letter of the law with information obtained from a background screening. Consult with Filler and Associates for more information about how to handle background checks properly.