A background check is a typical part of a job application process. It is a pre-employment requirement that aims to protect the business from hiring candidates who have an unpleasant history in different aspects of their career or personal life. It is a prerequisite before you officially get employed by your prospect company. Thus, you need to understand what is a background check and how you can prepare for this.
What is a background check?
A background check is a process a company uses to verify that the applicant is who they claim to be. It investigates an applicant’s background based on the given criteria of the prospective employer.
An employee background check typically includes checking employment history, academic information, criminal records, credit history, and license records. Employers do this to guarantee to hire the right person. Failing to do background checks on employees may impact the team productivity or taint the company reputation when the wrong person is hired.
In doing background checks, companies may use a third party to check the background of prospective employees. However, using a third-party screening company to check is subject to the restrictions mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA limits the information the company may review. The federal legislation sets the general standards in the consumer reporting used for different purposes, including the employment process.
The process of checking employee background
An employer may not notify you in the event of a background check if it is done internally. When the employer decides to call your previous company for work verification, it’s an acceptable activity. They don’t need your consent to do such checking.
However, if they decide to hire a third-party employment screening company to do so, they should notify you and ask for your written authorization. In the event that you didn’t get hired, the employer must inform you of the details of the third-party company. This also gives you the chance to dispute the report made.
What employer can check in a background check
So what does an employment background check consist of? Here are the details that they can investigate in the pre-employment requirement:
1. Identity and Social Security evaluation
An employer may verify your identity and the Social Security Number (SSN) you provided if it’s you or the number is valid. They may use comprehensive databases from organizations like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
This verification also looks up your address to cross-check the accuracy.
2. Credit report
Credit bureaus prepare credit reports from various sources. The information they can provide includes name, date of birth, address, and any credit questions regarding the applicant. Credit reports include the financial institutions, retailers, and other lenders and previous credit inquiries.
Checking credit reports is crucial for employers to know, especially for applicants who’ll handle any financial-related roles. Any red flags in financial activities may impact how they will perform the job once hired.
3. Criminal records
Most criminal offenses are red flags to employers. Thus, they are so particular about doing a DBS check. Some of the offenses that can be reported include current pending charges, misdemeanor convictions, felony convictions, and both acquitted and dismissed charges.
4. Work history
The employer may call your previous company to verify if you were an employee. They may also ask about your performance, work ethics, and the kind of tasks you handled.
If you provided some references to your resume, you could expect the employer to check on them for verification. They contact these persons to ask about your work history, work ethics, and the kind of work relationship you have with them. Thus, it’s essential that you chose the right people to include in your career and character references.
6. Other records
Here are some other records that employers may include in their background check:
- Driving records
- Vehicle registration
- Medical records
- Property ownership
- Drug test results
- Military records
What employers can’t check
There is some information that employers can’t review. They are the following data:
- Bankruptcies after ten years
- Civil suits and civil judgments
- Arrest records after seven years
- Accounts placed for collection after seven years
- Paid tax liens after seven years
How to prepare for a background check
There are many ways you can look out for yourself in ensuring you pass the background check. Here are some ways to prepare for a pre-employment background check:
1. Review your reference details.
Ensure that the contact details you provided are accurate and working. Notify the people you included to expect a call from your prospective employer. Doing this will ensure that the verification will run smoothly. Also, remember always to choose the best people to speak about your work and character.
2. Keep your digital footprint clean.
Sometimes, all it takes is just a few clicks to know more about you. This is especially true if they check on social media to do a background check. With this in mind, you need to be careful in what you share publicly on your social media accounts. As much as you can, set to private the things that you don’t want future employers to see.
3. Request for your credit report.
Since your credit report may be checked, you should give it a review before they see it. So, get your credit report and take the time to review the accuracy of the information there. If you find any incorrect information, go on and dispute it with the concerning creditor. Make use of your time to spot these errors that your future employer might catch for you.
4. Be transparent and honest.
What matters the most in your background check is proving honesty and integrity. So ensure that your resume and provided credentials are true and accurate. By doing this, you are demonstrating your integrity. After all, why would they hire someone who isn’t honest in the first place? So stay true, and don’t fake your credentials to land the job.
Keep these pointers in mind when you’re actively looking for a job. Knowing these tips can increase your chance of landing your coveted job. Enjoyed this guide in knowing what a background check is? You can learn more powerful tips in ensuring you land your dream job in this online course: Land That Dream Job With The 5C Framework.
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