How To Do Employment Background Checks: In-Depth Guide

Employment background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. They can help you find the best candidates for your open positions and protect your business from potential lawsuits. 

Employers choose to outsource their background checks frequently, but there are also several ways to do them in-house. If you’re considering conducting background checks on your employees, you should first understand the laws that govern them. 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates how employers can use consumer credit reports. 

Under the FCRA, employers must get the applicant’s consent before running a background check. The employer must also provide the applicant with a copy of the report and an opportunity to dispute any errors. 

This blog post will discuss how to do employment background checks. We will cover the different types of checks you can perform and the information you should gather before deciding on a candidate. Let’s get started!

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Are Background Checks Necessary When Hiring? 

Background checks are an important part of the hiring process. Employers choose to conduct them to ensure that they’re making safe and informed decisions when it comes to who they hire. But there are some things you should know before conducting background checks on potential employees. 

The first thing you need to consider is what type of background check you want to conduct. There are many different background checks, from employment history checks to credit checks. You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to conduct a state or federal background check

Once you’ve decided on the type of check, you’ll need to gather the necessary information. This includes the person’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, and other identifying information. 

You’ll also need to know the specific state or federal laws that apply to the type of background check you’re conducting. Once you have all this information, you can begin the background check process. 

You can do this yourself or hire a professional background checking company to do it for you. No matter which method you choose, make sure you follow the proper procedures and comply with all applicable laws. 

Why Background Checks Matter So Much? 

It is essential for any business, no matter how small, to conduct some form of pre-employment screening on potential employees. This is not only to protect the company from possible harm but also to ensure that all laws are being followed in terms of wage and hour and workplace safety. 

Depending on the type of business you run, there are different types of background checks you should consider conducting. 

Many employers choose to do a criminal background check, but you may also want to consider doing credit checks, driving record checks, and sex offender registry searches. There are many reasons why conducting employment background checks is so important. 

The most obvious reason is safety. You need to know that the people you are hiring will not harm your employees or customers. 

A criminal background check can help ensure that potential employees do not have a history of violent crimes or other offenses that could put others at risk.

Steering Clear of Bad Hires

Many employers choose to do some form of employment background check on potential new hires. This is a good idea, as it can help you steer clear of bad hires who might have lied on their resume or who may have a criminal record. 

However, not all employment background checks are created equal – here are some tips on how to conduct an effective one:

  • Check the person’s education and work history. Make sure that the information listed on their resume is accurate.
  • Run a criminal background check. This will reveal any past convictions the person may have.
  • Check credit reports. A poor credit score could indicate that the person is not reliable financially.
  • Check social media profiles. Some employers now screen candidates’ social media profiles to see if they are posting anything that could be considered offensive or harmful.

By conducting a thorough employment background check, you can avoid making a costly mistake by hiring someone who is not qualified or may have a history of misconduct.

Eliminating Liability

When you’re looking to fill a position in your company, it’s essential to do everything you can to ensure that you’re making the best possible decision. 

One of the ways to do this is by performing employment background checks on potential employees. By doing so, you can eliminate any liability issues that may arise down the road.

The last thing that you want to occur is to hire an employee, only for them to make matters worse by destroying equipment or conducting themselves poorly and putting others in danger. 

Making Sure a Person Is a Good Fit

The most essential part of any business is ensuring that the employees are a good fit for the company. This means finding people who have the skill set required for the job and mesh well with the rest of the team. 

One way to ensure this is by doing employment background checks. A criminal record check can tell you if someone has a history of violence or theft, while a credit check can reveal if they’ve been late on bills in the past. 

These checks help employers see if potential employees have any red flags that indicate they may not be a good fit for the job. 

It’s also important to consider personality traits when doing employment background checks. For example, if you’re looking for someone to work in a customer service role, you’ll want to make sure they have good communication skills.

What Types of Background Checks Are There?

For New Employees

Criminal records check – A criminal record check looks for any criminal convictions an individual may have. 

