Background checks have become a common practice among employers in recent years. As part of the hiring process, a background check is used to verify the information provided by job applicants and to ensure that they have a clean record. It helps the employer to determine if an applicant is a suitable fit for the job position and if they have a criminal record or other red flags that might pose a risk to the company.
Ultimately, background checks are essential to the hiring process, and employers must conduct them responsibly and ethically. In this ultimate guide, we will go over everything employers look for in a background check. So, without further ado, let's begin!
Types of Background Checks
Employers can choose from several types of background checks, depending on the industry, position, and job requirements. The most common types of background checks are:
- Criminal Background Check: This type of background check examines an individual's criminal record. It can reveal any criminal convictions, arrests, or pending charges.
- Employment Background Check: This type of background check verifies an individual's employment history, including job titles, responsibilities, and dates of employment.
- Education and Credential Verification: This type of background check verifies an individual's educational degrees and credentials. It ensures that the applicant has the necessary qualifications for the job.
- Credit History and Financial Records: This type of background check examines an individual's credit history, including debts, bankruptcies, and judgments. It helps the employer to determine the applicant's financial responsibility.
- Professional References: This type of background check verifies an individual's professional references. It ensures the applicant has a positive work history and good relationships with previous employers.
- Social Media and Online Presence: This type of background check examines an individual's social media accounts and online presence. It can reveal any inappropriate behavior or red flags that might disqualify the applicant.
Why Do Employers Conduct Background Checks?
Employers conduct background checks for several reasons. First, they want to ensure that the individual they want to hire has the required experience and qualifications for the job.
Second, they want to ensure that the person has no criminal record that could put the company at risk.
Finally, they want to ensure that the person is who they say they are and that their employment history and academic credentials are accurate.
Legal Considerations for Background Checks
Employers must conduct background checks responsibly and ethically. They must comply with state and federal laws that regulate background checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law regulating consumer reports, including background checks.
According to the FCRA, employers must obtain written consent from applicants before performing background checks. They must also provide the applicant with a copy of the report and notify them if the report is used to deny employment.
Employers must also comply with state laws that regulate background checks. Some states prohibit employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history until after the initial interview. Other states require employers to provide the applicant with a copy of the report and an opportunity to dispute any inaccurate information.
What Do Employers Look for in a Background Check?
Employers check for several things in a background check, depending on the job requirements and industry. Here are some of the most common areas that employers examine:
Employers check an individual's criminal history to determine their criminal record. A criminal record can disqualify the applicant from certain job positions, especially those that require a high level of trust, such as in finance or law enforcement. Employers examine the severity and nature of the crime, the length of time since the conviction, and whether the crime is relevant to the job position.
Employers check an individual's employment history to verify their work experience and job titles. They also look for any gaps in employment and reasons for leaving previous jobs. A stable work history and positive references from previous employers can increase the applicant's chances of getting the job.
Education and Credential Verification
Employers check an individual's educational degrees and credentials to ensure they have the required qualifications for the job. They verify the school attended, degree earned, and graduation date. They also check for any false claims or misrepresentations.
Credit History and Financial Records
Employers check an individual's credit history and financial records to determine their financial responsibility. They examine any debts, bankruptcies, or judgments. Poor credit history can be a red flag for employers, especially for jobs that involve handling money.
Employers check an individual's professional references to verify their work history and relationships with previous employers. They look for positive feedback and relevant experience. A lack of professional references or negative feedback can be a red flag for employers.
Social Media and Online Presence
Employers check an individual's social media accounts and online presence to determine their character and judgment. They look for any inappropriate behavior or red flags that might disqualify the applicant. Employers must be careful when using social media and online presence in background checks to avoid discrimination and invasion of privacy.
How to Prepare for a Background Check
Preparing for a background check is essential to ensure the process goes smoothly. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a background check:
Review Your Resume and Job Application
The first step in preparing for a background check is thoroughly reviewing your resume and job application. Make sure that all the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date.
Double-check your employment history, educational background, and any certifications or licenses you hold. If you find any discrepancies or inaccuracies, correct them before the background check.
Check Your Online Presence
In today's digital age, your online presence can also be a factor in a background check. Employers may search for your name on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. So, ensure your social media profiles are up-to-date, professional, and appropriate.
Remove any photos or posts that may be offensive or controversial. If you have a personal website, review it to ensure it presents you in the best light possible.
Gather Necessary Documentation
Before the background check, make sure to gather any necessary documentation. This may include identification documents, such as a driver's license or passport, and any employment or educational records. So, ensure these documents are readily available in case the background check company requests them.
Be Honest and Upfront About Any Issues
If you have any issues in your background, such as a criminal record or a termination from a previous job, it's important to be upfront and honest about them.
Trying to hide or cover up these issues will only worsen the situation. Be prepared to explain the circumstances and your actions to address the issue. After all, honesty and transparency can go a long way in building trust with a potential employer.
Follow Up After the Background Check
After the background check, following up with the employer is a good idea to ensure the process is complete. This means asking if any issues or concerns need to be addressed. If everything checks out, you can ask about the next steps in the hiring process.
Understanding Your Rights During a Background Check
As a job applicant, you have certain rights during a background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers to inform applicants before conducting a background check and to obtain written consent. If the employer decides not to hire you based on the background check results, they must inform you and provide a copy of the report.
Common Mistakes to Avoid During a Background Check
There are several common mistakes that job applicants make during a background check. These mistakes can delay the process or even cost them the job. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
- Providing inaccurate information
- Failing to disclose information
- Providing incomplete information
- Failing to respond to requests for information
- Not being aware of your rights
What Happens After a Background Check?
After completing a background check, the employer will review the report and decide whether to hire you. If the report shows you have a criminal record or other negative information, the employer may decide not to hire you. However, you may be offered the job if the report is clean.
How Long Does a Background Check Take?
The length of time it takes to complete a background check can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of information being checked, the accuracy of the information provided, and how quickly the employer responds to requests for information. Generally, a background check can take a few days to several weeks.
Final Thoughts on Background Checks
A clean background check is essential for getting a job. Employers conduct background checks to ensure that the applicant is a suitable fit for the job position and does not pose a risk to the company. As an applicant, it is essential to be honest and accurate when filling out the job application and providing information for the background check.
Furthermore, reviewing your credit history, social media accounts, and employment history is essential to ensure accuracy and remove any red flags. Doing so will increase your chances of passing the background check.