During your job search process, you may get tied up in the process of submitting resumes, acing networking events, and perfecting your interview skills. What many job seekers forget is another hurdle to employment: background checks.
There are a number of reasons employers run background checks. For instance, if they see you have many late payments or are otherwise irresponsible with money, they may see that as a liability. Additionally, criminal records can indicate a candidate may be prone to violence. Most employers run these checks to protect themselves from negligent hiring lawsuits if anything should happen.
What kind of information can an employer obtain during a background check?
Employers can look into a number of facts about you, including your credit history, employment history, driving records, and criminal records. If an employer uses a third party to conduct a background check, The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) ensures it’s lawful. A potential employer must notify you in writing if they intend to obtain a report, and they must get your written consent as well. If anything in your report causes an employer not to hire you, they must give you a copy of the report and a copy of your rights.
Potential employers may want to verify your employment history to ensure all the information on your resume is accurate, including where you’ve worked, when you worked there, job title, and salary. Provide contact information for a previous employer to comply, and remember—never lie on your resume!
Credit checks are reports that include personal information like your address, previous addresses, social security number, and finances, including credit card and student loan debt, mortgages, car payments, defaulted loans, and late payments. You can obtain a free copy of your report once every 12 months. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are the three major bureaus that provide employers with credit reports.
Exactly what information an employer can obtain about your criminal history varies from state to state. Some states don’t allow questions to be asked about incidents that happened at a certain point in the past. Check with your State Department of Labor to review what an employer can check. Know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says you can’t be denied employment only based on your criminal record. The employer must take into consideration the nature of the offense, when it occurred, and how it relates to the job you’re seeking.