5 things you need to know about background checks

by 08 Aug 2012

(TheNicheReport) -- In a globalised world where people move from one country to another in the blink of an eye, it is important for companies to ensure that the people who apply to work for them deserve their place and are not leaving companies open to suits for negligible hiring. This is why background checks form an essential part of the recruitment processes, as they are the only real way to ensure that the person you are considering hiring is of the required standing for the job. Here are 5 things that you should know about background checks, whether you’re the one performing them or whether they’re being performed on you.

1.   For many jobs, a background check is a legal requirement

If you’re planning to work with children, the disabled or the aged, then you should be aware that law in most parts of the US means that you will be required to undergo a background check. The reasoning is rather obvious: it is to ensure that those in touch with the most vulnerable are not people who will take advantage of their position

2.  After a certain amount of years, minor items will not show up in a background check

If you’re worried about passing a background check because of some youthful indiscretion, then your fears may not be necessary. Records of arrest and civil suits are cannot be shown after 7 years, and bankruptcies cannot be shown after 10. This means that those arrest records from when you were drunk and disorderly in college but later released aren’t going to affect your job chances.

On the other hand, criminal offenses are permanent unless you apply to get them expunged from your record. The law does vary on whether an employer can use the information against you, but the information is there for them to see.

3.  Employers and/or agencies must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act

An employer conducting a background check or the company they use must be FCRA certified, meaning that they must follow certain rules. This ensures that the information they search for is pertinent and used in a safe and responsible way.

The FCRA isn’t bulletproof and there are significant loopholes that can leave potential employees discriminated against. Be aware of your rights: it’s the only way to make sure you’re being treated fairly.

4.  A background check usually involves a credit check

Although incorporating a credit check was once uncommon, nowadays most companies who use background checks will also throw in a credit check. Even if your job involves little to no handling of money, a credit check is often used to gage how responsible you are - for better or worse. Depending on state laws, you will be notified beforehand and sometimes obtain your own copy afterwards. If you know a credit check will reflect badly on you, maybe now is the time to change that.

5.  Education records don’t show transcripts, but they do show degrees issued.

Many people think that they can get away with a little creative license when it comes to education parts of their resume because educational institutions are under obligation to protect their information. Although this is partly true, a background check will show up ‘directory’ information that includes dates of attendance, degrees, honours and awards. Usually that is enough to let employers know if you’ve been untruthful. Do yourself a favour and stick to the truth, instead of attempting to better yourself with lies.

All in all, background checks are part and parcel when it comes to finding jobs nowadays. Although you may feel that such inspections are unfair, the best thing to do is to try make sure you do nothing bad that will trigger alarms. Only then can you truly saw you can apply for a job and be judged on your merits, not your mistakes.

This guest post by author Endre Rex-Kiss, an online marketing, social media and human resource specialist. He’s currnently blogging on behalf of RentPrep, a US based agency providing tenant checks and resident screening services. Follow his occasional rants on Twitter (@erexkiss).


Should CFPB have more supervision over credit agencies?