The Importance of Doing a Background on Every Employee

The Importance of Doing a Background on Every Employee

In a time when everyone is available nearly instantly via social media, text, or phone, it might seem like backgrounds are less important. People share so much that it can seem as though employees are being completely transparent about who they are and what their backgrounds look like. Unfortunately this is not the case. A complete background investigation is considered the very heart of the pre-employment selection process, and a thorough, unbiased investigation that conforms to all applicable state and federal regulations is imperative.

Furthermore, reoccurring backgrounds for current employees are essential to maintain awareness of your staff. Reoccurring backgrounds on employees such as estate staff, EAs, HR, CFOs, controllers, house staff etc. are essential because those individuals are entrusted with valuables and confidential information. At Cooke and Associates Inc., we conduct a variety of backgrounds including POST compliant backgrounds. Many police and fire departments trust us to conduct their new hire backgrounds, so we are versed in every aspect of safety, security, and risk mitigation involved with the background process.

Are backgrounds common?

In a 2018 report sponsored by the National Association of Background Screeners (NABS), 95% of surveyed employers indicated that they use one or more types of employment background screening to avoid harm or legal liability to the company or to others.

Why are they so important?

Whether you’re hiring a new graduate, a seasoned employee, or scrambling to fill a temporary or unexpected vacancy, applicants may be hiding more than they lead on. Additionally, your employees have access to sensitive internal information and may even handle physical assets such as inventory or money. This makes new hire and reoccurring background checks a fundamental aspect of risk mitigation.

College and University registrar’s report that at least 60% of the verifications they receive contain falsified information. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal said that 34% of all application forms contain outright lies about experience, education, and the ability to perform essential functions of the job.

By conducting an in depth background, you will gain a more holistic picture of a candidate’s background, and you’ll learn about any demonstrated history of poor life decisions which could negatively impact you and your company in the future. Humans make mistakes and can make poor choices, but trying to hide this from a potential employer suggests lack of accountability and reliability in a candidate. If someone cannot take accountability from previous poor judgement and show how they’re moving forward from a mistake, how can they be trusted to be truthful in every aspect of employment?

What kind of information can a background uncover?

Backgrounds may uncover a wide range of information including the following:

Social Media Presence: Social media users often feel a sense of anonymity. Your candidates’ social media presence is a direct reflection of their character, which could impact your agency’s future credibility.

Criminal History: Criminal checks confirm or uncover the applicant’s criminal history, and provide additional details that the candidate omitted. This includes cities and counties the applicant has lived, served in the military, worked, and attended school.

Police Contact: Identify if the candidate has had negative contact with the police. Even if it did not lead to an arrest, it could be a cause for concern.

Drug Use: Determine if the candidate has an unreported history of drug use. Recent unreported drug use could prevent them from performing required duties.

Military Verification: Determine if your candidate was honorably discharged from military service, and find out if they were truthful of their rank and duties while serving.

Employment Verification and Work References: Identify unreported gaps in employment, and if the candidate’s reason(s) for leaving were accurately described. If the candidate has a pattern of past performance issues or history of not getting along with coworkers or supervisors, this could indicate future behavior.

Education Verification: Confirm that the candidate truly graduated from the listed institution, and that the GPA and credits listed on their application accurately match what the institution has on file.

DMV: Uncover a history of motor vehicle citations which demonstrate negligence. If there is a history of violations, this could increase your company’s risk and liability if the candidate operates a department vehicle.

Credit History: Identify a demonstrated inability to manage finances. Statistics have shown a correlation between the ability to handle personal finances and the ability to make sound decisions.

Responsibilities: Determine if the candidate is taking responsibility for their actions and obligations such as outstanding parking citations, reacting to authority figures, maintaining financial obligations, or even registering for the draft.

Doing a background on every employee is a crucial part of the hiring process. At Cooke and Associates, we strive to provide resources to help employers mitigate risk and ensure the safety of all personnel. If you’re interested in learning more about the background services we offer, email us at

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