You’ve landed a great job and the only thing left to do is give your new employer permission to run a professional background screening. Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s natural to ask yourself, “What do employers look for in a background check?” As it turns out, the answer can vary depending on your local laws as well as the type of position you’re pursuing. Keep reading to learn more about what comes up on a background check, and how you can address any negative aspects of your personal or professional history.
Verifying Basic Information
Your basic information – including your birth date, social security number, and address – is a major part of what comes up in a background check. Strange as it may sound, there are identity thieves who try to adopt false identities for employment purposes, so a basic verification of your information can protect your new employer and prevent applicants from falling victim to these scams. A background check may also verify whether the job history and educational qualifications you listed on your application are accurate.
Employers looking to conduct a more comprehensive search of your personal and professional background may turn to your credit report or to any criminal records you might have. A credit check is sometimes required when a candidate applies to a position in the finance industry. Extensive background checks of any kind are more common for high ranking positions and, in some cases, they may even be required for employees who work with certain populations – such as children, people with disabilities and the elderly. The extent of a hiring manager’s access to this type of information will largely depend on your local laws.
Understanding the Limitations
Keep in mind that employers cannot legally request a background check from a third party entity without your approval. In other words, if your employer hasn’t asked you to provide a signed consent form, you can probably put aside any fears about what a background check may unearth. Your employer also can’t access your medical records, even if a suspected medical condition will affect your future job performance.
To learn exactly what information an employer can and can’t legally obtain in a background check, visit the website for your state’s department of labor. If you have concerns about a certain blemish a prospective employer might dig up, consider disclosing the problem in advance. Understanding and addressing any negative issues up front can put employers at ease and prevent unpleasant surprises later down the line.
Have you had any unexpected or negative experiences with background checks? Let us know in the comments below.
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