Which Background Check is Right For You?

March 09, 2023
Checkr Editor

Learn how to select and tailor your background screening packages for different position types.

Editor’s Note: This blog has been updated to reflect new product offerings.

Using the right background screening package for each role helps support your organization’s efforts to maintain compliance with applicable laws and fair hiring guidance, while also optimizing turnaround times and costs. It can be difficult, however, to know how to select and tailor the appropriate package for various positions.

Here’s a closer look at what to consider when choosing background checks; the most common types of background screenings used for different positions; and how to customize Checkr’s pre-bundled background check packages to fit your needs.

What to consider

The type of background checks you may need will vary depending on the different positions for which your organization is hiring. Creating and saving screening packages for each position boosts your team’s efficiency, and using background check packages as the basis for similar roles helps to ensure screening consistency across the organization.

When tailoring screening packages for different positions, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting information that is comprehensive and relevant to the role, but you also want to optimize for cost, turnaround time, and any compliance considerations. Consider which type of screenings:

  • Reveal information that is relevant to the specific job duties
  • Are appropriate to the level of responsibility and seniority
  • Are comprehensive, but not overly broad or too deep for the role

In this blog, we’ll share examples of how to approach package creation, as well as how to do it in your Checkr dashboard. But first, let’s talk about your screening compliance and take a closer look at common types of background checks.

Screening compliance

As an employer, you have important responsibilities when using background checks for employment. Developing a written background check policy on which screenings to perform for different job functions and how to handle individualized assessments, adjudication, and adverse action increases efficiency and promotes consistent, compliant background screenings across your organization.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance on using criminal records in employment screenings and cautions that making hiring decisions based on criminal histories may have a disproportionate impact on certain protected classes. For example, blanket bans on felony or misdemeanor convictions, or considering arrests that didn't lead to a conviction, may have a disparate impact under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which could expose your company to claims of employment discrimination.

When considering information included in a background check report, the EEOC recommends first conducting an individualized assessment of the circumstances around the offense. This includes considering the nature and gravity of the offense, its relevance to the job responsibilities, how much time has passed since the offense, and how old the candidate was at the time. Fair hiring laws in some state and local jurisdictions may also require individualized assessments.

Checkr makes it easy to conduct individualized assessments through our Candidate Stories feature. Built into the candidate portal, your job candidates can share additional context around a record, such as prior circumstances and efforts they’ve made to better themselves.


State of Screening Compliance

A new survey report highlights seven key insights into how organizations are managing background check compliance.

Understanding common types of background checks

Following are some of the most commonly used employment background screenings:

Criminal records

First, a little background about the US court system and criminal records. The US has two court systems: federal courts and state courts. Crimes breaking federal laws or crossing state lines are often prosecuted in federal courts. However, most crimes involve state laws and are prosecuted in state court systems, which are typically county courts.

Nationwide criminal background check

Usually a background screening starts with a nationwide criminal background check. Since there’s no national database containing all criminal records in the US, this screening searches available digitized criminal records from all 50 states, which may come from courts, corrections departments and law enforcement agencies, and other sources. It's important to note that only digitized records are included in the nationwide criminal database, and digitization efforts vary by state and the age of the records, so older records might not always be digitized.

The nationwide criminal background check is a fast, cost-effective way to cast a broad net. Which is to say, a nationwide criminal check is a good starting point, or what we call a “pointer” search, that Checkr uses to quickly find other records that should be searched. Results from a nationwide criminal search will determine which county records should be searched for criminal records, such as felonies and misdemeanors.

Statewide criminal background check

A statewide criminal records search, which quickly finds criminal records in the entire state, can be faster and more affordable than a county-by-county search. However, the thoroughness of this search may vary due to states’ differing laws and record-keeping practices. Some state databases do not search every county in the state; and some counties do not report to the state record repository. In these cases, employers may wish to conduct a county criminal background check for the most thorough results. Organizations in industries such as healthcare or childcare may need to run a statewide criminal background check to meet compliance requirements.

County criminal background checks

County criminal checks are an important component of a background screening package since county courts are considered the source of truth for the majority of criminal records in this country. County courts are the most accurate, up-to-date sources of criminal records and most felony and misdemeanor cases are filed in county courts. Turnaround times and costs can vary, though, depending on whether records can be accessed digitally or whether an in-person visit to the county clerk is necessary.

Pass-through fees may apply in addition to the cost of a county criminal background check. Checkr passes these through to the customer directly from county courts and does not mark up any fees. Of the 3,200 counties in the US, approximately 10% charge a fee, which can range between $2-$10, though some charge $25 or more.

