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Why the Quality of the Screen Matters

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Staffing firms offer a valuable service to their clients by sourcing talented applicants to join the workforce. Because they have been entrusted with such important work, fully vetting these applicants with a thorough background screen is a necessity.

Many staffing firms choose to use only a “national” database search. It’s attractive because it’s cheap and fast, but it’s also risky. Being transparent about these risks can help staffing firms determine if it’s the right screen for their firm.

The Facts About National Databases 

  1.  A complete nationwide database does not exist in the U.S. At best, a national database contains records from only approximately 50% of U.S. courts. 

  2. Some counties do no report criminal records to any state or national repositories. 

  3. Database searches often return a large number of records when using common names, resulting in false positives, which can be a liability for organizations. 

  4. “Instant” database checks are not vetted or verified checks. The information may be outdated or—worse—it may not even belong to your applicant.

Quality Screens Matter

In an alarming case study to illustrate the dangers of using a standalone database, BIB prepared a comparison for a national staffing firm that processes over 100,000 screens annually. We sampled 993 applicants. These applicants had all been “cleared” via a national screen.

When BIB performed a professional grade criminal background screen we found:

  • 30% of the applicants had records (almost 300 applicants)
  • Over 5% of applicants had violent felonies (more than 50 applicants)
  • One applicant was even listed on a Sex Offender Registry.

You may also want to consider that many times your clients hire your applicants permanently and may re-screen these individuals in the future. What if they use a higher quality screen than just a “national”? What if they find something you didn’t?

National databases can be a valuable research tool, allowing you to expand the scope of your search. But using them as a standalone search could put your clients and your reputation in jeopardy.

Consider revisiting your policies and procedures today. Need help? We’re here, and we’d be glad to introduce you to a better way to background check.