Background checks are a major step in the employment process; companies of all sizes need to conduct background checks on applicants before hiring. Even if you’re the best candidate that’s applied for a position, if something appears through the background checks like a conviction on your record or previous substance use, it can highly affect an employer’s decision to hire you.
Why do employers run background checks?
There are multiple types of background checks like a criminal background check, credit history check, drug & alcohol test, employment verification, and education verification.
The most popular background check is the criminal background check because employers request to review an applicant’s criminal record before hiring, looking for any arrests, felonies, or misdemeanors,
to ensure the applicant wouldn’t pose a danger to their business, employees, or customers. Other reasons background checks are conducted include:
- Protect your business by avoiding theft, fraud, and other crimes, that could happen in the workplace by hiring people you trust. Not everyone with a criminal record is a bad person but hiring someone with a dangerous criminal history can cause problems in your business.
- Negligent hiring can lead to legal problems and potential lawsuits if an employee or customer are harmed, sexually harassed, or violated. Such problems can cause huge financial losses for your business as well as negatively impact your business’s reputation.
- Businesses that neglect running background checks on new hires run into problems down the line like finding out the employee isn’t as qualified as they’ve claimed or that they lied about their education. Then you’ll need to waste more resources and time on interviews and a rehiring process.
The employer can set a background check program according to the job position; it may include a few or all of the different types of background checks. For example, if it is a financial position, they must check your credit history and run a criminal background check.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets the laws and regulations for an employee background check. In some cases, like those that work with children or the elderly, a background check is mandatory before hiring.
How can background checks affect your chances of getting hired?
- If you have a criminal history
Employers run a criminal background check on candidates to ensure they don’t have any serious crimes on their record. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) set certain regulations to ensure those with a criminal record get fair shots in job opportunities like “Ban the Box” laws where employers aren’t allowed to ask employees about their criminal record and some regions have regulations against asking about arrests that didn’t lead to convictions.
Many employers wouldn’t mind minor offenses or misdemeanors but sometimes misdemeanors can turn into felonies or they can include jail time. However, repeat offenders, sex offenders, fraud, embezzlement, or other serious felonies can be a vital reason for not getting a job.
A criminal background check doesn’t show convictions beyond 7 years ago, but just to be safe you can request to get your record expunged, if eligible. Employers are required to get your written consent before conducting a background check and if anything shows up on your record that led the employer to reject your application, you’ll get a pre-adverse action letter with the reason of rejection, giving you a chance to dispute the results.
- If there is a mistake or incorrect info on your record
Even if you have nothing on your record and so have nothing to worry about, that may not always be the case.
Sometimes there can be mistakes or incorrect info in the results and this can be due to an error from the consumer agency, similar identity to someone else, clerical error, missing info in the original documents, expunged cases still showing, arrests with no convictions, or misdemeanors listed as felonies.
Unfortunately, mistakes happen and this can affect your chances of getting hired.
But since the employer sends you a pre-adverse letter and a copy of the results, you’d be able to dispute the results and prove it was a mistake. The employer will give you the consumer agency’s info to contact them.
If you have proof that there was a mistake, which you can obtain from the court or law enforcement agency, it’ll be corrected. However, to avoid wasting time and possibly losing the opportunity, you could run a background check on yourself to ensure everything is correct before applying for the job.
- If you have a poor credit history
A CareerBuilder survey showed that 29% of employers check credit reports before hiring; this includes information like financial accounts, previous payments, available credit, loans, etc. If you have any debts, missing payments, or bankruptcies – it’ll show up on this report.
Most employers run this check for financial positions like an accountant or someone that will handle large amounts of money. They need to know if you’re smart with your money and are trustworthy, this will be reflected in your credit report.
- If your driving record has issues
Similar to a credit history check, if you’re applying for a job that requires driving, for example, like a truck driver or taxi driver, the employer will most likely run a driving record check.
A speeding ticket or late license renewal wouldn’t harm you but if you’ve had an accident because of reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol, it’ll definitely affect your chances of getting this job.
- If you have a history of drug abuse
Many jobs require a drug & alcohol test before hiring, especially sensitive positions that deal with children or the elderly like teachers, caretakers, security guards, nurses, or doctors.
Whether it is a DUI, controlled substance charge, or failing a drug test, this could be a big risk for the employer and will lessen your chances of getting the job.
- If you’ve lied on your resume
Unfortunately, over 53% of applicants lie on their job applications or exaggerate on their resumes. It can be an exaggeration in your qualifications or skills or even lying about your education or past employment.
And so, many employers do verification to ensure you’re not lying. For example, they can reach out to your previous employer and ask for their feedback and if they’d recommend you as well as verify job titles, employment period, and pay history.
As for education, most employers will ask for your certificate or a transcript but they can also contact the educational institute for further confirmation.
The employer must get your written approval before running a background check on you so you’d have an idea of what they’re going to do before they do it. If you don’t want anything negative or any surprises to ruin your chances of getting a job, run a background check on yourself to be assured. You can even find out what consumer reporting agency the employer is using and contact them for assistance.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How does Live Scan work?
The requesting agency provides the applicant with a Request For Live Scan Service Form.
The applicant then takes the form along with proper identification to the nearest live scan location to get fingerprinted via live scan.
This is then sent to the DOJ, FBI, or both to be processed.
The DOJ then sends the results to the requesting agency only.
What do I need to get a live scan?
The requesting agency should provide you with a “request for live scan service form”. You will need to fill that out, you will also need to bring a primary form of I.D. such as a Driver’s license or a CA ID
Where do I get the Live Scan request form?
The agency that is requesting the Live Scan must provide you with the Request For Live Scan Service form. Your requesting agency should have their information entered for you on the “contributing agency information” section of the form. Livescan locations will not have the live scan request form for you on site.
How can I find my criminal background for personal use?
You can print out a Record Review Live Scan Form, take it to the nearest live scan location, and the results would be sent to your address, Read More.