By Amy Trail 

Social media has allowed us to get deep inside the lives of practically everyone we know on a level that we’ve never seen before in human history. For better or worse, with one swipe of a social media app, you can see what your coworkers had for breakfast, who your cousin is now dating, and whether or not your high school bully has gained 50 pounds. The world we live in today is really transparent. Or is it? We think we know everything about everyone, but do we really?

Background checks, or “vetting”, which is the more common industry term, is a multi-million dollar enterprise. While a lot of information can be found on publicly published websites, there are layers upon layers of details that require a professional hand to reveal. 

Larger and smaller companies alike are becoming more inclined to do their due diligence with people that they hire. When you’re trusting years and years of work in the hands of a new employee, there’s a certain sense of well-being that is experienced when you know that your employee doesn’t have a money laundering felony, for instance. 

There isn't one be-all-end-all database for criminal background checks for employment

Are you aware that in order to get a truly thorough picture of who a person is, you have to comb through their entire work history and every place they’ve lived for the last seven to ten years? Anybody can look lily white in one county/parish but he may have a criminal record in another. 

The information that you need to get the entire scope of someone’s history is located in county/parish court houses and on count/parish databases. We all know how hit-or-miss government institutions can be, so it sometimes takes an expert to navigate these governmental mazes. 

Even though we are well into the digital age there are still databases that exist solely on paper. If you don’t know where to go or where to look, you can end up lost in a paperwork labyrinth. Picture yourself at the bottom of a Mount Everest of governmental records with nothing but a grumpy, half-asleep clerk as your only guide. No thanks

When you hire a professional vetter, it’s like hiring a knowledgeable tour guide to ferry you through the forest of governmental record. They know where to go for the clearest views, which trails not to follow and how to identify clues that may lead to better pathways. 

Background checks are not just for individual people, you can also vet an entire organization

Have you ever been looking for a job and you find it; your dream position. There’s no experience necessary, plenty of work to go around, you get to work from home and in “No time, you too can be your own boss!!!” Sound too good to be true? It probably is. 

A professional vetting company can do the work for you to find out whether or not a company is legit. Before you pay that low, low fee of “$799.99” to get their course material shipped directly to your house, you can hire a vetting company to get all the relevant details to help you make an educated decision. 

This works on a larger scale for an organization or company application as well. Say one company wants to merge with another company but before they pull the trigger they need more info. A professional vetting company can check whether or not the prospective company has liens, pending or settled lawsuits and can also look into the individuals who work for the company. 

There is very little room for error in most company’s profit margins. It’s never a bad idea to look before you leap when it comes to doing business with other businesses. 

Criminal history checks are just one of many types of background checks

When we think of what a “background check is” often what comes to mind is a search of criminal records. You may be surprised to learn that there are actually several different types of background checks available in today’s market. 

Here are just some of the different types of background checks: 

Prior Employment Verification: Let’s make sure that brain surgeon we want to hire actually worked at Johns Hopkins and not Down Da Bayou Taxidermy.

Education Verification: Does your nanny reeeeaaallly have dual Master’s Degrees from Harvard? 

There’s also Sexual Offender Registry Checks, Credit Checks, and a Custom Check (you figure out what you need and your professional vetter can figure out how to get it). 

Practically anything you want to know can be researched and backed up with hard facts and evidence. 

Social Media and Google searches don’t qualify as background checks in the court of public opinion

While sharing all your bits and pieces on social media is quite commonplace, there’s still a lot that people can hide. Also, people, organizations and companies can expertly craft and image of how the want to be perceived. This doesn’t always correspond to who/what they actually are. 

Securing a thorough background check can help to mitigate you or your business’ risk in the event of an illegal or unfortunate unforeseen circumstance. For instance you can use your background check to build a separate culpability from yourself or your business if an individual or company that you are connected to engages in criminal activity. 

If you have a paper trail that you did your due diligence as a business or individual in engaging with a nefarious entity, this can sometimes help you build a case in a court of law. Doing your part to make sure you really know who you’re involving yourself with can absolutely protect you personally AND professionally. 

In summary…..

While the practical applications of vetting can vary from the self-indulgent side like figuring out how much your boyfriend’s house is worth, there are also very legitimate reasons you may want to do a little snooping around from time to time. Money spent on preventative, proactive protection is always money well spent. 

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