In the Trenches: A Background Check Post-Mortem
A little over a month ago, I wrote about my struggle to find the right way to do a background check on a new employee. Now that I’ve successfully completed one, I thought I’d share what I learned during the experience.
First, I should say that this was one of the most stressful things I’ve had to do as a small-business owner. That may sound silly, but it’s true. After all, I had to share a lot of private information about my potential employee with the agency that did the checking. This caused me to worry. What if the company did something sinister with the information? What if it found out my prospective employee was a convicted murderer? What if — well, you get the point.
What made the process even more stressful was the fact that it takes time to get reliable results. You may be hear about “instant” searches, but those are far from comprehensive. Background checks should take a few days if they are going to be thorough. And, during that time, all an employer can do is wait and wonder.
To ease the anxiety, I strongly suggest using an agency that’s recommended by someone you know. If a friend or a colleague you trust has had a positive experience, then that should ease your mind. In my case, after I wrote my first post on this subject, I received a lot of advice in my inbox. (Of course, some of it came from people I don’t know, which didn’t help establish credibility but did at least give me some great companies to investigate.)
I followed up the most promising leads, however each one gave me different answers. One agency told me that, in order to do a credit check, I had to get interviewed by a government official at my place of business to make sure there was a legitimate reason. Another told me that wasn’t the case, because I wasn’t requesting a full credit report with details. I was just looking for an overview of whether there were any concerns in the credit history. I found myself frustrated and confused once again.
In the end, I went with an agency called Global Business Screening. The owner left a comment on my first post, and she proved to be both easy to contact and full of helpful answers. I had to get multiple forms filled out by my prospective employee, and a few days later, I had my results. I paid $100 for a credit check and all sorts of criminal checks in multiple states.
It all came back clean. Although it’s tempting to think that conducting the background check was a waste of time and money, I disagree. Now I can feel more comfortable about allowing my new employee to handle our sensitive client data.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.