The Shocking Cost of a Bad Hire

Did you know a bad hire can cost your business up to 30% of that employee’s annual salary? This cost can be even higher for Illinois businesses when considering turnover, lost productivity, and potential litigation. Imagine hiring a new manager who ends up stealing from your company, causing distrust among employees and ultimately leading to a costly lawsuit. This nightmare scenario highlights the importance of thorough background checks.

Protecting Your Illinois Business with Thorough Background Checks

A Cautionary Tale

Picture this: a thriving small business in Chicago hires a new financial officer. This candidate has an impressive resume and nails the interview. However, within a few months, company finance discrepancies emerge. The new hire had a history of financial misconduct, which could have been uncovered with a proper background check. This oversight led to significant financial loss and a tarnished reputation for the business.

The Solution: Thorough Background Checks

Conducting thorough background checks is essential to avoid such disastrous outcomes. These checks help verify the integrity of potential hires and protect your organization from future problems. This article will explore the costs of bad hires, Illinois background check laws, types of background checks available, and tips for choosing a reliable provider.

Article Overview

In this article, we will delve into:

  1. The financial and operational impacts of a bad hire in Illinois.
  2. The legal framework governing background checks in Illinois.
  3. There are different types of background checks employers can use.
  4. Tips for selecting a reputable background check provider.
  5. Addressing common concerns about background checks.

By the end of this article, you will understand how to protect your business with comprehensive background checks and make informed hiring decisions.

The Cost of a Bad Hire in Illinois

Quantifiable Data

Bad hires can be incredibly costly for businesses. Let’s break down the average costs associated with hiring the wrong person:

  • Turnover Rates: High turnover rates are a significant issue. According to a recent study, replacing an employee can cost a company 6 to 9 months of that employee’s salary. This can be a substantial financial burden in Illinois, where the job market is competitive.
  • Cost of Recruitment and Training: Recruitment and training expenses add up quickly. The process can cost thousands of dollars per hire, from job postings to onboarding programs. When that hire turns out to be a bad fit, these costs are wasted.
  • Lost Productivity: A bad hire often disrupts team dynamics and reduces productivity. Employees may spend more time correcting the bad hire’s mistakes, leading to lower efficiency.
  • Potential Legal Fees: Negligent hiring lawsuits can be extremely costly. Employers may face legal action if they fail to conduct appropriate background checks and a bad hire harms customers or other employees.

Real-World Examples

Here are some anonymized case studies and news stories of bad hires in Illinois businesses:

  • Employee Theft or Fraud: A small retail business in Springfield hired a new cashier without conducting a background check. Within months, the company experienced significant inventory losses. It was later discovered that the cashier had a history of theft from previous employers.
  • Workplace Violence: A manufacturing company in Peoria hired a worker who seemed perfect on paper. However, the worker later assaulted a coworker. A background check would have revealed the individual’s previous violent offenses.
  • Negligent Hiring Leading to Customer Harm: A delivery company in Chicago hired a driver without checking their driving record. The driver, with a history of DUIs, caused a serious accident, injuring a customer and leading to a costly lawsuit.

These scenarios highlight how background checks could have prevented such issues. By verifying the criminal history, employment history, and other relevant information, employers can make more informed hiring decisions and protect their businesses from the high costs of bad hires.

Illinois Background Check Laws and Regulations

Understanding the legal framework for background checks in Illinois is crucial for employers. Here are the key laws to be aware of:

  • Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA): This law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, and other protected categories. Employers must ensure that their background check processes comply with these protections.
  • Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act (IECPA) restricts employers from using credit history for employment decisions, except for certain positions where such information is relevant (e.g., financial roles).
  • Ban the Box Law: Illinois has implemented a “Ban the Box” law, which prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on the initial job application and only allows them to inquire later in the hiring process.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Although a federal law, FCRA is crucial in Illinois. It regulates how employers can use consumer reports, including background checks. Employers must obtain written consent from applicants before conducting a background check and follow specific procedures if they decide not to hire based on the results.

Employer Rights and Responsibilities

Employers have certain rights and responsibilities when conducting background checks in Illinois:

  • What Employers Can Check: Employers can check criminal records, employment history, education verification, and references. However, they must comply with the Illinois Human Rights Act and the Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act.
  • Obtaining Consent: Employers must obtain written consent from applicants before conducting a background check. This consent should be a separate document outlining the background check process.
  • Adverse Action Procedures: If an employer decides to take adverse action (e.g., not hiring an applicant) based on the background check results, it must follow FCRA procedures. This includes providing a pre-adverse action notice, a report copy, and a summary of rights under the FCRA. After a reasonable waiting period, the employer must send a final adverse action notice if it decides not to hire the applicant.

Compliance Tips

To adhere to Illinois laws and avoid lawsuits, employers should:

  • Use Compliant Background Check Forms: Ensure consent forms and notices comply with state and federal laws.
  • Work with Accredited Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs): Partner with CRAs that are accredited and knowledgeable about Illinois laws.
  • Document the Process: Keep detailed records of the background check process, including consent forms and communication with applicants.

Types of Background Checks Available in Illinois

Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks are essential for identifying potential red flags. They can be conducted at various levels:

  • County Level: These checks search local county court records for criminal activity. They are often the most detailed but may not cover offenses outside the county.
  • State Level: State-level checks search statewide criminal databases. They provide a broader view but may miss country-specific details.
  • Federal Level: Federal checks search for crimes prosecuted at the federal level. These include serious offenses like drug trafficking and financial crimes.

Criminal background checks reveal convictions, arrests, and pending cases. Employers should consider the nature of the crime and its relevance to the job. For example, a conviction for theft might be more relevant for a financial position than a delivery driver role.

