Did you ever wonder why you need to research more than one source when screening a potential applicant? When you want to get a complete picture of the applicants seeking to join your company, it is essential to screen their past experiences thoroughly. This process involves reviewing references and resumes. It is also valuable to check a variety of records at the county, state, and federal levels to ensure that you have a complete picture. The offenses you find (if any) may not impact the work. However, there are times when knowing past experiences can help you avoid legal liability or a poorly informed hiring decision. Checking every available record through third-party screenings helps you to obtain a complete picture of the person you are considering for this role.
County Offers Insight into State-Level Convictions
Knowing what your job candidate has on his or her county record is helpful because these infractions happened close to home. The information you glean from this resource might have a bearing on clients and business collaborators directly. Generally, this information will be reported back to you for the past seven years. Items that occurred before that time tend to be far enough in the past that, if not repeated in the most recent seven years, they aren't generally considered relevant. That being said, there are options for pursuing customized requests at the county level. An advantage to checking the county records first is that state crime convictions originate here: if it’s not in the county record, it won’t be in the state record.
State Databases Offer Further Information
While not every state offers state searches, any that can go through will go through the State Central Criminal Repository. Convictions of misdemeanors and felonies at the state level will appear here if they are available at all, but federal cases will not. Given that the accuracy of the state data depends on the reporting done by the county, it is best to check at the “local level” first when trying to be as efficient as possible.
Federal Records Widen the Search
While state crimes and federal crimes occasionally overlap, in the cases where they do, the federal courts would have jurisdiction. Any conviction would, therefore, fall outside of the state court record; necessitating a search at the federal level. This database is somewhat restricted, given that it doesn't include state violations. In combination with the information garnered at the county and state levels, it can be a powerful tool for insight into the complete “picture” of your potential employee.
However, federal records are challenging for the layman to navigate given, that they lack ideal identifiers like date of birth. If you’re trying to research a common name within federal records, the difficulty level only increases. You can learn more at the National Crime Information Center as well.
Other National Databases and Registries
There are other databases that third-party screening providers like CNet Technologies check in order to cross-reference and sometimes find items that aren't stored anywhere else.
The National Criminal Record Database
This is a privately-owned database operated by a third party that can serve as a useful compilation if nothing is turning up at the local level. While it casts a wide net, for individuals that have lived in multiple regions checking this database can help you narrow your search. An example of this might be which state and county databases might contain information—if such information does exist at all. However, given how broad this search can be, it should never be used as the sole resource for determining employment eligibility. When combined with the source data, it can be a useful tool despite gaps in information.
The National Sex Offender Registry
While there are restrictions on its use in various states, this database registers those who have been convicted of sexually violent offenses. Therefore, it is worth consulting if it is legal and necessary to do so within the confines of your industry.
For all other databases for courts that do not involve criminal convictions, it is essential that you have a clear policy about how such information will be taken into account if you choose to use it in hiring decisions. This information should not become a source of bias or discrimination, and if knowing it will give you no useful information for your hiring decision, it may be best to skip any check of civil records.
Human Resources Depend on Efficient, Legal Background Checks
Turning every stone is part of being detailed—and fair—to any candidates that you want to hire and retain long-term. When you discover that they did not disclose something when given the opportunity on an application, that can be a red flag. Even if the conviction is a small one, it is worth addressing, which is why it is so important to do a thorough dive into an applicant’s record. After all, if a shoddy search is conducted and you hire a person with a violent conviction in a high-stress role, you may find yourself with a future problem.
Past behavior doesn't predict all future actions: still, it is certainly something you as an employer need to consider concerning your company policy. When there is information that reveals a potential conflict between the needs of the job and the candidate's background, you will be the one who determines if the applicant is a suitable fit.
Ultimately, using original sources and databases of all kinds helps you avoid bias in this process; if you only checked county resources, you'd be letting people slide who only had out-of-state or federal offenses. A thorough check for everyone is fair for everyone. To learn more about the benefits of screening for criminal records, explore the CNet Technologies blog post on third-party screening!