When employers are hiring new employees, they don’t assume the worst and believe that everyone they interview is a criminal or has a delinquent past. However, background checks serve as a final step in the hiring process to ensure that potential employees don’t have a suspicious crime record that could hurt their company.
Imagine this, you’re a small home service business owner looking to hire a new construction worker. You go through the process and find an employee that looks like the perfect fit. You send an offer, they accept, and they start working for you. However, over the course of a few months, you realize your books aren’t adding up, and sufficient sums of revenue are missing. You finally determine it was your new hire, and you fire them. But could this have been prevented? If the employee had a dark past filled with theft, forgery, and other infractions, a background check would have informed you, so you wouldn’t have had to face an unfortunate scenario like this one.
How do background checks work – and what do they include?
Whether you’re a new business owner or have been in the industry for decades, one thing that doesn’t change is hiring new employees. Either your business grows and you need to expand your bandwidth or an employee leaves and you need to fill their position. If you’re in the process of hiring, it’s wise to invest in a background check service so you hire the right candidate.
Below, we’ll go over what a background check is and why they show. And, most importantly, we’ll go into which background check services that are worth trying. You can also use the jump links below to navigate to a section that may have the answer you’re looking for.
What is a background check?
The answer to “what is a background check?” is relatively simple. A background check is often used by employers, as well as landlords, lenders, and other institutions, to determine if you are who you really are. One of the biggest hiring mistakes business owners make when combing through new applicants is failing to conduct a background check. A background check will look at criminal history, driving history, education history, living history, credit history, and more, depending on the type of background check used to validate a person’s identity.
If you’re an employer, looking at the past history of potential applicants will allow you to determine whether they’re a worthy candidate for your company. If you own a construction business that utilizes heavy machinery and vehicles, you may not want to hire someone with a poor driving record. Or, if you own a business that has government contracts to work in schools, hiring someone who’s placed on the sex offender registry may not be a good idea.
On the other hand, if you’re an employee looking for a job, you can always get a personal background check to see what employers may see when they look into your background. This will allow you to make any corrections if there’s false information, which will enable you to gain more access to potential jobs you may want.
How do background checks work?
While we’d like to believe interviewees are completely honest when they submit their resume, cover letter, and meet in person, sometimes that’s just not the case. A potential candidate may have a fantastic resume with excellent credentials, but can turn out being a complete fraud, just to land a job. Before you risk hiring an employee that may not be who they say they are, it’s crucial to conduct a background check.
A recent study from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 73 percent of employers conduct background checks on their applicants. Not only is running a background check a good practice for ensuring you have top-tier workers, but a background check can also leave you out of legal trouble.
Background checks work by running an applicant’s Social Security Number through an online database that looks for all of the information that’s associated with them. Because a Social Security number is a personal identifier, having an applicant’s name, date of birth, and Social Security number will allow background check services to complete a thorough search.
What does a background check do? A background check verifies the applicant’s name and date of birth and can collect information from public records, such as:
- Marriage Records
- Divorce records
- Living records
- Lawsuits and court records
- Criminal history
- Phone numbers related to the applicant
- People associated with the applicant
- Car registration
- Driving records
- Sex offender registry
- Work history
- Results from drug tests
While more basic background checks may not collect information from all of these public records, you will usually receive the important information such as criminal history, driving history, living history, and sex offender registry results.
Who can request a background check?
Realistically, anyone. As long as you have the name of a person, you will be able to run a background check. It may be hard finding the person you’re looking for, so more information, such as an address, date of birth, and social security number can help you narrow down who you’re looking for. However, although anyone can run a background check, there are specific laws regarding employees requesting a background check, which we discuss in the next section.
But, if you’re a person wondering if you should hire a new babysitter or if a new person you just met is safe to date, you can usually request a background check to keep yourself protected and informed.
What are some best practices for requesting background checks?
If you’re an employer and use an outside agency or service to conduct a background check on an applicant, they must abide by the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The laws outlined by both federal commissions state that:
The employer must tell the applicant in a standalone document that they are going to conduct a background check to make a decision regarding their potential employment. To continue with the background check, the applicant must provide written permission. If written permission is not received, the employer cannot conduct a background check.
If the employer decides they may not hire an applicant or promote or keep an employee based on the results from the background check, they must provide the applicant or employee with a copy of their background check report and a “Summary of Rights.” This will allow the applicant or employee to contact the reporting agency to clear up any mistakes that may be found on the background check report.
If the employer decides not to hire an applicant or promote or keep an employee from the results provided from a criminal history report or credit report, they must tell the applicant or employee orally, electronically, or in writing.
Employers cannot make a decision based on an applicant’s skin color, sex, race, genetic information, national origin, family medical history, disability, religion, or age if they’re 40-years-old or older.
These laws, as well as other laws and regulations pertaining to consumer information held by consumer reporting agencies, are outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
What types of background checks are there?
Now that you know the answer to the questions, “what is a background check?”, “what does a background check show?”, and, “how do background checks work?”, as well as laws that affect background checks, it’s time to dive into the different types of background checks that are available to you. While there are a variety of different types of background checks you can utilize, we’ll narrow it down to a few.
As a home service business owner, these are the types of background checks you should consider using when hiring employees: Pre-employment background checks, criminal history background checks, professional license background checks, fingerprint background check, and FBI background checks. Below, we’ll go over the specifics of each type of background check.
Pre-employment background check
A pre-employment background check is the standard background check most businesses take when hiring an employee. A pre-employment background check gathers all the necessary information, such as criminal history, education history, driving history, and employment history. Additionally, a pre-employment background check can include a drug test. This is commonly used by businesses where the operation of motor vehicles is prevalent, such as most home service businesses.
