5 Things Every Employee Should Know About Background Checks

frazzled_guy_HRO_Today_Blog-239902-editedPre-employment background screenings are commonplace today for many positions that companies are looking to fill.Organizations are often performing these background checks to ensure they are not putting their place of business and other employees at risk, and are typically searching for violent or fraud charges in your past. 


1. The Process

When a background check is performed, financial and criminal history information is often reviewed. The employer will obtain information from credit bureaus, local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine your fitness for the position you’re applying for.

Financial information may not be reviewed unless you’re trying to get a job at a financial institution that is putting you in the position of advising or counseling clients on how they handle their money. Criminal history information is often of interest to employers who will put you in regular contact with customers and other employees, and even inside clients’ homes.

Information contained in a pre-employment screening includes prior charges and convictions, as well as the disposition of any cases in your history. If you were convicted of a violent crime or fraud, this is often most important to employers. Applying for a position that requires you to drive a company vehicle on behalf of company business will also include any traffic violations that are part of public record.


2. Who Can Perform Background Checks

In order to perform a background check, you will have to sign a form or check an application box giving your potential employer permission to do so. Criminal records and driving records are not just handed out to anyone unless they have your identifying information such as Social Security number and date of birth, and they must have an agreement from you.


3. Reference Checks vs. Background Checks

Reference checks are different from background checks in that they do not involve requesting criminal, driving and/or financial records. A potential employer will perform your reference check by contacting former employers and other associate information you provide to them. They will often inquire about your work ethic, strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, and whether you would be eligible to be rehired.


4. Social Media Background Checks

As social media continues to gain popularity among the general population, some potential employers will perform a social media background check by viewing your profiles. They will often look for incriminating photos and posts to see if your online reputation and behavior conflicts with what you have presented in your resume and interview.


5. Industries That Don’t Typically Perform Background Checks

Most industries conduct background checks today, but if you know you have an unsavory criminal background, there are some companies that either don’t conduct one or will still accept employees as long as the information is disclosed to them.

Smaller, family-owned companies may not conduct background checks because they are not always inexpensive. Telephone customer service jobs, delivery driver and restaurant positions will often either not conduct a check or accept ex-offenders, according to In addition, you always have the option of working as an independent contractor in the industry you’re skilled in, and this will avoid a background check unless you bid on large-company and government jobs.

Legislation passed in 2015 outlawed the ability for employers in some states to even ask if you are a convicted felon. Many government jobs do not perform background checks, says Huffington Post, unless that job involves security, child care, school employment or law enforcement. Research the laws in your state and industry standards where you want to apply for a position.

If you will be asked about criminal history, it should be disclosed in the job listing, before you even apply. Just remember the best policy on this subject is honesty – many misdemeanor crimes are overlooked by most employers if they are made aware of it by you instead of being surprised by records in the background check.


About the Author: Sophie Wright is a passionate writer and a blogger. She started freelancing as a way to connect to other people, to reach to their hearts and make a difference with her word. Her Free Background Checks blog was born out of a pure desire to connect… to have the freedom of writing what really matters, what actually makes a difference.

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