ScreenDiscussion

Blogging background checking and security issues

3.02.2005

Check Yourself

Employers are interested in doing background checks on new hires, but it is becoming increasingly popular for people to do background checks on themselves, either to find out what someone else might turn up or to "pre-qualify" for a job. Last year Choicepoint started offering a "Background Check in a Box" to small business owners at Sam's Club, discussed in this article, and Entersect recently one-upped them by offering job seekers the chance to do their own background check on CareerBuilder.com.

My concern is this: Considering how difficult it is for an employment screening company to get other companies to understand the ins and outs of doing background checks properly (which typically includes proving to them that database searches are not the best way to get accurate background information), how difficult is it going to be to communicate this to the average job seeker who doesn't have the benefit of a legal department to assist him or her. What will the response be when he or she conducts a background check via a database search, and then the potential employer conducts a background check by going to the courts and searching actual court records and finds something that disqualifies the individual from a job? There will no doubt be legal disclaimers that the job seeker agrees to before doing his or her own background check, but it seems to me that this new opportunity has the potential to negatively impact the overall perception of the employment screening industry. What we need now are more consistent standards that lead to higher quality information and consumer trust, not more variables without regulation. I see offering personal background checks as a big part of the future of employment screening, but I'm concerned that we've put the cart before the "standards" horse.

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