It sounds like a cliché, but every business is only as strong as the people in the office, behind the counter or on the sales or shop floor. That’s true for big businesses and small, alike, according to David Bloom, general manager of the Small Business Group at Sterling, an employment background screening company. The impact is even greater in a small company where relatively few people are responsible for so much. We asked Bloom why background screening searches are so important. This is what he explained.

Many small businesses already require pre-employment tests, resumes or examples of skills and experience that display the potential employee is proficient in a skill. These small business owners invest in people to make sure they’re putting the right skills in the right positions.

Also on |’s Guide to Pre-Employment Background Checks

More and more, small business owners are also using background and screeing checks to determine the risks involved with a new hire, and give you data to confirm that your hiring decisions are good ones.

Screening varies widely by industry

In Healthcare, there are stringent regulations around screening and monitoring. Other industries have no guidance at all. Screening may sound complex, but a professional background screening provider will provide guidance on regulations and best practices in your industry.

The screener you choose should be

  • Familiar with your industry
  • Familiar with the position or role for which you’re hiring
  • Familiar with your risk tolerance

What is the cost of a bad hire?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), each hire costs more than $4,120 and takes 42 days. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says that bad hires have cost his company “well over $100 million.”

A bad hire affects more than one position

Think about the team around a new hire. Think abou the decisions made (or not made) due to poor judgment, the impact to the customer, and most costly, the value of your brand.

Each member of a team has an impact that cascades throughout the business and the culture. Nothing is harder to build than trust. Most businesses don’t have room to risk that.

What are the factors to consider when it comes to choosing a screening provider?


Above all else, a trusted screening provider is compliant with the law. The right provider will ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and be accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

Background screening is highly regulated; laws vary from state to state and even city to city, and are constantly evolving — if your background check isn’t FCRA-compliant, you put your business at serious legal risk.


“Background check” can refer to a quick search of a national online database, with substantial gaps in reporting and no double-checking of source data to confirm the initial pass is correct, or it can refer to a rigorous search that involves many steps and stringent processes.

Look for a thorough, multi-step search that includes access to primary sources for criminal records, Department of Justice Sex Offender search, and verification.


Background checks should not be one-size-fits-all. Different industries and different roles require different searches. When choosing a screening service, make sure you can tailor your search to the position, whether you need to look at driver’s records, verify education and employment, conduct drug testing, or do other types of screening.

Beware of “instant” online searches. They do not provide trustworthy or compliant information. Not all background checks are created equal. When you’re considering a provider that seems legitimate, ask questions and understand what you will (and won’t) get in your search.


Related Articles