The Importance of Background Checks for Staffing Agencies

If you run or work for a staffing agency, you’re probably in the somewhat unusual position of having to screen applicants not only for multiple job types but also for multiple industries.

Your healthcare clients may have different needs, for example, than your construction clients, your nonprofit clients, or your financial clients. Each industry might require a different type of background check.

For staffing agencies, consistently making strong placements is critically important. A poor placement can impact your relationship with your client, damage your reputation, and ultimately affect your bottom line. Fortunately, running background checks on the people who apply to work through your agency can increase your success rate by improving the quality of workers you supply and putting your clients at ease. This, in turn, helps your firm stay competitive.

Whether you’re filling full-time or part-time positions, temporary or permanent ones, your company’s success rests on being able to supply your clients with high-quality, reliable workers. Background checks can help you do it.

What types of background checks do staffing agencies run?

The exact types of screenings run by a staffing agency vary according to the needs of the staffing agency and its clients. The following are some of the most standard pre-employment and corporate due diligence screenings:

SSN trace

A social security number trace, or SSN trace, finds all the current and past addresses associated with your placement’s social security number. This ensures that appropriate criminal history searches can be done in all the jurisdictions in which an applicant has lived.

Criminal background check

Criminal background checks can be done at both local and national levels to ensure that your candidate has no criminal history or felony convictions that could pose a threat to your client’s company, employees, or customers.

National Sex Offender Registry check

This search will check your applicant’s name against sex offender registries across the country. This is an important screening under any circumstances, but it’s particularly vital in cases where an applicant will be working with vulnerable populations such as children.

Drug screening

For companies with anti-drug policies in place, or for positions that call for operating machinery or driving vehicles, a drug screening is an essential step in keeping your client’s workplace safe.

Employment verification

This verification ensures that your applicant has the employment history—including job title, responsibilities, organization, and employment dates—that they claim, and thus the experience needed to do the job.

Education verification

Similar to employment verification, education verification checks the educational background a candidate has on their resume to confirm their degree, dates of attendance, and field of study, and makes sure that they attended an accredited institution.

Motor vehicle report

Essential if the position being filled calls for any kind of driving, a motor vehicle report gives you insight into your applicant’s driving history and will let you know if they have a record of DUIs or serious traffic violations.


This screening is especially important when placing applicants in financial firms to ensure compliance with Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulations. This search looks for a history of complaints, lawsuits, or arbitration filed by customers, disciplinary actions by the SEC or FINRA, or past employment with firms that have been expelled from the securities industry.

How to conduct a background check

Most staffing agency contracts promise that the agency will exercise “due care” in vetting applicants before placing them with a client. In order to make sure that background checks are conducted consistently, legally, and quickly, it’s important to have a policy in place.

At a minimum, your policy should include:

  • A written document stating which screenings will be conducted and under what circumstances
  • A system to be sure your background checks are legally compliant
  • A system to inform applicants of their legal rights, allow them to dispute errors, and inform them of your decision to place or not place them with a company

How do I stay compliant when running a background check?

It’s important to stay in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations regarding background checks. Staying in compliance ensures that applicants are treated equally and fairly. Just as importantly, you protect your company and prevent potential lawsuits by staying on the right side of the law.

At the federal level, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that the organization running the check must inform the applicant of their rights, get their written authorization to run the screenings, and keep their information secure. If you decide not to hire an applicant based on the results of their screenings, it’s important to follow the correct steps to inform the applicant and allow them to dispute the findings and correct errors.

Background checks must also comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws and with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin or citizenship.

Below the federal level, laws vary from state to state and sometimes even city to city. Some states prohibit asking about a candidate’s criminal or credit history until after an initial interview has been conducted or a job offer made, for instance.

The best way you can stay in compliance is to be aware of the laws that regulate your specific jurisdiction. Working with a professional background check company can help you understand the laws and stay in compliance with them.

Seek out a professional and avoid the hassle

Running background checks can be time-consuming, and they must be run in strict adherence to legal regulations. Failure to do this can make you vulnerable to lawsuits.

The easiest way to save time, stay in compliance, and be sure that your background checks are thorough, complete, and accurate is to work with a professional screening company. This is especially true for staffing agencies, which usually handle a much higher volume of applicants than other businesses.

At EagleScreen, we can streamline the process for you. In most cases, all you need to do is give us your applicant’s email address and we’ll take it from there. We’ll inform your applicant of their rights, get the information and signatures we need from them, run the screenings, and let you know the results. Best of all, the entire process can be integrated with your existing applicant tracking software, so you’ll have the information you need, where you need it and when you need it.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your staffing agency find the best people for your clients, contact us today to set up a free demo.

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