Employment Verification

Verifying an applicant’s employment history is crucial to detecting resume fraud and confirming the candidate’s experience. Employment verification checks:

  • Employment History: Confirms previous employers, dates of employment, and job titles.
  • Job Performance: Provides insight into the candidate’s performance and reasons for leaving previous positions.

Education Verification

Education verification ensures that candidates have the degrees and qualifications they claim. This process confirms:

  • Degrees Earned: Verifies the degrees and qualifications listed on the resume.
  • Institution Accreditation: Ensures that the educational institutions are accredited and reputable.

Reference Checks

Contacting references can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s work ethic and character. Employers should:

  • Ask Relevant Questions: Focus on job performance, strengths, and areas for improvement.
  • Speak to Multiple References: Get a well-rounded view by speaking to different references, including former supervisors and colleagues.

Other Types of Checks

Depending on the position, other background checks may be necessary:

  • Credit Checks: Permissible under the Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act for certain positions. These checks provide insights into financial responsibility.
  • Driving Records: Essential for positions involving driving. These checks reveal driving offenses, DUIs, and license status.
  • Professional License Verification: Confirms that the candidate holds the necessary professional licenses and certifications.

DIY vs. Professional Services

While some employers may attempt to conduct background checks themselves, professional services offer several advantages:

  • Accuracy: Professional providers have access to comprehensive databases and are more likely to uncover relevant information.
  • Compliance: Professional services are well-versed in legal requirements and help ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
  • Efficiency: Professional providers can conduct thorough checks more quickly, reducing hiring time.

What to Look for in an Illinois Background Check Provider

Criteria for Selection

When choosing a background check provider, consider the following criteria:

  • Accreditation and Memberships: Look for providers accredited by organizations like the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).
  • Turnaround Time: Choose a provider with quick turnaround times to avoid delays in the hiring process.
  • Accuracy and Data Sources: Ensure the provider uses reliable data sources and has a track record of accuracy.
  • Compliance: The provider should be knowledgeable about FCRA and Illinois laws and help you maintain compliance.
  • Customer Service and Support: Look for a provider with excellent customer service to assist with any issues or questions.
  • Technology and Integrations: Choose a provider with advanced technology and integration capabilities to streamline the background check process.

Addressing Common Concerns about Background Checks in Illinois

Myths vs. Reality

Many misconceptions surround background checks. Let’s debunk some of the most common ones:

  • “Background checks are too expensive.” While there is a cost associated with background checks, the expense is minimal compared to the potential costs of a bad hire. Investing in background checks can save your business money in the long run.
  • “Background checks take too long.” Professional background check providers offer quick turnaround times. Most checks are completed within a few days, ensuring an efficient hiring process.
  • “Background checks are discriminatory.” Background checks help ensure a safe and reliable workforce when conducted fairly and consistently. Following legal guidelines and providing individualized assessments is crucial to avoid discrimination.

Privacy and Data Security

Reputable background check providers prioritize data security. They use advanced encryption methods to protect applicant information and ensure confidentiality. Employers can trust that their applicants’ data is handled securely and complies with privacy laws.

Fairness and Equal Opportunity

It is essential to use background checks fairly and consistently. Individualized assessments help avoid discrimination by considering the nature and relevance of any findings. This approach ensures that all applicants are treated equally and fairly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does a background check take in Illinois?

The time it takes to complete a background check in Illinois varies depending on the type of check and the provider. On average, most background checks are completed within 3 to 5 business days. However, some checks, such as federal criminal searches or verifications from international sources, may take longer.

How far back do employment background checks go in Illinois?

In Illinois, employment background checks typically go back seven years. However, certain types of checks, such as criminal history checks, can go back further if required by law or relevant to the position. Employers should consider the job’s nature and the information’s relevance when determining how far back to look.

How much does a background check cost in Illinois?

The cost of a background check in Illinois varies depending on the depth and scope of the check. Basic checks, such as criminal history searches, can range from $20 to $50. More comprehensive checks, including employment, education verifications, and credit checks, can cost between $50 and $100 or more. Professional background check providers often offer packages tailored to different needs and budgets.

What shows up on a background check in Illinois?

Background checks in Illinois can reveal a wide range of information, including:

  • Criminal Records: Convictions, arrests, and pending cases.
  • Employment History: Previous employers, job titles, dates of employment.
  • Education Verification: Degrees and qualifications.
  • Credit History: Financial responsibility (when permissible under the IECPA).
  • Driving Records: Driving offenses, DUIs, license status.
  • Professional Licenses: Verification of necessary licenses and certifications.
  • Reference Checks: Insights from former supervisors and colleagues.

How to get a background check in Illinois

To get a background check in Illinois, follow these steps:

  1. Determine Your Needs: Identify the type of background checks you need based on the position and industry.
  2. Choose a Provider: Select a reputable background check provider that meets your accuracy, compliance, and turnaround time criteria.
  3. Obtain Consent: Ensure you have written consent from the applicant before conducting the background check.
  4. Submit Information: Provide the necessary information to the background check provider, including the applicant’s details and the specific checks you require.
  5. Review Results: Once the background check is complete, review the results carefully. Consider the relevance of any findings to the job position.
  6. Follow Legal Procedures: If you decide not to hire based on the background check results, follow the FCRA and Illinois laws regarding adverse action procedures.



Bad hires can be costly for Illinois businesses, both financially and operationally. Comprehensive background checks are essential to mitigating these risks. Employers can make informed hiring decisions and protect their bottom line by understanding the legal landscape, utilizing various background checks, and selecting a reliable provider.

Call to Action

Protect your business and your bottom line. Contact us today for a free consultation on how our Illinois background check services can help you make informed hiring decisions. Don’t let a bad hire cost you—ensure your workforce is reliable and trustworthy with thorough background checks.