Criminal background checks for employment are becoming more and more routine today. While some companies have moved away from this trend in an effort to help people re-enter society from prison, others have focused more on finding better ways to investigate just who they are hiring. Why do companies do this? Here are four of the top reasons companies insist on criminal background checks for employment.
The reality of liability in the corporate world
Companies are responsible for the actions of their employees. If an employee happens to commit a crime on the job, the company can face a lawsuit that could hurt the company's bottom line. The company can incur even more liability if the company doesn't conduct due diligence on the people it's hiring. Corporate legal departments and risk prevention executives understand that conducting criminal background checks is an effective strategy for deflecting some of this liability.
The public relations risks of hiring someone with a record
While companies can gain positive press if they're willing to give work to people with a record, there is also a public relations risk on the other side. Companies today are increasingly risk averse. They don't want a situation to blow up in their face when the public finds out they hired a person with a DWI record to drive their company car. Criminal background checks allow companies to manage the public response and win the PR battle.
There's value in hiring stable people
The existence of a criminal record does not necessarily mean a person is bad or unreliable. Companies do need metrics to analyze potential hires, though. Whether a person has been involved in criminal activity is a good way to distinguish responsible candidates from those that might be volatile. For companies that value stable employees, conducting a criminal background check for employment purposes makes a lot of sense. This process can help companies steer clear of people who might bring too much drama to the workplace.
Identifying employees who lie
It's often said that the cover up is more damaging than the crime itself. Many employers will ask applicants whether they have been charged with or convicted of a crime. They will then conduct a background check to see whether the applicant was up front about the criminal history. In these instances, the criminal history is less of a problem than the fact that the applicant couldn't be trusted. Many managers place trustworthiness high on the list of desirable traits, so it pays to put this sort of test somewhere in the application process.
If you're searching for a job, you might wonder why employers are so concerned about criminal history. After all, that arrest for petty theft was six years ago, and you've changed. There are some employers who will be willing to give you a second chance, but they deserve the opportunity to make this decision with full knowledge of your background. If you own a company, wouldn't you feel better knowing who you're hiring for the coveted positions available in your company?