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What are Background Checks for Employment?

What are Background Checks for Employment?
February 12, 2023

Background checks for employment are a common practice in which an employer verifies the information provided by a job candidate, including education, past employment, criminal history, and other relevant details. 


This process helps the employer to make informed decisions about hiring, determine if a candidate is a good fit for the job, and assess the candidate's risk for the organization. 


Background checks may be conducted through various methods, including online searches, database searches, and verification with past employers, schools, or government agencies.


What is the Process of an Employment Background Check?


The process of an employment background check typically involves the following steps:


Consent: Before a background check can be conducted, the job candidate must provide written consent for the employer to conduct the check. This consent typically occurs as part of the job application process, and the candidate must sign a release form allowing the employer to access the candidate's background information.


Data Collection: The employer collects information from a variety of sources, including previous employers, educational institutions, criminal databases, and credit bureaus. The employer may also use specialized background check companies that provide access to a variety of databases and information sources.


Verification: Once the information is collected, the employer verifies the information to ensure its accuracy. This may include contacting previous employers to confirm employment dates and job duties, checking criminal databases for any criminal history, and verifying the candidate's educational history.


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Evaluation: The employer evaluates the information collected to determine if it raises any concerns or contradicts information provided by the candidate. For example, if the candidate claims to have a degree from a certain university, but the university's records do not show that the degree was awarded, this could raise concerns.


Report Generation: Based on the information collected, the employer generates a report summarizing the findings of the background check. This report typically includes information about the candidate's employment history, educational background, and any criminal history.


Review and Decision Making: The employer reviews the report and decides whether to offer employment to the candidate, based on the information disclosed in the report and any applicable employment laws and regulations. For example, if the candidate has a criminal history that is relevant to the job being applied for, the employer may choose not to offer employment.


It's important to note that the specific information that is included in a background check can vary depending on the employer's policies and the laws and regulations that apply to the employer's business. Additionally, the background check process may differ for different types of jobs, with some jobs requiring more extensive checks than others.


What Is Included in an Employment Background Check?


An employment background check typically includes verification of an individual's:


Identity and work authorization: This involves verifying the candidate's identity and ensuring they are legally authorized to work in the country. This may include checking government-issued identification documents and the Social Security Number (SSN).


Education and employment history: The background check may verify the candidate's previous employment and educational history, including dates of employment, job titles, and responsibilities. This may include contacting previous employers to verify the information provided by the candidate.


Criminal records: This may include a search of local, state, and national criminal databases to check for any criminal history. However, the use of criminal records in background checks is often restricted by law and may also be subject to the candidate's consent.


Driving records: For positions that require driving, the background check may include a check of the candidate's driving history, including any driving violations, license suspensions, or accidents.


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Professional license verifications: For positions that require a specific professional license, the background check may include verifying the validity of the license and checking for any disciplinary action taken against the license holder.


Drug test results: Some companies may choose to include drug testing as part of the employment background check process. This can include pre-employment drug tests, random drug tests, or reasonable suspicion drug tests.


The specific items included in an employment background check can vary depending on the company, position, and jurisdiction. Some information may also be restricted by law, and the candidate must provide their consent for the background check to be performed.


How Should I Prepare for a Background Check for Employment?


To prepare for an employment background check, consider the following steps:


Review your personal information: Check your resume, job application, and other personal records to ensure the information you have provided to the potential employer is accurate and up-to-date.


Gather supporting documents: Collect any relevant documents that may support the information you have provided, such as diplomas, certificates, or transcripts.


Check your criminal record: You may request a copy of your criminal record from the relevant law enforcement agency. Review it for accuracy and report any inaccuracies to the appropriate authorities.


Be transparent: If you have any past criminal convictions, traffic violations, or other relevant incidents, it's important to be transparent about them with your potential employer.


Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state and the country that regulate employment background checks. This will help you understand what information can and cannot be included in a background check and what your rights are as a job candidate.


Provide consent: If you are asked to consent to a background check, be sure to understand the scope of the check and what information will be included. You have the right to refuse consent, but keep in mind that this may impact your ability to get the job.


By following these steps, you can help ensure that the information included in your employment background check is accurate and up-to-date, and you can be better prepared to address any issues that may arise during the process.


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Does An Employment Background Check Affect My Chances of Getting Hired?


An employment background check can affect an individual's chances of getting hired, but it depends on the specific information that is revealed in the check. 


For example, if the background check verifies the candidate's qualifications, education, and employment history, it may enhance their chances of getting hired. 


However, if the background check reveals negative information such as criminal convictions, driving violations, or discrepancies in the information provided, it may negatively impact their chances of getting the job.


However, you should note that background checks are just one of many factors that employers consider when making hiring decisions.


Other factors, such as an individual's qualifications, work experience, references, and performance in the interview process, may also play a role in the hiring decision.


It is also important to remember that the use of criminal records in background checks is often restricted by law and may also be subject to the candidate's consent. 


Employers must follow the rules and regulations set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting background checks and using the information obtained during the process.

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