Background checks are a common step by companies who have applied for any type of job before hiring. The process can be quite difficult and lengthy, and depending on the position you're applying for, the company may not even hire you if they don't find anything wrong with your past. In this article, we'll go over what background checks might entail for each type of company that conducts them.
Background checks involve going through an initial review of your criminal history along with conducting a credit check on anyone who applies to work at their facility or any facility that has any sort of affiliation. This includes government agencies such as federal agencies or state-run corporations. These checks can take upwards of thirty days, and will most likely be completely done by the time you've decided to apply. Background checks are very common, so if you're applying for a job or just browsing through jobs online, you'll most likely see them in the list of requirements for the position.
What to Expect from a Job Application Background Check
The process can take anywhere from months to years depending on the particular company that conducts them. You may have to prove your identity and assure them that you're not a felon before they move on to criminal background checks (which are run through different agencies than normal ones). Then there's a credit check and once this is finished, it moves on to third-party, external services like Arbix which give the company some sort of report on the applicant, based on his or her financial history.
As you can see, background checks are very involved and a lot of work to go through. If you do not want to go through this hassle, please try your best to avoid acquiring any felonies on your record and keep yourself as financially stable as possible so that when the time comes for you to apply for a job, you'll be able to pass these checks with flying colors and be well-qualified for many positions where you'd like to work at.
16 Types of Background Checks
Background checks are a normal part of the hiring process and for consideration of employment. There are many types of checks the interviewer can choose to initiate based on the circumstances. Below is a detailed list (with explanations) for what can show up on a background check.
1. Credit Checks
A credit check will allow the employer to see how responsible you are and how good you pay your bills. If your credit history is bad, then they will not hire you because it shows that you would most likely move on to another company after a few months or years if they don't pay you enough. If your credit history is good, then they'll be more than willing to hire someone who will stay with them for years instead of just months. While it may seem like this shouldn't be a big deal, companies want people who will stick around for months or years.
2. Criminal Background Checks
Criminal background checks are also commonly used by employers to see if you have any felonies on your record. They'll most likely check your state or federal records, but sometimes they'll check private companies because they're in the best position to find out things like this. If you've been convicted of a felony, it could be a problem for them to hire you because it will affect their reputation and their business's success. Records of arrest and any consideration of arrest cannot be hidden and you should be absolutely transparent regarding any felony convictions or extensive criminal records.
Therefore, prospective employers rather be safe than sorry with this aspect of criminal background checks and would rather uncover criminal convictions themselves than be informed by whistleblowers.
3. Criminal History Record Information (CHRI)
A CHRI is an online accessible database that contains criminal history records that easily obtained through court documents. This database is only supposed to be used by the public in order to help them find out what someone's criminal history entails. However, employers use this database to screen their potential job candidates and on a shortlisted potential employee. The reason for this is because it's easier for prospective employers to get the information about the applicant through a simple search on Google, than to go through the database and obtain it that way.
4. National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI)
The NACI is another online accessible database that contains all kinds of information about you including your name and past addresses. This database is commonly used by employers in order to see if you've committed any felonies and most likely will be what the employer conducts first. They'll find out if you have a felony and then they'll go from there. This ultimately could be the deciding factor between whether or not an employer will hire you for a particular job.
5. Employment Screening Services
Employment screening services are organizations that sometimes conduct background checks on behalf of employers. These organizations normally take care of all background checks for the company while also charging them a fee in order to do so, but they also offer all their information to them as well, free-of-charge. It's a pretty good deal because the employer doesn't have to worry about conducting the background checks themselves and will most likely get their results right away.
6. Private Background Checking Services
Private background checking services are companies that do all of the necessary background check work for the employers, and then charge them a fee for this service (usually around $125 per hour). Companies use these services to do a lot of work at once, such as searching multiple databases simultaneously so that they can obtain a lot of information on one person. This is cheaper than hiring private investigators who would conduct all types of checks on just one person. Checking these kinds of databases also allows companies to get any number of results in about five days.
7. Educational Background Checks
Educational background checks are checks that employers conduct on employees in order to find out if they've graduated from certain schools and what degrees they may have received. This type of checking is used because the employer may offer specialized training for certain positions, and would rather train a person who has already been through this type of schooling, rather than spending time and money on training someone who has no clue about that specific line of work. Educational verification are not common for most jobs, but are used quite often in the professional fields of finance, investment, and very specific jobs like lawyers or pharmacists.
8. Professional Licensing Search (PLS)
Professional licensing search is another type of background check that employers conduct on potential employees in order to make sure that they are all licensed for certain positions before making any hiring decisions. They will look at the state agency's records in order to see if the employee is currently licensed or not, and how long it's been since they last renewed their license for their particular field. If the person has not renewed their license for a while, then the employer may want to look around elsewhere because it could be an indication that they're no longer interested in working there, especially if their salary range has dropped significantly as well..
