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What Shows Up on Employment Background Checks?


You’re working on mastering your interview skills and polishing your resume to perfection. However, where does that leave you regarding employment background checks? That’s a detail many candidates tend to overlook during their job searches and throughout the interview process. While aceing networking events is a critical skill to have, knowing what’s showing up during your screening is just as important.

The information a prospective employer finds is subject to privacy-protection regulation due to its sensitivity. Hiring managers must use these background checks in connection with their decision according to the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). They also must follow the requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) specifies.


Why Do These Screenings Matter?

Employment background checks uncover a considerable amount of information. Therefore, you may feel anxious if a potential employer finds something you believe is less than stellar. Another concern might be if they find inaccuracies. That’s especially true if that’s been the case with other background checks in the past. These issues are common for anyone who is in the market for employment.


What Can You Expect from a Pre-employment Background Check?

Nearly all pre-employment background checks include:

  • Criminal background checks
  • Verification of past employment
  • Education record checks
  • Professional licenses checks

If you’re applying for work where you must drive the company vehicles, then expect a vehicle record background check to occur also. If your prospective employer wants you to operate large machinery, motor vehicles, hazardous equipment, or are responsible for public safety; then you can also expect drug screening to occur too.


What Typically Appears on an Employment Background Check?

Depending on the kind of employment background check the employer is ordering, they’ll see a wide variety of information. These facts include your driving records, credit history, criminal records, and employment history. Because the employer is using a third-party to conduct this screening, the FCRA will ensure its lawful. Before it occurs, they’ll inform you and request written consent from you. If they find anything that causes them to decide not to hire you, they must furnish a copy of the report to you.

Here are examples of what they may find:


Credit Check

A credit check includes your personal information. You’ll find your address, previous address, name, former name if you have more than one marriage, social security number, and debts. If you have any late payments, loans in default, and student loan debt, these finances will show up with all your other open accounts.

You can receive one free copy of your credit report every year. The three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and Transunion—each allow you to place this annual request. Your potential employer will see the same information you do.

If you’re going to work at a job where you’re handling money or with finances, the employer is likely going to look at your credit history. The main reason is that the prospective employer wants to know how well you are at handling your finances. If you have substantial amounts of debt or unpaid accounts, that’s a red flag for not being able to handle the job.


Criminal Records

Every state has different laws regarding what potential employers can gather in a criminal background check. For example, some states don’t allow employers to ask questions about an incident that occurred beyond a certain point. The state’s Department of Labor has information regarding what employers can check.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a potential candidate can’t be denied employment based on what a prospective employer finds on their criminal record. Potential employers must consider these facts:

  • The nature of the offense.
  • The date of the offense.
  • How does the offense relate to the candidate’s potential job?


Education and Professional Licenses

Employers often look at this just as critically as your past employment experience. The third-party agency they hire will contact the educational and licensing institutions you list on your resume. That way, they can verify the course of study and licenses that you indicate. If you include licensures, they’ll make sure they’re up-to-date. Under some circumstances, an employer may request a copy of your degree, certificate, or transcript.


Employment Verification

Potential employers use background checks to verify the accuracy of a candidate’s employment history. That way, they can ensure there’s nothing false, no gaps, and nothing left off purposely. Employers are looking for information regarding where you worked, the dates, the positions you held, and your earnings. You can remain compliant with this part of the background check by supplying a factual resume.

Employers want to hire an honest candidate. Therefore, if you lie on your resume and get caught, they’re uncovering that you’re dishonest and untrustworthy. Honesty is always the best policy. No matter if you believe a small fib about a date or position won’t matter, it does.


Social Security Traces

During this background check, employers find a great deal of information. Each time candidates use their social security number in a new county, or if they use it under a different name, the Social Security Administration must receive this information. So, employers use a social security trace to ensure potential candidates are disclosing information regarding:

  • Previous addresses if a request is on the application.
  • Are there former names they used when employed by other companies?
  • Other locations they worked that may not be on their resume.


Prepare for the Findings

You can prepare for what shows up on an employment background check by understanding what employers may find. For example, ordering a copy of your credit report ahead of time is a good idea. That way, if there are errors, you can dispute them and provide documented evidence of your efforts. You should also request a copy of your driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicle. That way, you can discuss anything potential employers may find concerning on your screening.

Request copies of all records you believe may show up in your screening. At the same time, contact your previous employers and ask them to send copies of your personnel file. That way, you know what your references will be discussing regarding your background.

Take a look at what you’re doing online. Do you have multiple social media accounts or a blog? Are you presenting yourself professionally? Remember, in addition to ordering an employment background check; employers are also conducting independent research. Therefore, you must make sure you’re not posting any damaging information.


Final Thoughts

Employers use employment background checks to gather data about candidates during the hiring process. Depending on the reports they order, they’ll find a wide variety of information regarding your educational, driving, credit, employment, and criminal history.