Do Different Jobs Need Different Background Checks?

When companies are looking to hire, they typically start with the job description and the specific qualifications and traits they believe will be best suited for the position. However, many hiring employers don’t stop to consider what might be even more important, which is how sensitive is the specific position. Different placements within an organization are allowed varying degrees of access within a company. This includes executives in the C-Suite all the way down the line to a temporary worker in HR. This is why it is good to carefully consider the different ways each position within your company may be vulnerable to risk. Running background checks on all employees is a best practice, but you may want to go beyond a routine pre-employment screening given the sensitivity of the new employee’s role. Here are some good examples of positions and the associated role-specific screenings that a background check program should have:


Hiring individuals who will have access to company finances, such as valuable client information, accounts payable, receivables, administrative access to credit card or bank account information, etc. should undergo more scrutiny in the background screening. A complete financial background check, to include a credit report, should be considered. A social security number search and verifying their education and previous employment are important, as it confirms their identity and their qualifications. However this is just the baseline. Their background check should also include a state-wide criminal check as well as a federal criminal history search. This will unearth any fraud or financial crimes they may have been committed in other in-state jurisdictions outside their place of residence or employment, as well as Federal crimes. Keep in mind that Federal charges can be much more severe as these are investigated by the FBI, US Secret Service, DEA, IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security and prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office. Crimes can include: Terrorism, bank robbery, identity theft, fraud, money laundering, embezzling, insurance/credit card/tax fraud, forgery, etc. Federal records can also include a search of bankruptcy records and tax liens. Simply put, employees who may be having trouble with money, may not be the best candidates for a finance role.

C-Suite or Executives

These individuals typically have more access to confidential business information than the majority of the workforce. For this reason, special care should be taken when backgrounding them. In addition to the usual criminal searches, civil litigation should also be checked. Have they been sued previously for wrongdoing or are they currently involved in litigation? And why? Other worthwhile hunting grounds for information can be business filings and the media. It is worth exploring whether or not they are affiliated with any other businesses, particularly undisclosed ones. It is also important to research whether or not the individual applying for the position has been featured in any news coverage that would call into question their candidacy for the position. Knowing this information could help protect your organization from conflicts of interest or harm.


When hiring an engineer you are looking for individuals who will help your business innovate and grow, but it is even more important to ensure you hire someone who values protecting those innovations. The standard social security number trace, criminal and civil searches and previous employment verifications are just the first steps you should take. Verifying their education and any credentials they have listed is particularly important. For example, if a candidate is claiming to have a PE (Professional Engineer) license, making sure it is current is crucial. And since each state has its own licensure requirements and rules of reciprocity, it is important to make sure any license they have listed is valid in your state. Some companies opt for annual background screening of individuals who hold licenses to ensure they remain valid and in good standing. Identifying other business affiliations they may have, particularly undisclosed ones, is another area to include in the background check of an engineer. The discovery of any concerning business relationships, conflicts of interest or red flags of corporate espionage would help mitigate risk to your company. Investigating whether or not the person has any patent filings is also valuable information to be aware of.    

Sales Representatives

A sales representative position may seem like it warrants a basic background check that includes a social security trace, previous employment checks, criminal searches and possibly a verification of education. However, sales people often have more access than one might realize. This means access to information, which can often be client-specific details and pricing and confidential product and service information. For this reason, running a civil records search should also be included in their background screening. This will ensure they haven’t been involved in employment-related litigation which could impact their eligibility for the position.

School Employees

When hiring individuals who will be working with children, a more thorough background check is necessary. Verifying their social security number and the accuracy of the education and credentials they have listed on their resume is important. You want to ensure they are who they say they are and that they’re being honest about their qualifications. Checking their previous employment and references is also important information. Having a criminal history search and national sex offender search conducted is imperative for obvious reasons. Additionally, if the individual will be driving children around then a driving record (MVR) and drug screening should be included as well.

Healthcare Workers

Knowing who you are hiring is critical in healthcare. This can be doctors or nurses or the pharmacist at your local drug store. These individuals have access to all kinds of protected HIPPA information, financial records, addictive substances and most importantly we put our lives in their hands. A comprehensive background check is necessary to protect all of us. Verifying education, credentials, state licenses and past employment determines if they’re qualified for the job. Federal, state and local criminal, as well as national sex offender searches should be run in order to prevent exposing employees and patients to dangerous individuals and situations. Additionally, if the position you’re hiring for has access to addictive medications, then drug screening is a must.

Working With Vulnerable Populations

If an organization is working with vulnerable populations, one of their highest priorities should be keeping them safe. Working with children, the elderly or disabled individuals takes a special kind of person. And that person should always be backgrounded. Many charitable organizations don’t have sufficient background screening processes. The same thorough background check conducted on school workers is a good reference, which should always include a sex offender registry search.


Background checking drivers should include more than just verifying their previous employment and education. It should always include running a criminal record search along with their driving record (MVR). And if they’re going to be interacting with the public (i.e. delivery services or transporting individuals), especially vulnerable populations, then running their name through the national sex offender registry is recommended. Additionally, the federal government has other employment screening requirements specific to the various transportation modes (airlines, railroads, municipal transit, pipelines, etc.) that businesses in those industries must follow.

Creating an effective pre-employment background check program means inspecting each role that you’re hiring for. Determining the different ways each position could impact your organization negatively will enable you to tailor each background check accordingly. It’s good to remember that all employees gain different amounts of access within a company, but the good news is, a well-thought-out background screening program can help mitigate that risk.

When your business needs assistance with employment screening, criminal checks, FCRA compliance, drug screening, education and employment verification, driving records (MVR), credit checks or social security number validation, contact the Swailes Background Team to get quickly signed up.