Credit check – A credit check looks into an individual’s credit history. 

Education verification – An education verification confirms that the information listed on an employee’s resume is true. 

Employment verification – An employment verification confirms that the employer listed on an employee’s resume is legitimate.

For Existing Employees

Social Media Check – A social media check looks at an employee’s public social media profiles for any red flags.

Reference Check – A reference check reaches out to previous employers to understand an employee’s work ethic and skills.

Drug Test – A drug test screens for illegal drugs in an employee’s system.

Background Check – A background check is a comprehensive review of all the information on an individual. This can include criminal records, credit history, driving record, and education.

Criminal Records

Ex-criminals often have difficulty landing a job, as many employers now run criminal background checks on all potential employees. A criminal record can automatically disqualify an applicant from certain positions, making it harder to find work in general.

Previous Employment

Employers need to verify an applicant’s previous employment. This can be done by contacting the applicant’s previous employer or checking online databases that list former employees.


This process involves verifying the person’s name, address, and date of birth against government records. The best way to do this is through a service like LexisNexis or Experian. These services have access to millions of records and can verify your identity quickly and easily.

Education Verification

EduCheck can verify the validity of academic degrees earned by an individual. In addition, the service verifies the degree-granting institution, dates of attendance, major, and degree conferred.

Motor Vehicle Records

If you’re thinking of hiring someone who will be driving as part of their job duties, it’s essential to order a motor vehicle record search as part of your pre-employment screening process. You can order a motor vehicle record search from your state’s department of motor vehicles.

Professional License Verification

It’s essential to verify the professional license of a potential employee. You can do this by contacting the licensing board in the state where they are licensed. Some states make it easy to check licenses online, while others require you to contact them directly. 

Credit History

The person’s credit history reflects how they have handled their financial obligations in the past. This information can be used to determine if an individual is responsible with money and if they are likely to repay any debts that may be owed.

Social Media

Socially, an individual can provide a great deal of personal and identifying information. Facebook and LinkedIn are the most common social media sites used for employment background checks. 


Many employers will require fingerprints as part of the application process. In addition, if you have ever been arrested, your fingerprints will be in the criminal records database. There are two types of fingerprinting: ink and digital. 

How To Do a Background Check For Employment

Before you can conduct a background check on someone, you need to understand the law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates how employers can use consumer credit reports. 

Consumer credit reports include information about your credit history, such as whether you have paid your bills on time. The FCRA allows employers to get consumer credit reports for employees who have access to company money or property. 

However, the FCRA places strict limits on how employers can use the information in those reports. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire someone based solely on their credit history. 

An employer cannot give a job to someone based on their credit history unless the employer gets the employee’s written permission first. 

The FCRA also requires employers to get the employee’s written authorization before running a background check. An employer cannot require an employee to sign a release form as a condition of employment.

Consistent Policy

If you’re going to do any kind of employment background check, you need to have a consistent policy in place. This is important because it protects you as an employer and protects the employees. 

For example, if you only screen new employees and not current ones, you could be opening yourself up to a lawsuit if someone already employed with you commits a crime. 

So while you don’t want to have a policy that’s too restrictive, you also need to make sure that it’s being followed consistently.

Notify (Potential) Employee

You also need to notify the potential employee that you will be doing a background check. In some states, this is required by law, and it’s also just good business practice. It gives the potential employee a chance to say anything on their record that they want to disclose upfront.

You don’t want any surprises down the road, so this is an important step. It’s also an excellent way to start the relationship off on the right foot. 

Do All Of The Necessary Screening

If you’re hiring someone, you need to do a background check on them. This is especially important if the person will be working with children or other vulnerable populations. You can’t take any chances when it comes to safety. 

There are a few different things you’ll need to do to complete an employment background check. The first step is getting written permission from the applicant. Then, they have to agree to let you look into their history before you can move forward. 

