Should Job Seekers Be Worried About the Pre-Employment Background Check?
You’ve spent weeks scanning online job boards, asking friends and family about possible employment opportunities, and making contacts with all manner of professionals in your industry. You’ve gone through your resumé a dozen times with a fine-toothed comb and determined that it is subjectively and objectively perfect. You’ve landed half a dozen first-round interviews, made it to the second round on half of them, and found a job that is perfect for you at a company you respect. You are just a few steps away from scoring the employment you’ve been dreaming about and working toward for years. There’s just one thing left standing in your way: the pre-employment background check.
If you’ve applied for a job this decade, chances are that you’ve signed a consent form agreeing to let your prospective employers dig into your background. Depending on who you are, you may view this background check as a gross invasion of privacy, a routine safeguard that employers put in place to protect themselves from unsavory people, or anything in between. However, now is not the time to ponder the ethical questions of a bunch of people you don’t know very well analyzing every facet of your life, from criminal history to credit records, academic past to driving record. Background checks are the norm in the employment circuit, and if you want to get a job, you are going to have to bite the bullet and sign the consent form.
However, now is the time to ask yourself a handful of other questions – namely, “Am I ready for my dream job employer to start looking through my background?” and, “Am I ready for the pre-employment background check?” Those questions are more complicated than many applicants realize at first, and involve more considerations than any criminal offenses you may think you have on your own record. While most of us think of background checks as a device to root out felons and sex offenders from applicant pools, different screening methods can actually involve the perusal of a much broader range of information than just hard core criminal convictions. To answer the above questions, you should be worried about these checks if you haven’t done the following:
Made Sure the Information is Correct: You may think your background is squeaky clean, but countless applicants have for the right or wrong reason lost out on dream job opportunities due to an unforeseen – and potentially incorrect – piece of information on their background check. Whether it’s a wrecked credit report due to an identity theft case you didn’t know about or a common name that pulls up the record of another person who shares your name, background checks can paint a bad portrait of you through no actual fault of your own.
If you are going to be on the employment trail for a while, it’s worthwhile to run a criminal background check on yourself. See what your criminal record looks like in the eyes of employers. Find out if there is anything wrong with your credit report. Double-check your driving record. If you do these things, you will be able to determine ahead of time if there are errors in your background check report and clean them up before employers start raising eyebrows.
Been Completely Honest on Your Application: Okay, you don’t have to reveal every aspect of your personal life to your employer from the word go. Financial woes are a largely personal subject, and some states have banned the box that allows forces you to otherwise reveal criminal history on a job application. However, employers will also look into your academic and professional history, so don’t lie about your former job titles or responsibilities, and don’t pretend you went to an Ivy League institution if you didn’t. Such instances of resume dishonesty are easy to find and will make a prospective employer wonder about what else you’ve lied about.
About the Author
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.