What Shows Up On a Background Check for Employment?

Employer Running a Background Check

Employers have been running various forms of background checks on prospective employees for years, and during that time, millions of people have worried what potential employers would find out about them. The good news is that employers won’t find anything in your background check that you don’t already know about. The bad news is that if there’s something in your work, education or criminal records that you’d rather hide, that’s probably not going to happen.

Employment background checks are some of the most comprehensive background checks available. They are done so that an employer can evaluate your ‘fitness’ for the position you’re apply for  and to identify any ‘red flags’ that would automatically disqualify you from consideration.

When companies run background checks, they often look into a prospective candidate’s financial, educational and criminal histories as well as other public records. Depending on the position you’re applying for, not all of those records will be pertinent. However, the more ‘sensitive’ the job is, the more your background will be scrutinized.

In other words, the more high profile or professional the position, the cleaner your record needs to be because your past can have a direct impact on your ability to land a job.

The Information in a Background Check

Employment background checks contain a considerable amount of information regarding your past. Below is an explanation of what you can expect to find in an employment background check.

Educational Records

Employment background checks often include your education history. This section of the report may include some or all of the following:

  • Degrees awarded
  • Certifications awarded
  • GPA
  • Dates of enrollment
  • Graduation date
  • Majors
  • Honors
  • The names of any and all institutions you attended

Criminal and Civil Court History

Criminal background checks were the original pre-employment background check and are still used today to weed out job candidates. This section of the report will include information pertaining to:

  • Felony, misdemeanor and other convictions
  • Outstanding wants and warrants
  • Civil court proceedings such as lawsuits or child support motions

Sex Offender Registry Database Checks

  • Indicates if the applicant has ever been convicted of a sex crime or is registered as a sex offender in local or national databases

Employment History

An employment history check is included in a pre-employment background check. This typically includes:

  • Previous jobs held
  • Titles held at previous jobs
  • Dates of employment
  • Reasons for leaving
  • Salary
  • Rehire eligibility

Social Security Number Check

A background check will also include a social security number check. This is so the employer can verify that you are who you say you are. This portion of the background check will include things such as:

  • Your date of birth
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Contact details
  • The date your social security number was issued
  • If your social security number is valid
  • The location where the social security number was issued

Other Items

On occasion, employment background checks will include other information, such as credit checks or property record checks. Whether these additional checks are included is determined by the position you are applying for and whether or not the information contained in these records is pertinent to the position.

Authorization Required for Background Check

It’s important to mention that an employee must give an employer prior written authorization before a background check can be conducted. If an employer runs a background check without obtaining that authorization, they are opening themselves up to a lawsuit.

As a potential employee, you already know what’s in your history. It’s best to be upfront and honest about your past work, education, criminal and other histories when applying for a new position. Aside from weeding out applicants whose criminal history would prevent them from working in certain industries, pre-employment background checks are primarily a way for employers to uncover discrepancies between what you have told them and what the truth is. They are, in effect, a way for the hiring company to verify your trustworthiness. Even if there are things in your past that embarrass you and that you would rather forget, your best option is to be upfront about them from the beginning. Today’s background checks are exceedingly thorough and it’s likely that the employer will find out any discrepancies anyway.

Worried about what employers might see when doing a background check? Learn more about running a background check on yourself and how it can help prevent any unpleasant surprises. 

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