What to Look for in a Background Check Provider

Five people in suits gathered around a small table

When any company is hiring, it looks for candidates that are bright, skilled, and a healthy culture fit. Yet, one crucial factor supersedes it all: trust. Great teams are made up of talented people you and your customers can trust. That’s why most employers seek the additional assurance of a background check for employees.

In my time in the background screening biz, I have met people who can’t tell the difference between providers, and others who are overwhelmed by the options. It’s understandable—with new startups entering the industry and websites full of acronyms and jargon, it can feel like a complex learning curve. The truth is, not all background checks are the same—and it’s worth making a smart decision.

Here is an easy guide to choosing a background screening provider you can trust.

1. Check for a truly thorough criminal search

Some low-budget screening services rely exclusively on a national criminal database check. That may sound official, but there is no single database that covers every county or state, and even if it did, it would contain records that may be outdated. Instead, a conscientious provider will supplement any database search by going straight to the source to verify the information with county courthouse data and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website. Make sure that your search process is designed to be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), as well as with state and local requirements.

2. Find a comprehensive “one-stop shop”

Don’t feel like you need to piece together screening services with multiple providers. If you need more than criminal background searches, look for a provider that offers a comprehensive suite of services. One provider should be able to offer everything you may need now or as you grow, ranging from drug testing, to education and employment verification, to ongoing workforce monitoring. There’s a reason why companies rely on external experts to run background checks—they should lift the burden from your HR team and reduce the complexity of the process, from start to finish.

3. Seek a partner, not just a vendor

Regulations are constantly evolving. You need a partner you can trust to help you navigate them, one with deep knowledge of federal, state, and local regulations, as well as accreditation with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). The value of a screening partner should extend beyond the check itself.

4. Insist on simple, full integration

Look for a partner that can integrate seamlessly with Jobvite, so screening is built directly into the workflow you already use. You should not have to juggle multiple tools. Integration gives employers the benefits of less repetition and manual entry, and leaves less room for error. It also gives candidates a more convenient and consistent experience.

Don’t be overwhelmed when looking for a provider. Focus on finding one that can deliver on these four must-haves, and you’ll have a partner to help you make better hiring decisions with information you can trust.

About the author

David Bloom is General Manager of the SMB Group at Sterling, a global leader in background and identity services and the first to integrate seamlessly with Jobvite in 2012. David was included in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Brilliant 100 and on Business Insider’s list of 100 most interesting people in the NYC tech scene.