Many employers now require a background check for new hires and even for promotions. There are several reasons why they may want this information. It could be that check is required by law for the particular position, because they have been involved in lawsuits over hiring practices, because of heightened security due to recent events, or because they were provided with false information by previous employees.
Some people are uncomfortable with someone investigating their background and personal history. Not necessarily because they have anything to hide, but simply because they realize that information could be incorrect or seen out of context, and that it could have a detrimental effect on their career.
The information in a background check can come from many places, including driving records, vehicle registration, credit records, criminal records, social security records, educational records, court records, workers’ compensation records, bankruptcy records, character references, neighbor interviews, medical records, property records, military records, state licensing records, drug tests, past employers, personal references, incarceration records, and the sex offender list. Also, employers more and more frequently check online, at social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook.
There are a few steps you can take to prepare yourself for a background check, and be sure that no surprises await you and your potential employer.
1. Get a copy of your credit report and be sure that everything on there is correct. Dispute any information that looks incorrect.
2. Be sure that any information contained in court records is correct, especially if you have an arrest records, or even just for divorce matter or other lawsuits.
3. Get a copy of your record from the Department of Motor Vehicles and be sure that any driving infractions or DUI convictions have been expunged. If they haven’t, be honest.
4. Check yourself out by hiring a company to do a background check on you. That way you can see what might be uncovered by a potential employer first hand. If you have had a background check performed on you previously, see if you can get a copy of that report as well.
5. If possible, get copies of documentation from your personnel file at your last job or jobs. This information cannot always be obtainable by law, but if it is, it might give you lots of info.
6. Carefully read any job application or consent forms that you sign. Be clear what you are allowing the potential employer to check out about you.
7. Make sure your neighbors, colleagues, friends and family know that they may have to answer questions about you. This way they know to expect it and will know that they have your permission to speak.
8. Google yourself. Be sure to check your name in the major search engines to see what you’ve been up to. Could anything you’ve posted be offensive to a potential employer? Remove it. Also, track down anywhere else it might be posted and request that site to remove the info as well.