Federal criminal background checks

A federal criminal records check searches the nation’s courts for federal misdemeanor and felony records at the district level in the federal districts. Examples of federal-level crimes include bank robbery, fraud, embezzlement, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. Federal criminal records checks include data that might not be found elsewhere and are often used when hiring for senior roles or positions such as CPAs and financial and banking staff where crimes such as fraud or embezzlement are job-relevant.

Global Watchlist search

Checkr’s criminal background check packages include a comprehensive search of domestic and international government databases for criminal histories. This Global Watchlist Records Check covers sources including the OFAC Sanctions list, the Interpol Most Wanted list, various FBI Most Wanted lists, the US Department of Treasury Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list, and the Department of State Sanctions list.

Onsite drug screenings

Onsite drug testing enables you to administer oral fluid drug tests at your work location with results available within minutes. Checkr partners with Premier Biotech to offer a fully integrated onsite drug testing experience using the OralTox rapid oral fluid drug test. By administering drug tests onsite, you no longer have to rely on varying clinic availability and lab processing times, enabling you to expedite hiring decisions.

Employment verification

Employers may use employment verification to confirm the past positions a candidate has held and may help inform whether they have the experience and skills needed for the role. Checkr’s employment verification check confirms employment history within 1-10 years, either domestic or international. The results show the candidate’s dates of employment and titles held. An employment verification search is usually conducted using a combination of databases and manually reaching out to former employers.

Education verification

Education verification searches education databases (or, if necessary, manually contacts a school) to confirm a candidate’s dates of enrollment and degrees obtained. Employers often verify education to help ensure a person has the appropriate degree, level of education, and training, or simply to see if the candidate is being honest about their background.

Professional license verification

In highly regulated professions, such as accounting, nursing, or real estate, you may need to verify a candidate’s professional license as well. Checkr’s professional license verification confirms a candidate’s credentials are active and in good standing.

Out of country background checks

For organizations that hire US-based candidates who previously lived or worked outside of the US, you can feel confident their background history is complete by conducting an out-of-country background screening. Checkr offers international criminal background checks, adverse media, education and employment verification.

Customize Checkr’s screening packages for your needs

Checkr makes it easy to choose and customize employment background check packages. Talking through job duties, potential risks, any industry requirements, and relevant background screenings with your HR team and legal counsel will help you determine which background checks make sense for which roles. Be sure to document your decisions in your written background check policy. You may wish to start with either Checkr’s Basic+, Essential or Professional package as your initial building block. Here’s what each package includes, as well as examples of how an organization might customize each package for different types of roles.


  • SSN Trace
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Global Watchlist Records Search
  • National Criminal Records Search

Essential Package

  • SSN Trace
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Global Watchlist Records Search
  • National Criminal Records Search
  • Unlimited County Criminal Search

Professional Package

  • SSN Trace
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Global Watchlist Records Search
  • National Criminal Records Search
  • Unlimited County Criminal Search
  • Education Verification (Highest level)
  • Employment Verification (Current)

Both Essential and Professional packages include a nationwide criminal records search. As previously mentioned, this is a type of “pointer” search that may identify possible data in specific counties. When this happens, Checkr automatically kicks off a county criminal records search in those jurisdictions that have been identified in the nationwide criminal records search as having potential information.

Management roles: Professional package + optional add ons

The Professional package provides a more extensive screening that includes education and employment verification. Depending on the position, you may want to conduct additional checks. For example, if the role involves responsibility for company finances, you may want to add on a federal criminal records search or a civil court records search, which reports records of liens, lawsuits, and other civil actions.

Sales role: Essential package + optional add ons

If the salesperson won’t need to access sensitive employee data or company financial information, the Essential package may be sufficient. When the job requires driving a company car, you can add on a motor vehicle report (MVR) screening, which searches the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles database to confirm the candidate's driver's license class and status. An MVR check also reports any driving-related violations or convictions.

Customizing and saving packages in Checkr

Checkr makes it easy for your Admins and Restricted Admins to add screenings to a package and save the results as a customized package to use again later. From your Checkr dashboard, you can easily add a wide variety of screenings to your existing packages, including:

  • International employment and education verifications
  • Federal, state and county criminal record checks
  • Federal and county civil court checks
  • Professional license verifications
  • MVR checks
  • And many more

Streamline background screenings with Checkr

Your organization may use a variety of background screenings for various roles and situations. Whatever types of background check you require, Checkr can help you design the ideal suite of screening packages to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide accurate results that can help you make informed hiring decisions.

Log in to your Checkr dashboard to view your background check packages.

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Nothing in Checkr’s Blog should be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Companies should consult their own legal counsel about their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA and applicable state and local laws. Checkr expressly disclaims any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of information provided.

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