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3 Ways to Hire Better Employees, Reduce Turnover, and Protect Your Business

Human Resources

Background screening services can help small business owners hire employees, reduce turnover, and mitigate exposure to negligent hiring claims. However, it's important to review applicable laws to determine what should be included in a background screen. There is a wide range of potential areas you can explore — but it's critical to comply with state and local laws regulating background checks as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Here's a closer look at what areas companies should consider evaluating as part of their employee background screens.

Verification of Employment and Education History

SHRM has noted that up to 53 percent of resumes contain a lie. Perhaps a candidate stretches their title, tries to disguise dates of unemployment, or claims an educational credential they didn't complete. A candidate background screen should begin with verifying dates of employment, titles and employer history, and educational credentials.

In addition, any special training or licensing that is required for the position should be verified as well. Confirming candidates have the experience and education their resume represents can help protect your company against misrepresentation while ensuring you have qualified individuals working for your company. In certain fields, such as medical or legal, the consequences for not properly verifying an employee's credentials can have catastrophic financial and reputational repercussions.

Social Security Verification

While employers will confirm a candidate's eligibility to work in the U.S. through the completion of a Form I-9 and reviewing supporting documentation, many background checks also include Social Security number verification. During this process, you confirm a candidate's identity via their social security number, previous addresses, and date of birth.  This information can also be verified directly with the SSA.

Criminal History

A background check may also include a criminal history screen. Often, there are specific releases that must be signed as part of this process. Using access to state and federal databases, the background screen will identify whether the candidate has been convicted of a crime. If yes, additional information may be assessed including the nature and date of the crime Restrictions on the use of this information may be prohibited in certain jurisdictions.

Additional Areas of Concern

Depending on the nature of the position, a background screen may include additional areas of information.  Again, the use of this information may be restricted.  Employers may in fact create additional liability and exposure to discrimination law suits where certain information is obtained, regardless of whether the information was considered in the employment decision.  These additional background screens may include:

  • Credit checks – generally only appropriate, for positions related to the management of funds or access to company credit cards and cash and where permitted by state and local law.
  • Department of Motor Vehicle records – generally only appropriate, if the position involves driving a vehicle on behalf of the company.
  • Reference checks, where permitted state and local law, to provide access to personal and professional references provided by the candidate are contacted to verify information and gather additional data.

Conducting a background check can be a worthy investment. However, it may be time-consuming, and it's imperative that you comply with legal requirements in terms of the background check itself, the timing of the background check, as well as the applicable notices and disclosures. An experienced background check partner and consultation with legal counsel can help you establish compliant processes to gather the information needed to make the best hiring decisions.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.