When employers run background checks, they often take addresses and affiliated geographical locations into account. While there is a common misconception that criminal history checks are run through a gigantic nationwide database consisting of every criminal record ever filed, there is no such database. Most criminal charges are filed at the county level, which means that most criminal conviction records are at local county courthouses. Sometimes, these convictions are reported to state repositories or compiled into multi-jurisdictional databases. Most employers will still start with county background checks in their county.
Because people tend to spend most of their time close to where they live and work, they are also most likely to have a criminal history in these areas. As a result, employee background checks often target specific geographic areas. Especially in rural areas, these checks center around the county where the candidate currently lives or is seeking a job. In cities, metro background checks—which survey criminal records from across a metropolitan area—serve the same basic purpose.
While some people have lived in the same county or metropolitan area for their entire lives, others have moved. For this reason, it is critical to expand the scope of the criminal background check to include other areas. If a person has a criminal background, their convictions may be dotted around the places where they have lived or worked. Using employee background checks to examine these areas of former residence increases your chances of finding red flags.
Using a state criminal history search or a multi-jurisdictional check is an excellent way to widen the scope, but it’s not the only way. At backgroundchecks.com, we offer address history checks, which help trace the geographic areas where individuals have resided in the past. These checks are useful for providing background information that you can use to order additional county background checks or metro background checks in places where a job candidate lived.
With background checks, it is essential to look beyond the boundaries of the county, metropolitan area, or state where your business is based. Sometimes, people with severe criminal histories will leave their hometowns or home states behind hoping that employers in other states won’t dig deeply enough to discover past misdeeds. Employers must prove this assumption wrong by running background checks that are as comprehensive as possible. The more information that you know about a candidate and their background, the more intentional you can be with your hiring decisions.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.