Today most employers conduct background checks on new employees. It’s simply part of the hiring process. Put yourself in their shoes; would you want to hire somebody that has been accused of assault with a deadly weapon? Background checks are really the only way they can make sure they’re not hiring a dangerous person.
That being said, you don’t need to have a skeleton in your closet to feel uncomfortable about a background check. Many people don’t like the idea of strangers digging around in their past or examining their credit report. There are a few steps you can take to feel more comfortable with the process.
When Is The Background Check Conducted?
In most cases a background check will not be conducted until a company is nearly ready to extend a job offer. The company may narrow the selection to two or three choices, run background checks on each of those individuals, and then perhaps make a final decision.
Background checks are usually performed by a third party, which means they cost money. Most companies don’t have it in their budgets to run checks on everyone who applies for a job, so they save the checks for the final step before hiring someone. Some may actually wait until they’ve made an offer before they run a background check.
Did You Give Them Permission?
If a company is utilizing a third party service to run a background check then they need your permission to do so. They’ll ask you to sign something. If you’re not asked to sign something it means they have an in house service or they’re not running a background check.
What If You Have Been Convicted Of A Crime?
If you have a scar on your record, all is not lost. In most cases an employer will take into account not only how old you were when the crime was committed but also the severity of the crime. For example, if you received a drunk driving conviction when you were in high school or college and you’re now 35 years old, the conviction may not have any impact on their hiring decision. However, if you received a drunk driving conviction last week it may impact their decision.
Consider Being Up Front
If there’s something on your record that you know employers are going to learn, you may want to tell them about it before they do the background check. It might make you look better in their eyes than if they’d learned about your record on their own.
What About Credit Checks?
The truth is that employers can check your credit when they’re conducting your background check. And with today’s tough economy it’s not hard to find folks with bad credit. It does often cost a company more to check your credit so many don’t bother unless you’re applying for a financial position within the company. Additionally, in most cases, bad credit doesn’t impact the hiring decision. The only time bad credit may affect the hiring decision is if it’s a serious situation, for example bankruptcy, and in those cases they may just ask you about the mar on your credit report and not necessarily use it against you.
One of the best ways to be prepared for your company background check is to do a background check on yourself beforehand. Grab your free annual credit report and review it for errors. If it’s relevant, search court records to read what’s documented about your past. And you can always Google yourself to see what comes up. Being prepared is the best way to be proactive about a background check. You’ll be able to preempt any questions and prepare your response.