Background Checks: How Far Back Do They Go?
You just finished your application and are about to permit a company to run a background check on you. However, do you know what kind of screening they are requesting? Is it only for your criminal history, or is there a credit check too? How far back will they go when looking into your background?
This last question is one of the most important to consider before agreeing to a pre-employment background check. Whether you apply as a volunteer or paid employee, knowing how much your potential new employer learns about your personal life is critical. The shared information will depend on the screenings used to verify your information and qualifications for the position.
Types of Background Checks and How Far Back They Can Go
As mentioned before, many different background checks produce varying results, reviewing different time lengths in your history. For example, the typical criminal screening often covers only seven years. However, if you apply for an industry that requires a specific security clearance, your employer may look further. In addition, many states have distinct rules and regulations that companies must comply with when running these checks. For example, one such law regulates how employers may use the acquired information when making a hiring decision.
Below are standard background checks that employers use to vet candidates and how far back they go into your history:
|Type of Screening||Length of History Covered|
|Pre-employment background check||Criminal history records go back seven years unless state laws or information being reviewed say otherwise|
|Bankruptcy||Up to 10 years of bankruptcy history|
|Credit history||7 – 10 years depending on what salary or state laws impact the position|
|Felonies||While some states impose 7 – 10 year limits, felonies usually reported for a lifetime|
|Misdemeanors||State laws affect the scope of time permitted for review, though some allow lifetime look backs|
|Motor vehicle records||Varies by state, but anywhere from 3 – 10 years|
|Professional license verification||Lifetime|
Your new company has an HR team with many screening tools to look into your past credit history, criminal record, and even previous addresses. With these tools, the company will know if you omit places you previously lived in, and hiding information, in general, could haunt you. Unfortunately, records may not always be perfect, and these tools do not know the difference between accurate and inaccurate. For example, you could lose a job opportunity because of a local court clerk’s mistake, which happens more often than expected. You deserve to know what your new employer will learn and ensure that the details are accurate.
How Far a Background Check Goes Back Shouldn’t Be Your Focus
Worrying about how far back the pre-employment screening goes instead of knowing what is available in their histories is a common mistake candidates make. The best solution for this dilemma is to take away the guesswork by running a self-background check through a service like My Background Check. This service allows you the opportunity to be proactive about any mistakes or questionable occurrences on your record in several ways, including:
Being Transparent About Your Personal History During Your Interview
Maybe you thought that DUI from 15 years ago isn’t an issue anymore because of how much time has passed, but if you apply to a commercial trucking company, they may find that DUI. Applying for a job requires honesty and a proactive approach when you have a criminal history record that may cause an employer concern. Knowing what they will see when screening your background helps you immediately address these issues and reassure the situation.
Dispute Costly Mistakes
To err is human, but on a background check, this can cost you a promising career. Inaccuracies happen all the time in recordkeeping, despite the advancement of technology. Common mistakes in your background check may include issues with similarities in your name and that of another person in local court databases. This issue frequently happens when records rely only on names instead of social security numbers or birthdate information.
Another frequent problem with a criminal record is the court clerk assigning the wrong code to it. This mistake can turn a misdemeanor into a felony, barring you from positions that require no felony offenses. These jobs include interacting with vulnerable individuals, requiring higher security levels, making significant financial decision-making, and more.
Finally, outside of jeopardizing your employment, incorrect record information could also signify something more serious: identity theft. Millions of Americans suffered consequences-legal and otherwise-as victims of identity theft. For example, you could find eviction information attributed to you because someone leased an apartment in your name or an unpaid loan issued to you on bogus information.
Be Better Prepared for Questions
Running reports on your history through My Background Check also means ensuring everything is legitimate information. In addition, knowing what to expect allows you to prepare for questions employers may have, like unexplained employment gaps, previous bankruptcies, or checkered credit history. While none of these issues are automatic disqualifiers, some companies see this as a testament to who you are as an individual.
Approaching these issues early on can help a potential new boss look past them and focus on the bigger picture of your potential benefit to the company. In addition, hiring managers appreciate those who take ownership of their mistakes and demonstrate what they’ve done to rectify them.
Take Control of Your Information and Run a Self Background Check Today
While there are limitations to how far back a background check can go, addressing inaccurate information and preventing it from damaging your chances when applying for jobs is crucial. To learn more about running a personal history screening on yourself and what organizations receive when checking your background, request a record search from My Background Check. We make this process straightforward by requiring only a few quick details to start.
When you place your order, we provide access to our Secure Candidate Experience platform, keeping you up-to-date on your request’s status. Our state-of-the-art software and intuitive portal will also send notices should we need further information to complete your background check. Once complete, you can view or print out your results in the private setting of your own home. Visit us today to learn more and discover how invaluable conducting a self-background check can be for your future goals.
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