Hiring small business employees is a risky proposition.
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Most small business owners don't have the resources to hire a massive, seasoned HR team.
Indeed, at the smallest businesses, hiring new employees tends to be done infrequently and inconsistently. Hiring processes are redefined every time a position needs to be filled, and the employee screening process is hurried and hectic.
That puts small businesses at risk.
One well-known risk is that you hire a bad employee, meaning the employee can't do the job well.
Even worse, there's the less-obvious risk that you hire a bad employee, meaning you hire an ex-con or somebody who has completely lied about their background. The downside is huge. They could cause harm to you and your employees, could damage your company reputation, get you in legal trouble, or might embezzle funds or steal company assets.
How to Conduct an Employee Background Check
Conducting employee background checks is the obvious solution to this problem. Fortunately, we've got an excellent employee screening service to recommend to you.
We were asked to review Direct Screening, the employee screening service, by ReviewMe.com. They compensate us for our time on the reviews, but we only review products and services that we think are useful and helpful to small business owners.
Having used numerous background check services in the past, we're pleased to recommend Direct Screening as an excellent service for conducting employee background checks.
It's a very easy to use service with well-designed background check reports that are easy to understand. Costs are very reasonable, ranging from $4.95 to $16.95. That's as of our review date, December 3, 2008. Prices may change over time, of course.
By the way, you can get a 10% DISCOUNT on your background checks. Just email [email protected] and mention GAEBLER.COM and they will set you up with an account that gives you an automatic discount. Also, be aware that they offer discounts to companies that run 5 or more reports a month.
So what's not to like? The Direct Screening employee background checks are easy to use, fast, generate nice reports, and are cost affordable.
That only leaves one question: how good are Direct Screening reports at actually identifying bad employee recruits so you can avoid hiring them?
This is an area where Direct Screening really excels. To generate each report, they tap into their proprietary database of over 245 million criminal records from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico and Guam. That database is generated from just about every possible public source you can imagine, from national security databases at Interpol to sex offender databases to department of corrections and court records databases from across the country. It's clear that Direct Screening spends a lot of time making sure they have up-to-date data from the various criminal justice systems.
Mind you, the employee criminal check algorithms require that you enter the employee name properly and have the correct birth date. I did an employee background check on a known sex offender in the Chicago area, where I live. His name is Robert X (last named changed).
When I entered Robert X with his correct birth date, Direct Screening appropriately flagged him as a former sex offender. However, when I tried Bob X (using a popular nickname for Robert) with his correct birth date, Direct Screening didn't flag his criminal record.
In addition, when I tried Robert X with an incorrect birth date, he wasn't flagged. I don't view this as a deficiency per se; it's more of a reminder that when you are screening an employee, you need to make sure you have the right information, or else you may not get the information you are looking for. That's true of almost everything in life: garbage in, garbage out.
Having said that, it would be nice if Direct Screening would run first names against a nicknames database. So, if I entered in Peter, it would also check on Pete for me, without my having to run a second background check. This is not something that other background check services do, as far as I know, so it could be a nice differentiator for a service that is already well ahead of the pack.
One final kudo to Direct Screening is that they seem to have a good handle on the various laws regarding consumer rights and employee background checks. They don't just give you the background checks and leave it to you to figure out the various rules and regulations that might apply. They provide some good guidance on things like consent forms that you might have to have an employee complete before running a criminal background check.
All in all, a big thumbs up for Direct Screening. They've taken something that is very important for small businesses but often gets overlooked and they've made it simple, effective and have carved a nice niche in affordable employee background checks.