What Job Seekers Need To Know About Employment Background Checks

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If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve applied for a job at least once in your life, which means you’re familiar with the process. You fill out a job application, answer some questions about your skills and maybe attach a resume. But what happens after that? How exactly do employers pick the employee that’s the best fit?

What many job seekers may not realize is how big of a role pre-employment screening plays. This allows employers to gather more information about candidates to help them filter out applicants that would be a poor fit for their company. While there are many types of pre-employment screening practices, one of the most common is employment background checks.

So, what exactly does this mean and how does this process affect you? When a potential employer performs a legal employment background check, they can access your private information like your criminal record. While you may think that an employer may not be aware of this information because you never explicitly disclosed it, this is not entirely accurate. However, in most cases, an employer is required to inform you if they are planning to conduct a background check on you. Many applications state that a background check will be performed and some even give the option of whether or not you consent to a background check being performed. Unfortunately, employers have the right to refuse to hire you based on whether or not you consent. Likewise, this means that if you find out that a background check was performed but you weren’t informed, this could be a violation.

Additionally, there’s a lot of confusion about employment background checks. Here are some of the most convincing myths:

Most employers don’t perform background checks

Job applications themselves can feel so long and time-consuming to complete that the idea that there could be any other information required can seem ridiculous! However, the reality is that over 70% of employers perform a background check on every applicant. Additionally, over half of employers require not only a background check, but drug testing, as well. Don’t believe the lie that background checks are unimportant or unnecessary! Always be prepared for an employer to look into your background including your criminal history, drug history, educational background and previous work experience.

If an employer does perform a background check, they are only looking into past work experience

Many applicants believe that an employer simply wants to verify their past work experience and check their references. While this is an important part of a background check, potential employers want to make sure they are truly hiring the best person. This means that they will dig deeper into your criminal history and personal life to know you on both a professional and individual level.

Employers can obtain any information about you that they wish

When applying for a job, some job seekers assume that an employer has the right to dig up any information about them that they wish. However, that’s not true. While there is an obvious power hierarchy in a job seeker-employer relationship, don’t let that intimidate you. There are very specific rules that an employer must follow when it comes to background checks and if these rules are broken, employers could face serious legal repercussions.

First, they must get your written consent before they conduct a check. Second, even with this consent, employers are not allowed to look up everything about your personal life. For example, employers aren’t allowed to request a credit score for potential employees. They are allowed to look into your previous employment, educational background and criminal record.

Know that if you don’t give permission for the background check, an employer has the right to refuse to hire you based on whether or not you consent. Likewise, this means that if you find out that a background check was performed but you weren’t informed, this could be a violation.

A white lie on your application won’t hurt you

Looking for a job can be an exhausting process, especially if you have been doing it for a while. It can be tempting to twist the truth to make you look like the better applicant. However, when employers do background checks, they can easily unearth the truth about who you are and what you’re capable of. For example, if you claim to have worked at a company that has never even heard of you, this information will be uncovered during a background check. No matter what the situation, it’s always best to be honest.

If you are a job seeker, stay informed about employment background checks and what they entail.

Remember that most employers rely on background checks as a staple tool of their pre-employment screening plan and the more you learn about them, the better prepared you will be.


This guest post was written by Laura Greene
. Laura Greene is one of the content managers for TrustedEmployees – creative people who provide businesses, non-profits, and volunteer organizations with a tailored and compliant approach to background screening through personalization, innovation, and dedication.

5 comments

  1. Sadly, HRM has become little more than an conveyor belt assembly line. The applicants spend a ridiculous amount of time filling out online “applications” that a human never sees. If the computer accepts the screening, eventually the applicant may speak with a person – maybe. Some companies don’t even give the courtesy of an acknowledgment of the application in process, nor notification to the applicant of the standing. What is never known is if anyone actually read the application, or simply relied on the computer application.
    HRM also ignores the fact the company is being screened by the applicant, as well. An applicant may have a question, which once answered, may mean the applicant is not interested in the company or the position. However, until the applicant reaches a living, breathing person, that can’t be determined. Get it together, HRM! Remember the first letter stands for “Human.”

  2. Technology has made it so much worse for 99% of people. Data driven destruction now if you get terminated from one job it follows across states and international borders Also getting fired doesn’t have a statue of limitations it follows you for an eternity.

  3. Employers may benefit from technological advances but job seekers not at all. First instead of saving time and energy it does the opposite. Before you would mail a copy of your resume. Now in addition to uploading your resume you also have to rewrite all of the information contained on the resume.

  4. Employers may benefit from technological advances but job seekers not at all. First instead of saving time and energy it does the opposite. Before you would mail a copy of your resume. Now in addition to uploading your resume you also have to rewrite all of the information contained on the resume.

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