What Should You Know About Employment Background Checks?
When you look at job postings, it is certain that you have seen many that contain a notice stating that the job is contingent upon completion of a successful background check. However, you may not know why these checks are performed or what they are looking for. Well, to start with, these checks generally include a look at an employee’s credit history, criminal history, and in some cases, even social media. These checks are not without limits, however, and both the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and many local and state regulations detail how these checks may be performed and used.
Why Do Employers Use Background Checks?
Employers use background checks to limit the risk of hiring new employees. By performing checks on an applicant’s credit, criminal, and social media history, they can determine if there are any clear warning signs before hiring an individual. Again, this is regulated by many government agencies, and no employer may discriminate against an individual based on any protected characteristics.
However, by checking an individual’s credit, an employer can see if an applicant has struggled with financial responsibility and therefore may not have the judgment and responsibility for some positions, particularly those that involve handling an organization’s finances. Many organizations fear that an individual with poor financial responsibility may even choose to steal or embezzle assets and prefer to limit their risk.
Criminal Checks similarly give an employer an idea of what to expect from an applicant based on their past behavior. However, unlike what you might have seen on TV, there are no perfect central databases of criminal behavior. Instead, background screening services will often require investigators to go in person to courthouses and check the records on file. Generally, the scope of the investigation and the cost will depend on what the employer chooses. In most cases, at least the investigation will give a look at records in the applicant’s last seven years of address history.
What Are Your Rights?
Now that you know why employers are running these checks, you may wonder what your rights are. First of all, you generally need to give the employer signed permission to perform the background check. Next, if the employer declines to offer the job based on any part of the background check, you have the right to request a copy of the particular background check. Then if any part of it is incorrect, you can contact the specific screening agency that performed the check in order to have the information corrected.
However, another option that has only recently become possible is to have a background check performed on yourself. This can allow you to see the information that will be on it before any employer does and correct any incorrect information before it damages your job prospects. This way, you can give yourself the best chances of scoring a position armed with the knowledge of what an employer will see.