It is normal to feel nervous about background check results, especially if the check may reveal unfavorable information.
But stressing out during the interview process isn’t helpful either…so there are three things that anyone can do immediately to ease their minds and ensure that the background check process goes smoothly.
Because failing a background check shouldn’t disqualify anyone from getting the employment they deserve, it’s important to take action before receiving the results of a background search.
Number 1. Review Standard Disqualifying Offenses for Background Checks
Employers conduct background checks for a number of reasons, and they look for specific disqualifying offenses. When feeling nervous about background check, first, understand what shows up on a background check, and then review and avoid the things that can disqualify a potential applicant, such as:
Inconsistencies in the Resume
The resume carries many types of details about an applicant, including schools attended, companies worked for, skill set, and references. During a background check, employers contact institutions and former employers to ascertain that the information listed is correct. Any instances of dishonesty and inconsistencies discovered may cause the employer to feel negative about the candidate. 1
Unsatisfying Credit History
Many executive and c-level positions require a credit background check, as well as those that are related to the financial industry. Employers often consider information such as loans paid on time, defaulted loans, tax liens and credit score.
Individuals interested in checking the status of their credit records can obtain a free report once a year from the US government.
Crimes Related to the Potential Position
In the spirit of maintaining a safe workplace, employers may choose to disregard an applicant if the applicant has recorded criminal activities related to the job. Under the law, employers can only fail a candidate in this manner if the crime is relevant to the job description. For instance, only candidates without a sexual offenders record can take up jobs that involve working with vulnerable populations, such as seniors.
Various rules govern what an employer can do with the records they obtain, and what amounts into a disqualifying crime record. Sometimes a candidate may fall out of favor if they lied about existing records instead of explaining them, even if the records themselves were not disqualifying under the law. However, there are high security clearance jobs that may automatically disqualify a candidate with a criminal record.
Bad Driving Record
Another issue that might cause an applicant to feel nervous about background check is a bad driving record or MVR report, particularly if the potential position involves transport.
Some common red flags include driving under influence of drugs, multiple cases of over-speeding, and convictions resulting from reckless driving.
Background Check that Reveals Frequent Change of Employer
Although the culture has shifted to a more transient job approach, the number of jobs held is still a consideration for many employers. A candidate who has worked at six different companies over the past year will be at a disadvantage.
One reason for this is that businesses spend a lot of money to hire, train and install a new employee. This cost ratio means that if a potential employee has a track record of leaving the job after a few months, the company may decide to pursue another candidate.
Omission of Relevant Experiences
Sometimes leaving out various job experiences is equally as bad as including made up jobs in a resume. The main reason why candidates choose to leave out various experiences is to ensure the employer only gets to see the best version of themselves.
If an employer finds out that a candidate hid a past job of particular interest, they may feel that the applicant wanted to hide it for fear that it might cause them to be sidelined. The truth is that leaving out negative experiences could be more harmful than including them and going ahead to explain them beforehand. 2
Questionable Social Media Activity
Employers use social media background checks, when allowed by state law, to gain insights into the character of a candidate outside the professional environment.
Many states protect applicants against various forms of discrimination that may result from viewing information like race and age as listed in profiles. However, sometimes a candidate’s social media presence may paint a negative picture. To feel less nervous, familiarize with job seekers rights under the EEOC.
Federal law requires that both citizens and non-citizens be eligible for work in the United States prior to applying for positions. The 1-9 form and E-Verify are used to ensure that an applicant is legally allowed to work in the U.S. and these protections also keep unscrupulous companies from hiring and exploiting illegal laborers.
Multiple and Long Duration of Unemployment
While it is normal for many resumes to show periods of unemployment, multiple unexplained breaks could indicate to an employer that the person is unhappy with their career or is simply unreliable.
Employers contact former employers to understand an applicant’s quality of performance, professionalism, skills, and even behavior outside of work premises. Multiple bad reports could indicate that the potential hire will be a bad fit for the existing team.
A candidate who is nervous about background check can feel better by contacting a former employer to see if they can mend their relationship before the prospective employer reaches out. 3
Number 2. Perform a Background Screening On Yourself (DIY or Using a Background Check Company)
When feeling nervous about background check results, doing one on yourself can be the best way to prepare. Not only does it provide peace of mind, a self background check also helps identify any inaccuracies or previous criminal records that can be erased.
