You’ve finally selected an applicant, and there’s just one step left; processing the background check. You’re in a hurry to get your new employee onboarded, and with the correct consent forms on file, you request a nationwide criminal search from your Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA).
National Multi-Jurisdictional Searches, or the Instant Search as it is more commonly known, seems to be a comprehensive look at a person’s criminal history. You’re confident that the results will come back efficiently and as complete as possible. But will the Instant Search catch every crime they’ve ever committed?
Instant searches do not guarantee a complete view of a candidate’s history, but there are advantages to using this search method.
What is an Instant Search?
An Instant Search, or the National Multi-Jurisdictional Search as it is sometimes titled, is often thought to provide a complete picture of a prospective employee’s background. “The Instant search is a great tool for uncovering charges in jurisdictions would not normally be searched because they are not directly linked to the applicant,” explained Jared Reeves, Quality Assurance Manager at Employment Screening Services (ESS). “The Multi-Jurisdictional search casts a net over all states, and charges, such as a DUI in an out-of-residence state, are less likely to be missed.”
The search is commonly referred to as an “Instant Search” because results are returned almost instantaneously.
Instant Searches pull information from court and Department of Corrections databases, arrest records, sex offender registries, and additional government exclusion and most wanted lists.
One of the most significant advantages of an Instant Search is that it pulls records from jurisdictions that are typically not searched per the standard policy of many companies. For example, your company policy may be to run county and statewide criminal searches on all new employees; but red flag behavior that happens outside of the person’s home state may not be discovered. An Instant Search pulls from multiple databases, increasing the likelihood for criminal conduct to be uncovered.
Additionally, the cost and speed of the National Multi-Jurisdictional Search are appealing. Instant searches are economical and return fast results, making them ideal for a short time-to-hire window.
Instant searches may have speed and various data sites on their side, but they are not always totally reliable. The databases are not consistently updated, sometimes resulting in outdated or incomplete information. The county criminal search may return clear when a national instant search displays items of concern. It is highly probable that the nationwide search is displaying outdated information, such as a charge that was later dropped by the county.
The lack of jurisdictional representation and probability of incomplete data can render an incomplete picture of the candidate or employee.
Using the Instant Search
“Using an Instant Search in conjunction with a county, statewide, or federal criminal search is the ideal option for employers looking for the most inclusive report of a potential or current employee” said Reeves. “At ESS, we recommend not using instant searches as a stand-alone search. These types of database searches are used to cast a wide net but may not always include the necessary details to confirm records.”
It’s time to review your current background screening solutions to ensure you’re hiring and retaining a safe and productive workforce. Are you ready for a professional upgrade? Contact one of our seasoned sales professionals at 866.879.0143 to get started.