The next step is gathering as much information about the person as possible. This includes looking up their name and address in public records databases, checking social media profiles, and contacting previous employers. 

Once you have all that information, it’s time to start digging into it. Look for any red flags that could indicate a problem. This might include criminal records, credit score issues, or past lawsuits. Take your time with this process, and don’t rush it. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry. However, if you’re not comfortable doing the background check yourself, some companies can help you out. Just make sure you do your research and choose a reputable company.

Carefully Review All Data and Findings

When you have all of the data in hand, it is time to review all of the findings carefully. You will want to look for any potential red flags that could indicate a problem with the applicant. This includes anything from criminal convictions to financial instability. 

For example, if the applicant has a history of financial instability, they may be more likely to skip out on their job responsibilities. 

Once you have identified any potential red flags, it is essential to check references and verify the information. 

This will help you better understand the applicant’s background and whether or not they are a good fit for the position. You can also use this opportunity to ask questions about the potential red flags that you found during your review.

Make Decisions

After carefully reviewing all of the data and findings, it is time to decide. Ultimately, you want to choose an employee who will be a good fit for your company and who will be able to do the job you are hiring them to do.

You don’t want to make a hasty decision, but you also don’t want to drag your feet and miss out on a great candidate. It is essential to keep in mind that background checks are not foolproof. 

There is always the chance that something could be missing or inaccurate information out there. However, by using a reputable screening company and taking the time to review all of the data, you can minimize those risks and decide who to hire.

Save Records

Once you have completed your employment background check, it is essential to save all of the records you generated in a safe place. This will include copies of the applicant’s resume, any reference checks you conducted, and any results from your background check. 

Then, if there are ever any questions about the hiring process or an employee’s qualifications, you will have everything you need to back up your decision. It is also good to keep track of when you conduct employment background checks. 

Doing so will help ensure that you are meeting all applicable legal requirements. For example, some states require employers to conduct a new background check whenever an employee is promoted or transferred to a different department. 

By tracking when each background check was performed, you can be sure that you are in compliance with the law. It may also be necessary to keep records of employee misconduct in some cases.

Self-Run Vs. Third-Party Background Checks

There are a few distinct differences between self-run and third-party background checks. Self-run background checks are typically less expensive, but they also offer fewer screenings and may not be as reliable. 

Third-party background checks, on the other hand, are more comprehensive and often include criminal records, driving records, education verification, and past employment history. However, these checks can be more expensive and take longer to complete. 

Therefore, when choosing the right type of background check for your needs, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Ultimately, the choice depends on your budget and what you’re looking for in a potential employee. 

If you’re considering conducting a background check on someone you want to hire, here are four steps to follow:

  • First, choose the type of background check you want to conduct.
  • Second, get written consent from the individual you’re checking.
  • Third, obtain a copy of their driver’s license or other form of ID.
  • Finally, run the background check.

Best Third-Party Background Check Providers


GoodHire is a third-party employment screening company that offers comprehensive background checks, including criminal and sex offender searches and verification of education and employment history. They also offer drug testing, social media monitoring, and more.


AccurateNow is a comprehensive employment background screening company that offers efficient and reliable services to businesses of all sizes. They understand the importance of conducting accurate and timely background checks.

Bonus: How Can I Run My Own Background Check? 

The best way to get accurate information is to use a professional service. They have billions of records in their database and can provide you with everything from criminal history to addresses and phone numbers. 

If you’re concerned about someone’s background, you may want to consider running a full background check. This involves contacting state and federal agencies and requesting driving records, criminal histories, and credit reports. 

It can be expensive and time-consuming, but it’s the best way to get a comprehensive view of someone’s history. No matter which method you choose, it’s essential to stay safe and do your research. Background checks can help protect you from hiring criminals, so don’t skip them!

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Williams

Brian is an expert in security, privacy, and information. He has studied background checks, criminal, people search, and such topics over the last 5 years. He is also an avid writer and enjoys sharing his knowledge through this blog. Read more of Brian's articles.