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In order to make the most beneficial hires for your company’s success, conducting background checks on all applicants is a must. You’ll want to know the potential hire’s criminal history, his or her past employment, and any instances within those past companies that may have occurred. However, the methods in which you are able to obtain this information must follow strict guidelines. With that said, always know where to draw the line when researching a potential hire.

An applicant’s privacy should always be respected when looking into his or her professional background, which is why handing the screening process off to a company that provides such a service is typically the safest decision. That way, the strategies used to find all available public knowledge on the potential hire are legal and morally accepted. When employers take employee screening into their own hands, more often than not, illegal tactics are used to found out all they can on an individual they may be considering hiring.

One strategy that is highly complicated and should typically be avoided altogether is researching applicants through their social media profiles. There are many legal obstacles that come with deciding whether or not to hire someone due to the information found through their Facebook, Twitter, or other profiles mostly due to the fact that these were created to express their social lives rather than their professional lives. However, if you do wish to utilize social media when screening applicants, be sure to clearly explain your intentions beforehand, and do not try access a profile that is blocked or private.

Drug tests are not always mandatory in the eyes of certain employers, but depending on the job and its given responsibilities, this can be extremely important. Again, clearly outlining in the application process that a mandatory drug test will be conducted is the first step in obtaining this information legally. On the contrary, asking an applicant in person whether or not they have done drugs in the past is highly inappropriate, and in some way an indication of an inexperienced human resources department.

Depending on the state in which your business lies, the ‘Ban the Box’ movement has made accessing an applicant’s criminal history that much more difficult for employers who wish to obtain that information. While the campaign can be seen as a positive for previously convicted individuals wishing to re-enter the working world, businesses that base their platforms off of such a past are no longer allowed to inquire about this information. However, those wishing to enter law enforcement or education are exempt from this campaign.

When choosing to conduct a background check on a new applicant (which is highly suggested), be sure to know the limitations with which you can and cannot access the individual’s personal information. Breaching the terms of contract or proceeding without an applicant’s permission can lead to a variety of legal issues, as well as cost a potentially profitable hire.