How to Get the Best Background Checks for Small Business

3 min read
Thu, Feb 23, 2017

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Because small businesses don't hire as many or as regularly as large enterprises, each new hire must be a solid fit for the company. Employees are working above and beyond their job description and in a growing business, finances and timing are crucial. Small business hiring managers must evaluate cost, ease and customer service when considering screening options. Other reasons for background checks include the potential of negligent hiring claims, damage to the brand reputation, and loss of company morale if the wrong person is hired. 

How can small businesses get the best and most cost-effective background checks?

Create a Background Screening Policy

One of the easiest ways to save money on background checks for small business is to create a standard by which to run them. Small businesses may not have all back office processes fully documented. As the company grows or during employee turnover, the new hire in the position of accounting, sales, HR or other roles has to "reinvent the wheel". Without documented processes, time is spent on relearning or researching best practices for irregular (not daily) tasks. 

As a best practice, a small business background screening policy will include:

  • What information, documents and authorization will be obtained for all applicants prior to running the background check
  • Which screens will be run as they relate to different job functions and levels of security
  • How the background check information will be used to determine the hiring decision, including assessing criminal records
  • How to take adverse action if the background check results in a no-hire decision
  • Where the screening information will be stored or how it will be destroyed after the screening

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Work with a Professional Background Check Partner

Small businesses don't hire as often as large enterprises so it's imperative to work with a professional background screening company that will be a helpful partner. Compliance, availability and quality customer service will make some companies stand out over others. Here are some other qualifications for a helpful background screening partner:

  • Affiliation with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners 
  • Available to answer questions regarding FCRA compliance and verify that their processes are FCRA compliant
  • Offering full-service background checks including verification of the data compiled
  • Offering cost-effective and accurate background check options and other assistance to save time and money (including an online portal for quick turnaround, verified accuracy and FCRA compliance)


Understand Which Background Checks are Necessary

The selection of background checks can be quite overwhelming to a hiring manager who doesn't run them often. It would seem that the best answer to "which checks should I run?" would be "All of them", but this isn't the case. In fact, running "all of them" would be quite costly and maybe not necessary. 

Sometimes, the only screens needed are:

  • Identity verification
  • National criminal database check
  • National sex offender search
  • County criminal court search

Depending on the job duties of the new hire, and keep in mind that these duties may be above and beyond what's expected, there may be other background checks needed such as:

  • Credit history
  • Drug screening
  • Driving records
  • Education history
  • Employment history

If the new hire's role expands to something that requires more security levels, a hiring manager still has the option to run more background checks in depth at a later time. This option could also be added to the background check policy, as well as other updates, as the company grows and job descriptions become more defined.


The good news is that small businesses can implement these changes faster, and with less red tape, than larger organizations. Starting small means that the processes can be defined and honed so that the growing pains aren't so painful. Background checks on new employees are just as important in small businesses as large organizations. Regulations, compliance and the litigation potential is still the same but the finances are drastically different. Work with a professional background screening partner that can be helpful and offer guidance along the way.


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