9. Drug Testing
A drug test screen is a quick way for employers to see if you've taken any illegal drugs. Drug tests are not usually checked directly by the employer, but rather through a third party who takes samples of your hair, saliva, or urine in order to find out if you've taken any illegal substances. If you have been taking illegal drugs, then this is definitely something that they won't be able to overlook easily. They don't want people who can't stay focused at work and cause a potential accident because of it. You are likely needed to give consent before the results are revealed to you, but they usually can be found on your employment history which is an indication of drug use.
10. Medical and Health Screening
A medical and health screening is also a quick way for employers to see if you are fit for the job that they have. This is done by looking at your medical history and your health report in order to make sure that you are physically able to perform the job that they need. Depending upon what type of position it is, they may do this through a physical checkup where the employer and whoever they decide will be leading it will visit with you regarding your medical history, check all of your records, interview with you regarding any concerns they might have, and actually conduct all of the necessary tests on you so that you don't have to worry about it.
The checkup is likely to be comprehensive, including full body x-rays, lab tests, and even a head to toe exam. Eye checks, hearing tests and more. It's usually based on the position that the employer is hiring for as well. They want to make sure that you are going to be able to do all of that which is necessary in order to perform your job, not just as a front desk clerk at the front desk of the office but also in any other positions that you may be assigned. This type of checkup is just standard procedure and is needed in order to make sure that you are able to perform your job properly so that they can hire you and manage your performance accordingly.
11. Driving Records & Offences
A driving record is probably one of the most common checks that employers conduct for potential hires. You will be asked to give consent before it's revealed to you, but this is an indication that they only want people who know how to drive and drive safely. It's not so much about the actual driving record or the motor vehicle record themselves, but it's usually used as a way to see if you have a clean driving record or if you are willing to take responsibility for any previous accidents or traffic tickets that you've received in your lifetime. They don't want people who have had bad driving records or those who are violent behind the wheel. Consequences; You get what you pay for when it comes to these types of positions.
12. Sex Offender Checks
Sex offender checks are a direct result of the Megan's law of 1994. This law requires that all employers must conduct sex offender background checks when hiring for any type of position. Background checks have been around for a long time in the industry and now it's required that all employers do them. It's supposed to be done because there are so many cases of sexual offenders who were never caught and re-offended, but who are still out there loose due to their employers having no clue. They may have different names, new vehicles, or may even be living under an alias in a different city.
13. Identity Verification
This type of check is the most common type. Employers will usually search for personal information and then use that against you. It will be done through your name, social security number, birth certificate number, nationality/national origin and more. You could even find yourself having to get the passport number of every passport that you've ever had. Most employers will have you give consent before they can release this information to anybody which allows them to do anything they want to with it and put it on your file.
14. International, Cross-Referenced Background Checks
The most comprehensive type of background check is the international, cross-referenced background check. This requires employers to do everything that they would normally do through a normal background check, plus more. They will be required to search for you on all of the known databases that they can find in order to make sure that you are who you say you are and match up with your personal information as well. That may include anything from looking through enlistment records if they were in the military and that includes even having your fingerprints run through a database which is usually reserved for law enforcement agencies and roles involving national security.
15. Online Background Checks
Information on public records are the easiest and quickest to retrieve. It doesn't require employers to do anything in order to gain access to it. Online background checks are usually used for very specific types of positions like financial advisors, lawyers, and those who work in financial offices. They will be able to search through all of your social media platforms and review all photos and videos that you've posted in order to see your personal interests.
16. Professional Record Searches
All professional record searches are basically the same as a cross-referenced background check but they are specifically for those who have any kind of type of educational background as well as professional licenses that they've attained throughout their lifetime. They are usually very specific in what they are looking for and it's usually limited to just a few states. In some cases, it's even limited to the city and company or the field that you have worked in.
How to Prepare for a Background Check
Now that you know what to expect when an employer runs a background check on you, it's time to prepare. You don't want them to come across that fat picture from your college days and find out that you were huge. There are many things that you can do in order to get ready for a background check, and then there are other things that you can do after the fact in order to make sure they don't view any negative results and impact the hiring decision.
1. Get Your Paperwork in Order
Before anything ever happens, it's best if your paperwork is all ready. If you have records of anything related to your credit or criminal background currently available, then it makes the process go much more smoothly for everyone involved.. You need a job, so make sure that you're applying for the right kinds of jobs and not just any old job. You don't want to waste your time looking up the wrong type of position just because you have a criminal record that would make it impossible for you to find employment in certain fields. So, gather all of your paperwork that pertains to anything that can affect your ability to get hired at certain jobs.
2. Clear Your Credit
This step isn't necessary but will definitely help the process go more smoothly and decrease the chances of errors happening during the background check.. Make sure your credit is good, or at the very least, that you have nothing on your credit report that the employer would find a problem with. If you have any old debts like student loans, credit cards, or anything else that could be a problem for someone looking into this aspect of your background then it's best to start repaying them early. They'll disappear quicker than you think and look a lot better when it comes time to do the background check.
