Feeling nervous about background check results is normal. But worrying isn’t helpful and it won’t change the outcome.
While you can’t influence the outcome of a background check, you can lessen your anxiety by finding out what the background check involves; and that’s going to vary from company to company.
What Will The Employer’s Background Check Look For?
All background checks involve an identity and criminal record search. Companies can choose to run further checks if they want to.
To find out what kind of information the employer running your background check is looking for, there are a couple of places you should check.
The subreddit for the company, and the Indeed Q&A page for the company.
Reddit – Reddit is an enormous online community with subreddits devoted to everything under the sun. To get to the subreddit where employees of the company hang out, use a search engine to search for the company name followed by Reddit. For example, Walmart Reddit or Amazon Reddit.
Then, in the subreddit search bar, enter “background check” to see all the questions other people have already asked about the company background check.
Check through the responses to find out how in-depth the background check is, and what kinds of issues lead to disqualification.
If you create an account, you can post your own question and highlight any specific concerns you have that haven’t already been answered.
Keep in mind that these aren’t official responses from the company, just current or past employees sharing information.
Indeed – Indeed is a job search website and along with job listings, they have a Q&A page for each company. Use your search engine to search for the name of the company followed by Indeed. Then, select the Q&A option from the website menu.
You’ll see a selection of categories, and one of those will be “background check”. Just select that category, then check through the questions and answers.
By using Reddit and Indeed, you’ll find out what type of checks the company carries out, how far back into your history the background check will go, and what to expect if adverse information is found.
Is The Company A Second Chance Employer?
If you’ve got a criminal record and you’re nervous about your background check finding it, check to see if the employer is a second-chance employer.
Second-chance employers don’t automatically reject candidates with criminal records. Instead, they consider whether a past offense has any bearing on your ability to do the job and whether it presents a risk to the safety of the company and its other employees.
Head over to The Second Chance Business Coalition website and go to their About page to see a list of the companies involved with that program.
To find other employers offering second-chance employment, use your search engine and enter “list of second-chance employers” or a similar query.
When a company is a second-chance employer, they may only be interested in more recent offenses, so an offense older than 5 or 7 years, for example, might not be an issue.
In other cases, recent offenses aren’t necessarily disqualifying, but they’ll often ask for more information from you before they make a final decision.
What Types Of Searches Does A Background Check Involve?
Your background check could involve any or all of the following checks.
- Identity & eligibility to work
- Criminal records search
- Employment history
- Academic and professional qualifications
- Driving record
- Social media activity
- Credit history
While a company can carry out all of these checks, whether they do so depends on their background check policy.
Let’s look at each one in turn.
Your Identity & Employment Eligibility
All employers need to carry out this check because it’s legally required.
The identity information you supplied with your employment application will be cross-checked to ensure it’s accurate. Your citizenship or your immigration status will also be checked to verify your right to work in the country.
Do you need to feel nervous about background checks involving your identity and employment eligibility? No. As long as you were truthful on your application and don’t have any immigration issues, you don’t need to worry about this check.
Background Check Criminal Records Search
This is the most worrying part of the background check for many people, and with good reason.
A background check searches federal, state, and county databases to find out if you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, or if you have pending criminal cases. They’ll also search the sex offenders’ registry.
Some states limit how far a criminal record background search can go, but most states don’t impose a limit on the look-back period. That means that your entire adult history is an open book.
Should you be nervous about a background check criminal records search? Yes. If you’ve got a criminal record. Often, companies only want to know about convictions within the last 7 years, but they can go back as far as state law allows them to.
In some states, it’s possible to have a criminal record expunged. Expungement isn’t available for all offenses, and conditions need to be met.
When a record is expunged, the offense is no longer visible on background reports, so this is something to look into in the future if your state doesn’t set background check limits.
Ask for a free consultation with an expungement lawyer in your state to find out if you’re eligible.
Your Employment History
A background check may include employment history verification to make sure you held the positions specified on your application or resume.
Employers may only be interested in the last 5-7 years, or they may want to check further back.
Usually, there’s no need to be nervous about background check employment history verification unless you provided false employment details.
Employment verification can be an issue if you’ve padded your resume with a position you never held, or if you omitted a job you left under unfavorable circumstances.
While it’s perfectly okay to leave irrelevant jobs off your resume, if a job application asks you to list every employer and position held over the last 10 years, it’s a good idea, to be honest.
When a prospective employer contacts a previous employer, the information passed on is generally limited to employment dates, positions held, and salary. If you aren’t using that employer as a reference, they won’t usually provide any further details.
Academic & Professional Qualifications.
If the position you applied for specifies the need for specific academic or professional qualifications, then your employer will verify those qualifications by running this check.
There’s no reason to feel nervous about this background check if you’ve been honest about your qualifications.
Your Driving Record
Usually, the only reason a prospective employer wants to check your driving record is when the job involves driving.
By obtaining a copy of your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), employers can find out if you’re a safe driver or a potential liability. If the position you’ve applied for doesn’t involve any driving, then this check is unlikely to take place.
When should you be nervous about background checks involving your driving record? An employer can look at your MVR covering a period of 3 to 10 years depending on state law.
They’ll be concerned if they find a DUI, a citation for dangerous driving, or multiple speeding or traffic offenses.
Your Social Media Activity
It’s no secret that some employers look through candidates’ social media accounts for posts that show a misalignment of values.
Unlike other aspects of a background check, your social media activity is one area you have complete control over, so there’s no reason to be worried about background checks finding inappropriate photos or opinions.
The first thing you should do is set all of your social media accounts to private or friends only. Then search each account and remove any posts with problematic content. Limit who can see the accounts you follow. Set that function to private or friends only.
Once you’re certain you’ve removed any damaging posts from your profiles, you can make your accounts public again.
You could, of course, leave accounts set to private, but that could be a red flag to an employer that you’re trying to hide something.
Background Check Credit History
A credit history check isn’t often part of a standard background check, but an employer can request this check if they want to make sure that you’re a financially responsible person.
Usually, employers request a credit check for positions that involve handling money or company finances. A credit report will show your open lines of credit and current balances, late and missed payments, defaults and collections, student loans, auto loans, foreclosures, and bankruptcies.
Employers won’t be able to see your credit score, though.
Should you be nervous about background check credit reports? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows employers to look at the last 7 years of their credit history, although bankruptcies can be reported for 10 years.
A late payment here and there shouldn’t cause you any problems.
What To Do Next When Nervous About Background Check?
If your background check is already in progress, go through your social media accounts and, if necessary, clean them up.
Find out how in-depth and how far back the employer’s background check will go. If you’ve got an offense from 10 years ago and the background check only goes back 7 years, you’ll save yourself a lot of worries.
If you’re denied employment because of the information reported on your background check, the employer must send you a pre-adverse action notice.
This notice will tell you how to get a free copy of your background report so you can check it for errors. The background report will show you all the adverse information found on your record.
Depending on the employer’s policy, you may have an opportunity to explain the issues on your background report and make a case for why they should hire you.
And finally, instead of feeling nervous about your background report, get busy and apply for more jobs. Employers have varying background check policies and just because one employer rejects you after a background check, it doesn’t mean that other employers will do the same.
Robert Eric (a lover of Cats and Dogs) is the co-founder of HireFelonsJobs. In our search for a better life, after… A platform was created for the purpose of easing the search for ex-convicts.