Unless you’re in human resources or the background industry, you may not a have clue what a ‘screening policy’ is. But if you’re serious about hiring good people, building a consistent workplace culture, and staying on the right side of the law, you really need to know what your screening policy is and if it’s up to date. Here’s a step-by-step tool to help you examine your policy and determine if any changes are needed.

Know what a background check is and what it isn’t

So you’re thinking about hiring Joe Schmoe to run the front line in your local taco shop franchise. You check out his Facebook page. Seems harmless enough. His Twitter account has some juvenile humor, but nothing too offensive. You ask him if he’s ever had any run-ins with the law and he mentions a couple of speeding tickets. So far, so good, right? This background check stuff is easy.


What you’re doing is what every employer should do before they hire someone, but none of what you did qualifies as a background check. Why? A couple of reasons. One, it blurs the line between recruitment and hiring discrimination (this post explains the difference). Two, a background check should verify a person’s qualifications. Just because Joe’s LinkedIn profile says he’s a Horned Frog, doesn’t mean he knows TCU from this (NSFW) TCU. Three, you want to know if you’re hiring someone who tells the truth and who has a criminal-free history. Those so-called speeding tickets? Did Joe forget to mention that one of them also resulted in a drunken driving arrest?

True, a proper screening can be done in-house, but more and more businesses are turning to external screening companies like us. Our screening process is already thorough, follows the law, and provides the necessary information for you to make a qualified decision about Joe Schmoe’s employability with your taco shop. In other words, we’ll find out that Joe was drunk when he was pulled over for speeding because he was late to his last job as a BMX bike salesman.

Understand the roles of compliance

Are you familiar with the terms FCRA, furnisher, CRA, adverse action? What about EEOC and discrimination? No? Yikes. You definitely need us.

These crucial components are the building blocks toward a structured and consistent screening policy that keep you within the confines of the law. Compliance is a big deal in the screening industry. One national screening industry leader reports that consumer protection penalties can run upward of $2,500 per violation for each employee affected. A handful of violations could easily put your little taco shop in the red.

When you outsource your screening needs to a company like Active Screening, you can rest assured that employee background checks will follow the letter of the law. But if you decide to keep your screening needs in house, you’ll need to (at the very least) follow these FCRA compliance guidelines:

  • only order background checks for employment reasons
  • tell your candidate in writing that you will be running a background check on them
  • have the candidate sign off on that
  • know your limitations as an ‘end user’
  • understand the delicate nature of adverse action

Are you a ‘builder’ or a ‘buyer’?

Deciding whether to run background checks yourselves, or to farm out the procedures, can be a tough decision. Ask yourself these questions before making your decision:

Is my HR department already overworked?

Would they need any additional training to learn how to complete a background check?

Do you need to know who will be investigating job candidates?

Do you like to keep all work-related projects and task in-house?

Are you comfortable with outsourcing?

Do you have the resources to build and maintain a screening policy and procedure?

Collaborate with the professionals to create or update your policy

In most cases, we recommend outsourcing your screening needs to the experts. There are so many reasons why (scrolling through our blog will give you a ton of them), but one of our favorites is that our products are totally customizable so you only need to sign on for services you’re willing to pay for. In other words, if you’re not willing to pay for all the extra toppings on the taco, you can just order the meat, cheese and salsa.

Think of Active Screening as your a la cart screening agency. We have a range of options that you tailor to your needs and our background checks are available for a wide range of industries from transportation to education to healthcare.

Even if you’re not ready to commit to our services, we have a skilled staff who is willing to examine your current screening policy and offer recommendations on how you can improve it. That sounds pretty appetizing to us!

So, give us a call today to talk shop about screening. 1-800-319-5580. Tell ‘em Joe Schmoe sent you.

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