Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Background Checks in Your Hiring Process

If you are searching for a job, then you should expect and be ready for a number of things. Of course, you already have your resume and cover letter outlines down. You know that you have to tweak both of them for each position you apply to also. You are fully prepared for the interviews since you are a Spark News reader, and you know what to expect. However, each company is different and some may want to perform a background check on you before they bring you on board. Some will want you to take a drug test, as well. Before you start to panic, though, take a look at what you should expect with a background check from an employer and be prepared so you are not surprised or shocked when the conversation comes up.

Some positions require you to submit to a background check and other companies just like to employ them because they are very useful. But exactly why do employers want you to submit to a background check? First off, employers like to be cautious. For one, there are a lot of unsatisfactory people in the world and companies want to be sure they aren’t hiring one. Being safe and secure is a smart move on the company’s side. If an employer hires someone that is dangerous, or potentially dangerous, and that employee ends up hurting another employee or customer, be it emotionally or physically, the blame can be placed on the employer. That can result in a big mess for the company and even expensive lawsuits. Furthermore, if you are looking for a position where you work with children a background check will definitely be issued.

Employers can’t take any risks when they are hiring employees that spend their days with other people’s children. Recent events and child abuse occurrences have forced employers to be very careful with who they hire. Another big reason many employers want to perform a background check is because there have been so many instances of resume fraud lately. With intense competition for open positions and a very high number of unemployed people in the country, it’s not difficult to imagine someone embellishing or completely lying on their resume. In order to be sure that these candidates are for real, employers choose to perform background checks.

These reasons may be relevant, but background checks still make employees and potential candidates a bit squirmish. The general consensus from employers is, “If you don’t have anything to hide, then you shouldn’t be nervous.” However, the idea of someone poking around your past would make anyone nervous, even if they are the most straight and arrow person out there. On top of that, background checks may unearth information about you that is irrelevant to the hiring process. That is why you need to know your rights and what can and cannot be used for employment purposes in the background check.

When employers do a background check, here is the information they can gather: Driving records, Vehicle registration, Credit records, Criminal records, Social Security no., Education records, Court records, Workers’ compensation, Bankruptcy, Character references, Neighbor interviews, Medical records, Property ownership, Military records, State licensing records, Drug test records, Past employers, Personal references, Incarceration records and Sex offender lists.

What cannot be in a background check differs from state to state greatly. Background checks that are not done in-house are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, background checks cannot report the following: Bankruptcies after 10 years. Civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest, from date of entry, after seven years. Paid tax liens after seven years. Accounts placed for collection after seven years. Any other negative information (except criminal convictions) after seven years. The catch here though is that if you are applying for jobs that earn $75,000 or more a year, then the above restrictions no longer apply.

If you think that your potential employer is going to perform a background check on you, or if you have already been asked to submit to one, make sure you know your rights. Of course, most people have nothing to hide and know that nothing negative in their check could deter the hiring. However, knowing what can and can’t be used against you is key. To get the specific details, especially a state breakdown of what is legal, visit the site for the Private Rights Clearinghouse. Furthermore, know that most employers don’t use these checks to expose you, but to rather cover their backs.

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter

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