Many professionals go through tough work interviews only to see a potential employer decline their application based on what was discovered through a background check.
For all the time and attention you put into other parts of the career hunt, it’s highly advisable to learn what a background check involves and how to prepare for it.
What is an employee background check?
Individuals or companies conduct background checks by collecting and inspecting public and private records. So what do employers look for in a background check? This includes:
- Criminal history
- Credit reports
- Work experience
- Permission to work
- Educational background
- Profiles on social media
- Driving history
- Medical documentation
There are several kinds of background checks available, and regulations governing background checks vary by state and city. Employers can use various reports based on their preferences, the specifics of the position you’re applying for, and the location of the job.
What can an employer not evaluate during a background check?
Some information can not be released to an employer under any circumstance. This includes bankruptcies over 10 years, legal cases, civil rulings, criminal histories over 7 years, tax liens that have been paid off after 7 years, and accounts placed for collection after 7 years. These conditions, however, do not apply if the position’s income is $75,000 or more.
School and military records
Businesses can only check specific documents with your permission. School documents, for example, are private and cannot be published without the student’s permission. Military service documents are kept private and can only be requested under certain provisions. The military, on the other hand, can reveal your identity, rank, salary, responsibilities, and awards without your permission.
You cannot be discriminated against because you declared bankruptcy but bankruptcies are public records, so employers can easily access them.
Background checks are subject to different laws from state to state. Some states, for example, exclude inquiries about arrests or sentences that occur more than a certain number of years. Others encourage criminal records to be included for specific jobs.
Health records are often kept private in many states. However, employers are not permitted to make employment decisions based on an existing condition you may have.
The employee background check process
Employers conduct background checks to avoid recruiting someone who may be a risk to the company or pose a danger to the workplace. More than 90% of companies perform some sort of employment background check.
An employment background check is usually performed before a person applies for a position, but it can occur at any time the employer feels appropriate. To help create a healthy and stable environment, an employer can request regular or semi-annual employment substance testing or criminal background checks.
To conduct a background check, the employer may require your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, current or previous address, and permission to run the search.
An employment background check often contains information and reports from the previous seven years, but some states allow up to ten years.
Five ways to prepare for a background check
1.Conduct a Criminal Background Investigation on Yourself.
If you’re going to do anything to prep for an employment background check, make it this one thing. Though you might believe you already know what an employer could find from a search of your criminal history — especially if you have never been arrested — this is not always the case.
2.Contact the courts to correct any false information.
If you do a criminal background check on yourself and discover criminal convictions on your record that you were not expecting to see, the next task is to fix the issue.
Assume your background check reveals that you were arrested for robbery despite the fact that you were never arrested. If this is the case, you must contact the court where the report in question was found. Explain the case and notify the court that the charge on your record is wrong.
3.Think about expunging your criminal record.
If you have a charge on your record that could risk you getting a position, you should think about having it expunged.
Different cities and states have different expungement rules. The ability to have a misdemeanor deleted from your record is determined by a variety of factors, including the severity of the offense, the years since the sentence, and whether or not you have been convicted of any other offenses.
4.Verify the truthfulness and accuracy of your resume.
Employment background checks frequently look at more than just a criminal background. For example, your hiring manager may look at your background and ensure that your job and educational backgrounds match what you put on your resume.
Take a few moments to go over your resume and double-check everything. Lying about a qualification you don’t have or a position you never had is clearly a no-go, but other more typical resume blunders, such as snazzing up your old job description, editing job dates to erase inconsistencies, and naming job roles you never had, are just as problematic.
5.Check Your Social Media Accounts
Not all bosses will look at your Instagram page, but some will, and they don’t like disrespectful and tactless videos, vulgar status updates, tweets whining about jobs, or other offensive material.
You should also keep an eye on your LinkedIn profile. Prospective employers frequently check it first, so make sure the details on your page correspond to the information on your application.
With this in mind, go through your social media profiles. If there is something on your profile that you wouldn’t want to be brought up in the interview, it’s definitely worth removing or editing.
Though you might not think of a background check as requiring much consideration or planning on your part, it could make or break your job chances just like an interview. As a result, it’s useful to consider the background check from a variety of perspectives before proceeding. You want to do everything in your power to increase your odds of being hired, which means making sure there is nothing that could disqualify you.