3. Be Honest and Consistent
If there are any conflicting reports about yourself or any criminal history listed under several different names and numbers, then you need to be honest about each one of them and explain everything that happened in full detail.
Should You Be Concerned About Your Privacy if an Employer Requests a Background Check on You?
It's understandable that you're a little concerned about an employer checking your background, but you shouldn't be worried about it too much. In most cases, there is nothing to worry about because the person conducting the background check will only be doing it for their own protection and won't hold anything against you if they find out that some criminal charges are linked to your name.
The reason that we need to be concerned is that there are many dishonest people out there who will use your information to do terrible things without your permission. There are also companies out there who will try to make money off of finding out what kind of information someone has on them in order to sell it to someone else. If someone is that shady in business, then they will do awful things to you regardless of what your background check reveals. Stay safe and always be completely honest about everything related to this kind of thing.
How an Employer Gets Your Information for a Background Check
This is how checks are done. First, the employer contacts the credit reporting agencies and ask them to pull up your credit report. They also may contact the police department as well as any other government agencies as necessary to get all of the info that they want.
Once they have everything that they need, your name and any other information that will be necessary for them to run a background check are passed along to a private background screening company which usually takes over the process and delivers a report at the end.
When Do Employers Conduct Background Checks
Just like you, employers also conduct background checks on potential hires at all times.
They do this because it gives them a lot of peace of mind when it comes to doing business with you. This is especially true if they are hiring someone full-time or if they have a position that requires direct interaction with customers or clients. They need to be sure that you won't be able to hurt their reputation and reputation will suffer if there are any malfunctions in the relationship between them and their employees. It makes for an even more profitable business environment when companies can hire people who stay safe and reliable as well as people who they can trust completely. Checks weed out bad hires.
As a business necessity, background checks are here to stay.
How Employers Will Use Information They Gather from a Background Check
Unlike what most people think, these pre-employment background checks are not merely meant to "know you better" or just for the job selection process.
Employers will use the information that they gather from a pre-employment screening in order to protect themselves and their business. They will figure out how trustworthy you are as well as whether or not you're likely to cause problems for them in the future. They'll pay attention to your driving record, criminal record, and credit history while they're checking out your background. They may also look into some of your other legal records if they think that anything about them is relevant to the job that you might be applying for.
Tips for Job Seekers to Help Pass an Interview Background Check
If you're planning to make a career change, get a new job or restart your professional working life, start early and begin preparing for the job search, delivering your resume and cover letter to interested employers. The best preparation you can do to pass a background check is to create a persona (a profile of yourself) that is high quality, of good standing, and where you become someone who you are willing to show off in public. Here are few tips.
- Get Certified
Go earn certificates like the Certified Federal Government Employee (CFGE) or the Certified Federal Staffing Professional (CFSP) which are professional designations that prove you have completed a rigorous application process and have acquired certifications on core competencies such as communication, time management, people skills, etc. Getting certified on skills not only are your competitive advantage, the certificates become validation that you are skillful, knowledgeable and well-rounded.
- Build Your LinkedIn Profile
Interviewers can build a profile of you to form an opinion based on what they can find online. The pre-employment background check process for applicants can be started by simply reviewing the applicant's LinkedIn profile. Posting details on your experience, and leveraging professional groups and networks will help you get more positive exposure.
- Social Media Accounts
Your social media updates and content will have an effect on your credibility and can make a job applicant appear more professional. With the use of social media, you can share industry events, highlight your skills, or give out little hints about which jobs you're seeking to be hired for. Keeping a professional presence online will keep other employers from doubting you and hiring someone less qualified.
- Find Out What Companies Expect from Expected Job Candidates
Every company has different expectations when it comes to background check process in order to hire employees. Before applying with any potential employer, find out what companies are looking for as well as their expectations based on the position that they want you to apply for.
- Keep Your Finances in Order
Establishing an appropriate financial track record is essential for obtaining employment in any field. Types of records used to evaluate an applicant's financial history include credit reports and credit score. Make sure all your accounts are up-to-date and in good standing.
- Create a Work History That Doesn't Include Jail Time
If you have ever found yourself in jail then it's really important to take the time to get rid of that from your work history. It's easy for potential employers to find out if you had been arrested so getting it off your record is crucial. There are a lot of ways to fix your criminal record but it could be expensive, take a lot of time and effort, or not even be possible at all depending on the nature of what you did wrong.
- Avoid Having a Criminal Record
First things first — never lie about having a criminal record. If an employer finds out you lied, you could lose your chances of getting a job from them, and they will likely report you to the authorities. In 2009, employers rejected 146 million applicants that did not pass the background check process.
- Have References That Can Vouch for You
Some companies may require references for new hires that are subjected to background checks. Having someone who can vouch for your work ethic is an assurance that you will be an asset to the company.
- Have Detailed Work Experience Information Written in Your Resume
Employment decisions by previous employers in the past, or even your own character judgments about each employee can be seen by the company's background check process. It is important to have a detailed resume, with dates of employment and every past experience relevant to your potential employer's needs listed there.