In today’s digital age, conducting an online employment background check has become easier and more common than ever before. Employers can now access a vast array of information about a job candidate with just a few clicks of a mouse. However, it is important to know what to look for and how to conduct a thorough and legal background check. In this article, we will explore how to conduct an online employment background check, including what information to look for, legal considerations, and best practices.
What is an Online Employment Background Check?
An online employment background check is a type of background check that is conducted using online resources. These checks can include searching public records, social media profiles, and other online sources to gather information about a job candidate’s criminal history, education, work history, and other relevant information.
What Information to Look for During an Online Employment Background Check?
The information that an employer can gather during an online employment background check can vary depending on the resources used. Here are some common types of information that an employer might look for:
- Criminal History: An employer might conduct an online search of public records to determine whether a candidate has a criminal record. This can include information about arrests, convictions, and other criminal activities.
- Education and Employment History: An employer might use online resources to verify a candidate’s education and employment history. This can include verifying degrees and certifications, checking previous employers, and confirming dates of employment.
- Social Media Presence: Employers may search for a candidate’s social media profiles to get a sense of their personality, interests, and behavior outside of work. However, employers should be careful to avoid making hiring decisions based on personal characteristics or protected categories, such as race or religion, that may be revealed on social media.
- Credit History: Some employers may use online resources to conduct credit checks on job candidates to assess their financial responsibility. However, it is important to comply with all state and federal regulations related to credit checks.
When conducting an online employment background check, employers must be careful to comply with all applicable state and federal laws. Here are some key legal considerations to keep in mind:
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Employers must comply with the FCRA when conducting background checks. This law regulates how employers can use consumer reports, including credit reports, in the hiring process. Employers must obtain written permission from job candidates before conducting a background check, and must provide candidates with a copy of their report if they are denied employment based on the results.
- Ban the Box Laws: Some states and cities have “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history until after a conditional job offer has been made. Employers should be aware of any such laws in their jurisdiction and adjust their background check process accordingly.
- Anti-Discrimination Laws: Employers must be careful not to discriminate against candidates based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, or national origin. They should ensure that any background check conducted is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Best Practices for Conducting an Online Employment Background Check
Here are some best practices to follow when conducting an online employment background check:
- Obtain Written Consent: Employers must obtain written consent from job candidates before conducting a background check. This consent should be separate from other application materials and should clearly explain what information will be gathered and how it will be used.
- Use Reliable Sources: Employers should use reliable online sources to gather information about job candidates. They should avoid relying solely on social media or other unverified sources.
- Be Consistent: Employers should apply the same background check process to all job candidates for a particular position. This can help avoid claims of discrimination or bias.