Along with the job application process is a background check. After making it past an employer’s short-list, your employer may take a closer look at your work history, identity, financial, and criminal status. Most companies believe that by performing background checks, they can prevent themselves from hiring someone who will be a risk to them. Companies can use websites like Check People to quickly review this information
To be prepared for your background check, here are some practical steps that you can take.
Information regarding your identity
One of the most important things employers are looking for is if you are who you say you are. Therefore, they may ask for two separate pieces of photo ID, including your driver’s license, health card, student card, passport, or birth certificate. With these pieces of ID, your address may also be verified. Often, if this piece of information is inaccurate, it signals to the employer that other inaccuracies such as your identity may hold falsehoods.
Additionally, a request for a social insurance number is common practice. Hiring managers may confirm your SIN by searching extensive databases, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration records. Employers can then determine if your SIN number is valid and if it belongs to you. This search will also reveal if this number has been used in the past if you’ve lived under previous addresses, if you used any former names when employed by other companies and if you have had any other jobs.
Employers will actively look to verify the accuracy of a candidate’s employment history, including any false information, gaps, or other missing information. Fact checks will include the location you worked at, dates you were employed, positions you held, and your wage. As long as you applied for a job with a factual resume, this part of the check shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Education and other relevant licenses
Employers may also conduct an education check to verify your degree is from the institution you claimed. They may also look to verify dates, grades, and honors statuses depending on the role being applied for. If a professional license is required, a separate verification process will also be conducted.
If you’re applying for a job that involves the use of company vehicles, employers may also request information about your driving history.
A background check will also reveal an employee’s relevant criminal background. These checks will show criminal offenses at the state and federal levels. Some of these offenses include misdemeanor convictions, current pending charges, and acquitted charges. In some cases, arrests surrounding a later dismissed case may also appear in a background check.
Applicants who are concerned about a previous criminal record have assurance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that an employer can’t turn them down on the sole basis of their arrests.
Instead, employers will also look at:
- The nature of the offense
- The date of the offense
- How the offense may impact the candidate’s potential job
That said, civil matters (such as a restraining order) will likely not appear on a criminal background check unless an applicant has violated the terms.
Drug and alcohol tests
As a part of a background check, employers may make a job offer on the condition the candidate passes a drug or alcohol test.
Previous credit history
In some American states, employers can request a candidate’s credit report before they send over a formal offer. Although having a bad report is not typically a deal-breaker, for positions that require an employee to hold a company credit card or have other financial dealings, it may appear as a deterrent.
Thorough background checks may also look for bankruptcies. Although this information can be made available, you will still be required to explain why the bankruptcy occurred. This information is not available in a background check, and if it does come up, employers will likely be fairly understanding if you have valid reasons.
Anything posted online
Many businesses have begun conducting a do-it-yourself (DIY) background check. A DIY background check is conducted by typing the applicant’s name into a search engine and carefully reviewing the results. Results may include business pages or social media sites. Although the information may be old or easily taken out of context, being mindful of what you are posting online can help you present a professional image.
The bottom line
Employment background checks allow employers to gather information about an applicant’s identity, criminal records, driving history, and other relevant information. The good news for the applicant is you can prepare for the results of the background check. For your credit or driving records, you can request the information ahead of time and review it for discrepancies. Doing so will ensure your records are up to date and there are no unforeseen problems down the road.