Updated October, 2020
File C1-80

Farm Employee Management: Applicant Background Checks

There are numerous companies that will perform employment applicant background checks for a fee. The more sensitive (or highly-paid) the employment position, the more an employer may wish to consider investing in a formal background check - which often includes a credit history check. In these circumstances, it will be necessary to obtain the applicant’s written consent to a background check and utilize the services of a company that will assure compliance with state and federal law regarding background checks. However, for many farm employment applicants, such a formal background check may not be necessary. Rather, the employer will want to conduct a background check by other available means.

Check References: Always requests references as well as names and contact information for former employers. Contact those references to ask about the applicant. Your goal is to verify information provided by the applicant on a resume or job application.

Web Search: Simply "search" the applicant’s name. It may help to add the state, school names or names of current and former communities. It will be necessary to read and determine whether information is actually about the same person, especially where names are common. Check multiple search engines to see if different results are yielded.

Sex Offender Registry: In Iowa (as well as other states), the sex offender registry is public.

Iowa Courts Online: Go to "Start a Case Search Here", then enter the individual’s last, first and middle names. Information (if any) related to both civil and criminal matters in Iowa courts will be displayed. If the name is common, more information may be needed to confirm identity.

Social Media: Go to social media sites such as www.facebook.com or www.twitter.com and search for whether the individual has a social media account. Information that individuals make public on such websites is accessible to prospective employers.

Address/Phone Websites: Several websites allow free searches by name, phone numbers or addresses. Checking such address websites can reveal history about where the individual has lived, how often they have moved and whether such information matches that provided on an employment application. Similar sites include -




Another site that provides some free background checks is www.intellius.com – however, this site also provides some more in-depth background checks for a fee.

Farm Employee Management Series Articles
C1-70 - Get the Right Start in Hiring Employees
C1-71 - The Job Interview, and What Questions Can I Ask?
C1-72 - Do We Need an Employee Handbook?
C1-73 - Assembly of Farm Job Descriptions
C1-74 - Put Job Descriptions to Work on Your Farm
C1-75 - Evaluation and Selection of Job Candidates
C1-76 - Getting the New Employee Off to a Good Start on Day One
C1-77 - Employment Eligibility Verification – The Basics of Form I-9 Compliance
C1-78 - New Employee Orientation
C1-79 - Farm Safety and Hiring Youth on the Farm
C1-80 - Applicant Background Checks
C1-81 - Terminating Employees in Iowa
C1-82 - Health, Stress, and Well-Being


Melissa O'Rourke, former extension farm and agribusiness management specialist


Melissa O'Rourke

former extension farm and agribusiness management specialist
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