The last thing you want as an employer is for an employee with a history of drug use operating dangerous machinery and harming themselves, others, or valuable property. Not only will this result in dissatisfied customers, but you’ll most likely face a lawsuit as well.
Criminal history background check
Almost all background checks include a criminal history report. To obtain the criminal history report of a job applicant, a background check agency will use the applicant’s Social Security Number to uncover any pending criminal cases, misdemeanors, and incarcerations. Additionally, it’s worth noting that some states have their own background check laws that forbid access to disclosed convictions after a certain period of time. Depending on the state you operate in, you may not be able to review the records of a candidate that are past a certain date.
Professional license background check
An important background check many home service business owners should consider is a professional license background check. If you’re in the home service business industry, your employees may be responsible for holding certain licenses and certifications. For example, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians usually need to work a certain amount of hours as an apprentice to become a journeyman and pass a series of state or federal tests pertaining to their trade.
Unfortunately, some applicants might lie on their resumes, and may not hold any valid licenses at all. So, whether you’re hiring HVAC technicians, pest control professionals, plumbers, electricians, or any type of employee requiring a license, make sure they actually hold one.
Fingerprint background check
Another type of background check is a fingerprint background check. With a fingerprint background check, an applicant must submit a fingerprint by going to a fingerprinting technician, which will be run through the FBI
Database, and databases used by other law agencies. With a fingerprint background check, information such as criminal background information and personal information. While not required by home service businesses, a fingerprint background check may prove useful if you perform a lot of contracted work on government buildings, schools, and other public buildings.
FBI background check
If your home service company has government contracts, your employees may need to go through an FBI background check. An FBI background check is able to uncover every interaction an applicant had with law enforcement, from large scale criminal charges down to parking tickets.
FBI background checks require the submission of a fingerprint, which will be run through their Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which acts as a large warehouse of digitized fingerprints collected by law enforcement agencies across the country.
Keep up with the latest trends in the home services industries
Housecall Pro offers a monthly newsletter complete with tips and advice on how to manage your home service business. Sign up today and get more content like this as well as access to free ebooks, guides, and webinars.
Is it necessary to run a background check when hiring for my home services business?
Technically, no. But is it a best practice? Yes. A background check provides keen insight on potential candidates you may want to hire. One bad employee can lead to a multitude of problems, which can end up costing you more money than if you haven’t hired them in the first place. Additionally, a background check may be required for certain projects you do. For example, if you’re working on repairing a school, you may need to vet your employees and send information to the police department to determine whether they’re allowed to work in close proximity of children.
Additionally, a background check can serve as an employee retention strategy. With a background check, you’ll be able to view relevant information such as living history, work history, and criminal convictions. If you notice an employee is always moving and on the go, or has had a new job year after year, they may bail on you when you need them most. Paired with Housecall Pro’s small business management software, you’ll be able to build a team of dedicated staff that help your business flourish.
Which Background Check Services are Good for Home Service Businesses?
Now that you know all there is to know about what a background check is, what a background check shows, and how background checks work, it’s time to find a background check service that works for your home service business. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best background check services you should take advantage of.
Verified Credentials offers comprehensive screen solutions to prove in-depth background checks. The features Verified Credentials offer include:
- Criminal, public record, and ID searches
- Credit reports
- International screening
- Academic and professional verifications
- E-Verify and I-9 verification
- Healthcare specific searches
- Workflow services and technology
Verified Credentials also offer solutions by industry, including staffing and construction. Their staffing solution background checks include a government watchlist search, national sex offender search, county criminal search, and ID Trace Pro II. Additionally, their construction solution background check consists of a county criminal search, driving records, ID Trace Pro II, national sex offender search, national criminal database search, and drug testing
Intelius provides in-depth background checks that will give you all the information you could need. Some of the reasons why Intelius continues to be a proven background check service has to do with the following details their reports provide, including:
- Full legal name
- Age and date of birth
- Current and past home addresses
- Known aliases and possible relatives
- Employment history
- Education history
- Email address
- Phone numbers
- Social media accounts
offers employment background check services designed for businesses with over 50 years of experience. HireRight is a popular background check service due to their fast turnaround times, offering real-time results as they become available. HireRight’s employment screening solutions include:
- Criminal background checks
- Global screening
- Identity checks
- I-9 and E-Verify
- Drug and health screening
- Extended workforce screening
- Executive intelligence
- Candidate experience
- Federal bankruptcy search
- Credit check for employment
US Search is another popular background check service. US Search’s background checks are e-mailed within 24 hours, and sometimes instantly when available. US Search offers a variety of features, including:
- Background checks
- Email search
- Social network search
- Reverse phone lookup
- People search
- Property records
BeenVerified runs reliable background checks that give you access to the data you need to be verified. With a variety of services, such as people search, reverse phone lookup, reverse address lookup, email search, public records search, and criminal records search, there’s a lot of information you can uncover with BeenVerified. BeenVerified’s background checks include the following information:
- Full legal name
- Addresses, past and present
- Phone number
- Email address
- Related family members
- Criminal history
- Social media accounts
Background checks should be a standard practice when you’re hiring new employees, as they will give you the information you need to determine whether they will be a good fit for your company or not. From criminal records to housing history and credit reports to driving records, background checks will play an integral part in your hiring process. As long as you abide by the federal laws, you should be in good standing to find the perfect match for your company.
The ultimate guide to workers’ compensation
To help you keep your company productive and your employees protected, Housecall Pro has broken down everything you need to know about workers’ compensation in this downloadable guide.