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There are many things I think are frivolous or outdated in the hiring world, but background checks are not one of them. A background check can save you a lot of time, hassles and money and not doing one could cost a lot more than some petty cash. As a building products recruiter, I have had numerous things come up in a background check that surprised me. Even when I think someone is telling me the truth, you never can totally know. Here are my thoughts on background checks.

Why Run A Background Check

Maybe it seems like too much work, too complex or just too expensive to run background checks on each prospective employee. You think you’re a good judge of character and you’d never hire someone who’d steal from your company or wreck a company vehicle. Or heaven forbid, actually harm someone else.

You’re probably right, at least most of the time. But this is an instance where what you don’t know really can hurt your business.

Even in the residential building products industry and even if your employees won’t be handling cash or dealing with the company’s finances, it matters. There are much worse potential losses than having a little petty cash stolen. There has been an increase in lawsuits for negligent hiring practices and your company could be at risk.

For instance, a restaurant hired a delivery person without doing a background check. It turns out he had a prior conviction for assault and an arrest for stalking. Even worse, the arrest was for stalking someone who had been a customer of a previous employer! Because they didn't know his background, he was out delivering products when he assaulted another customer. The restaurant was sued for negligent hiring practices.

Even if nothing this bad ever happens to your customers, employees or company, it is still important to do a background check. Companies that do background checks are much less prone to employee theft or other issues than companies that don't.

How To Run A Background Check

You can do some of the legwork yourself, but frankly, it is time-consuming. There are companies out there that specialize in background checks and I highly recommend you check into some. I have had good experiences with GoodHire.com – they are focused in the small to mid-sized business range and very thorough. I would suggest you check out other companies, that is just one I have had a good experience with.

Make sure whoever you hire will give you an SSN trace, address history, national criminal database search, county criminal court check, domestic terrorist watch list check and sex offender list checks. You want this to be as thorough as possible.

You can also see if they offer employment and education verification to make sure your candidates are truthful about their background. If you need someone to drive a company vehicle, request motor vehicle records. If employees need a professional license or certification, you can also add those.

Ideally, a thorough background check will cost you less than $150. If you are lucky, that same amount would buy an hour of a high-priced lawyer's time if something happened due to your negligence.

Talking To Prospective Employees

I would say most people who are out looking for white or gray-collar jobs these days know about background checks, but it never hurts to talk about it. Just let the candidates know what testing is required and what you will be checking into. Have them sign a waiver acknowledging what you are checking. And, it never hurts to reiterate that any falsehoods will deem them ineligible for hire.

I usually like to wait until I am pretty positive this is the person I am going to hire. Then, we have them do the drug and background checks all at the same time. You can still make a job offer while awaiting results – just make it contingent on what comes back.

A background check shouldn't take more than a few days, so it doesn't need to throw too much of a delay into the process.

A background check is an absolute must for any prospective employees – unless you have an appetite for risk!

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