While the thought of a background check is enough to make anyone with a record cringe, a recent survey of employers on the subject reveals some rather surprising results.
The survey, The Unvarnished Truth: 2014 Top Trends in Employment Background Checks, was conducted by EmployeeScreenIQ, a Cleveland, Ohio-based international background check company early this year. Nearly 600 executives, managers and others representing a wide variety of companies – ranging in size from less than 100 to 5,000 employees – filled it out.
Compared with the previous year – the company does this annually – results show that more companies are adopting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines on background checks. At the same time, however, the majority are still asking for self disclosure – “the box” – which the EEOC recommends not including on employment applications.
Key findings of the report
Here are some of the key findings that indicate respondents’ current practices. Of respondents:
- 45% refused to hire job candidates with criminal records only 5% of the time or less, meaning that they look beyond the applicant’s criminal background to consider their qualifications, dedication and references in making hiring decisions.
- 88% have adopted the EEOC’s guidance on how to use criminal background checks, a significant increase over the 32% of the year before.
- 66% still include “the box” on applications, in spite of the EEOC’s recommendation not to do so.
- 8% said they automatically disqualify candidates who indicate that they have a criminal conviction prior to a background check.
- 64% conduct individual assessments of those with criminal conviction records, going beyond their past to consider their qualifications.
- 38% search online for candidate information as part of the hiring process, with LinkedIn the most commonly looked at site (visited by 80% of those who do online searches; followed by a general search on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. by 63%; and Facebook by 48%).
- 50% refuse to hire 90% or more people who have lied on their resumes, indicating that falsifying information included on resumes may be worse than having a criminal record.
- 14% conduct credit checks on everyone they hire. Counter to popular belief that most companies are running credit checks, 57% of respondents to the survey don’t do them at all.
Among other notable findings were the types of conviction records that would disqualify candidates from employment. Among them, 88% of respondents would disqualify an applicant with a felony for a violent crime, and 82% would do so for someone with a felony for theft or a crime related to dishonesty.
On the other end of the spectrum, only 8% would disqualify someone with a charge that didn’t result in a conviction, only 15% for minor infractions or driving offenses and 35% for a misdemeanor drug offense. In some situations, like in the case of driving or drug-related misdemeanors, the candidates may be disqualified because of the nature of the job they’re applying for (those that might involve driving or access to medications, for example).
When given a list of options that might make a company more likely to hire someone with a “troubling criminal conviction,” 46% mentioned a certificate of rehabilitation issued by a court or legal agency. Twenty-three percent said indemnification or other safe harbor relief from negligent hiring claims, such as The Federal Bonding Program.
Six percent said a tax credit, which could be the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, a federal tax credit that employers who hire members of certain hard-to-hire groups can take advantage of. While some employers would consider these options, 41% said that nothing would make them more likely to hire candidates with troubling criminal records.
When asked how far back employers go in their criminal records search, 41% go more than seven years, 38% go six to seven years, 13% go four to five years, and 8% go three years or less.
For more details, download the entire report at the EmployeeScreenIQ website.