Most employers run a background check before hiring someone new.
Whether it’s a minimum wage job or a top secret position, you may need to undergo a background check to get hired.
But what do employers discover on a background check? How far back does an employer background check go? Should you be worried about an employer background check? Today, we’re explaining what employers see on a background check.
First, most employers will use a background check to verify your employment history. Maybe you claim to have worked at the CIA for 20 years. The employer could trust you. Or, they could run a background check to verify your employment history.
A background check can identify the names of previous employees, your job title, your salary, and other information about previous professional positions. Sometimes, employers check this information automatically. In most cases, however, the employer will contact previous employers to request this information.
Employers may check your credit. A credit check can reveal personal information like your address, previous addresses, social security number, financial picture, debt, car payments, credit history, and more.
Why does your employer care about this information? Well, if you are in charge of finances for a company, then your employer may want to verify you have a good financial picture. An employer may not want to hire someone with debt problems to handle a multi-million dollar budget, for example.
Curious about what’s on your credit report? You can obtain a free copy of your report once per year from each of the three major credit bureaus in the United States. Request a report from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion to discover what employers see on your credit check.
Running credit checks on employees is controversial. 11 states have prohibited employers from checking your credit during an employment screening. States where the practice is prohibited or limited include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Additionally, New York City has passed legislation preventing employers from running a credit check on prospective employees.
The criminal record check is the most important part of an average background check. The employer can see any major offenses on your criminal record, including felonies and convictions.
The details of a criminal record check vary depending on your state, the background check service, and your employer. If you’re applying for a job with the federal government, for example, then you might undergo an extensive criminal record check, and years of criminal history might appear on this check.
Generally, you can expect an employer’s criminal record check to reveal seven years of criminal convictions, including minor and major offenses. However, more serious convictions – like felonies – may appear on a criminal record check for life.
Why Do Employers Run Background Checks?
Employers interview candidates to ensure they’re qualified. So why do employers also run background checks? Background checks give employers crucial information about the candidate.
Reasons to run a background check include:
Job Competency: If you’re hired to be a rocket scientist, then your employer might want to verify your educational and professional qualifications. They want to check your school and work history to verify you can perform your job effectively.
Workplace Safety: Employers have a certain responsibility for protecting employees and customers. Employers run a background check to protect themselves from dangerous employees – like people with a history of violent crimes or someone who has previously attacked a coworker. If an employer hires a dangerous person, and that person attacks an employee or customer, then the employer may be liable because the employer did not conduct an adequate background check.
Workplace Theft: Someone might apply to a job specifically because they want to steal. Someone might request a job at a bank, for example, to identify the inner security systems of a bank. Or, someone might attempt to get hired a tech company to install a tracking system or hack a database. Employers have a responsibility to protect themselves from theft performed by insiders, and background checks deter workplace theft.
Verify Honesty: An employer background check verifies a new employee’s honesty. Was the prospective employee honest about their educational and professional experience? Did the employee try to hide a previous conviction? Lying about information on a background check could cast doubts on the employee’s honesty and integrity.
Other Things to Know About Employer Background Checks
Confused about employer background checks? That’s okay. Here are other things you need to know about employer background checks.
Be Aware of Ban the Box Laws
Many states have passed ‘ban the box’ laws that prevent employers from asking about your criminal record until the later stages of the hiring process. Employers cannot screen candidates immediately by forcing them to check a ‘box’ confirming their criminal record. Instead, employers must assess each candidate fairly, then only perform a criminal record check during the later stages of the interview process.
Your Employer Must Use an FCRA Compliant Service
Employers cannot use free background check websites or similar sources to verify your information. Instead, they need to use a background check service that’s compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These background check services must abide by specific legal standards and follow rules. Free background check reporting websites often have no regulation.
Your Employer Must Inform You of the Background Check
Employers cannot check your background without your permission. Employers must request your permission before running the background check. If the employer takes action against you because of your report, the employer must notify you in writing and provide a copy of the report, giving you the right to dispute inaccurate information.
An employment background check reveals crucial information about the candidate. It can reveal the candidate’s professional and educational background, for example. It can protect employers and their employees from danger, theft, or liability. It ensures a safe and effective workplace for everyone.
Curious about what employers are seeing on your background check? Run a background check on yourself. You may be surprised what’s out there.