DIY Employment Background Check
Doing a background check manually is possible because many records are public. Verifying references, education, and work history can be done by simply contacting these organizations and institutions, and then double checking to ensure that the resume is correct. For example:
- Call the listed work references and inquire about the nature of the working relationship including title, responsibilities, and key dates. Key dates include date of starting, date of ending employment, and dates of promotions if any.
- Contact schools attended and ask for copies of records and transcripts.
- Conduct a credit check to ensure all the details are in order. It is possible to acquire a free, annual credit report by accessing the designated government online platform or by calling the number (877) 322-8228.
Credit history checkers can also apply physically by downloading and completing the annual credit report request form and mailing it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
DIY Criminal Records Background Checks (Local)
Knowing how to check criminal records for mistakes is crucial. Most criminal records are public, available in various government law enforcement agencies and courts. To scan local records, the process involves online or manual requests.
Step 1. Navigate to State Police Department Website and State Court Clerk’s Office
To do this, simply google search the state name with the phrases “Police” or “Court Clerk.” While on the site, look for phrases to help, such as:
- Background Checks
- Criminal Records Requests
- Court Records Search
Follow the instructions provided by the specific state to access criminal records.
Many states have online databases available, which allow users to enter their personal information and receive a criminal history report. Some states charge a small processing fee for the service, which is usually under $20.
For instance, the court of appeal in Texas offers online access to records via the judicial branch website.
Step 2. Search Local County Clerk’s Office
The county where a person lives contains public records about births, deaths, marriage, land ownership, taxes and voting record. These records can be accessed online (for larger communities) or over the phone, generally by filling out standardized forms and submitting a processing fee.
National Criminal Record Check (FBI)
The FBI allows individuals to access their nationwide criminal records, which are the same records employers see in a Level 2 background check.
The requesting party needs to complete a signed cover letter and contact a fingerprinting agency to help complete the legal fingerprint form which involves capturing all 10 fingerprints either manually or using a digital service. The next step is to pay $18 in the form of a money order, certified check, or credit card paid to the Treasury of the United States.
All that remains is to mail the 3 documents, namely cover letter, fingerprint form, and proof of payment to the following address:
FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306
Free Background Check Options
Any person who does not have the time to do a background check manually can contact a reputable agency that offers a free seven day trial membership. The free background check will include both state and national criminal records, and allow applicants to see everything a potential employer will.
Working with a third party screening company is advantageous in many ways, including:
- They have the resources, experience, time, and know-how to conduct complete checks, including police custody searches.
- They can easily identify errors, eligibility for expungements, and advise accordingly.
- Quick results.
Review Background Check Results for Errors and Expunging Offenses
After completing the background check, it’s the perfect time to review the results to pinpoint errors and potential criminal records that are eligible for expungement.
Knowing how to remove certain criminal records from a background check is vital. Basically, an expungement process starts with obtaining supporting documents from the involved prosecutor’s office, court records, and any other bearers of supporting material. Once all the materials, including the application form, are ready, they should be presented to the court that handled the case so that the judge can evaluate the situation and give a verdict.
The expungement process usually involves paying a small fee, and may stretch as far as attending a court hearing. If the application goes through (as it can for many misdemeanors), the court issues an order of expungement, which the applicant should present to all relatable agencies, like the local department of corrections, who might have filed the case during its active period.
Keep in mind that each jurisdiction has its own procedure for evaluating and approving expungement applications.
Anyone confused about navigating the expungement process can seek professional guidance from a lawyer or an expert from a reputable background check company. 4
Number 3. Disclose Information that Will Appear on Employment Background Checks
Contrary to a viral misconception that a person with a criminal record cannot get a job, all American employers are not allowed to disregard an applicant’s application based on their negative criminal record, and this is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 2
However, employers have to protect their companies and existing employees against liabilities.
Honesty is the best path to follow, and many employers are felon friendly. Some ways to disclose information include:
- Explain any felonies or misdemeanors before a background check is conducted (some misdemeanors won’t make you fail a background check).
- Explain any arrest records or dropped or dismissed charges, which will appear on the criminal background check.
- Double check that all employment and education information is accurate.
- Be truthful about why previous positions were left, and explain the nature of any dismissals.
The most important thing is disclosing negative information upfront and expressing willingness to build a new, better relationship with the new employer.
Knowing what the employer will see when they conduct a background check for employment can help eliminate surprises and feeling nervous about background check results.