What is a Background Check for a Job?


What is a Background Check for a Job?

A recent study says up to ninety-six percent of hirers require background checks – whether for pre-employment, on-the-job, or promotion screening. Background checks are usually run by employers to see what the records reveal about employees’ past.

Although background checks report a range of offenses, employers – and landlord/estate managers – give bulk attention to crime and credit stories.

Why Do Companies Run Background Checks?

Why Do Companies Run Background Checks?

Stats say about ninety-five percent of job applicants have applied with falsified contents on their resume. Again, an estimated one-third of businesses will face legal confrontations caused by employment-related issues.

These and many other alarming figures make companies run background checks on applicants before they hire. That said, employers have individual reasons for their background checks. If, for instance, the position you seek requires government security clearances, a background check may be inevitable.

Also, for offices relating to accounting and financial, digging up your credit scores may be the most logical thing to do. Typically, companies run either – or both – pre-employment and on-the-job background investigation.

Recommended: How to Run Background Check on Myself

What’s included in a background check?

Here are contents of a typical background check:

  • Crime

A background check reports an applicant’s criminal history. This is important for jobs related to security and trust. The report may capture both county and national criminal records.

  • Social Security Validation

Checks may seek to verify one’s Social Security Number and all names, aliases, D.O.B, residency address, and other deets captured in the SSN. Where an applicant isn’t transparent about their aliases and addresses the background check exposes them.

  • Address History Check

This helps to trace an applicant’s historical addresses. Knowing candidates’ addresses helps eases investigation processes.

  • U.S Terror Watchlist

Many background checks aim to check if an applicant is on the United States’ terror watch list. This is particular for security positions.

  • Sex Offenses

Background checks look back into applicants’ sex offenses. Most employers desire this report for jobs that demands trust and direct interaction with customers.

What is a Background Check for a Job?

What is a Background Check for a Job?

Before a background check or a consumer report – as defined by FCRA -, a prospective hirer informs applicants of their intention to run a check, in writing. An applicant must give written authorization before the process commences.

Where an employer merely wants to make personal inquiries – and not obtaining one’s past through a third-party company – your consent may not be necessary.

For instance, your new employer may talk with your former landlord without asking for your consent.

In the event a company turns down an applicant for their background check report, they’d issue a document – Pre-adverse action disclosure. The document contains a copy of the background report and an explanation of applicants’ rights.

Afterward, you’d receive an “adverse action notice” explaining why you got turned down as well as the criteria applied in their judgment. The document also contains your right to take legal actions if not satisfied with the report.

Preparing for your background check

Since most employers dig deep into your past, here are some things to increase your chances:

Prune your social media accounts

In recent times, most hiring managers check up applicants’ social media profiles. So, if there are posts you wouldn’t want your employees to dig out, you may have to take them down or manage what people can view and what they can’t on your profile/timeline.

Maintain food academic and employment history

Gather papers and/or digital versions of your diplomas and transcripts. Pay stubs and related records that tell your work history may come handy.

Hold on to past employees’ contact information and references. These will help with the most accurate information while filling out your application form.

Keep copies of your records

You may need to get ahead of your employer’s history check with a self-background check. This self-check helps you run a personal investigation before your employers do.

For instance, some financial services offer a free credit score report. Also, you can request your driving records from the Motor Vehicle Department. For access to records of your offense, discuss with your jurisdiction of the Department of Public Safety.

SO, you may complete a personal background check even before you start your job search. This way, you can spot and correct errors before potential employers run their search.

Be Honest

If some things on your background check may negatively affect you, we recommend that you discuss it with your potential hirer. If you need to specify what’s on your records while filling out your application form, be honest.

Although every company has its unique employment policies, some may be considerate if you come out plain about your past

Inform your references

Your references may be contacted before being considered for hire. Ensure you pre-inform your references. Your potential employer may wish to verify your work profile with your former hirers.

An Applicant’s Right

An applicant can dispute a background check report. This may compel the screening agent to redo the process, giving special attention to the area(s) that inspired the adverse action.

But where all standards are met, an employer reserves the right to formulate an employment decision – perhaps disqualify an applicant – as long as they are FCRA compliant.

Will an arrest show up on my background check?

It depends. Whether or not your background check captures arrests varies across states. Some states prohibit employers from exposing their arrest details to employees. Such states forbid the employers the right to make hiring decisions based on mere arrest – without a conviction.

Do seal or expunged records show up in my Background?

No. Successfully expunged or sealed records no longer appear –in any form – on the background check report. Expunged records are literally deleted from public reach.

Would traffic infractions show on my background check?

Simple tickets do not appear on one’s criminal background check. Traffic tickets are considered civil citation – meaning, it is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor.

Some severe driving offenses like Dui and reckless driving may appear in your background check report since they are considered felonies and misdemeanors.

How many years back can an employer check for?

How back a background check can stretch varies across states – no federal stipulation on this. However, the 7-year limitation is most common across states.


A background check refers to the collection and investigation of an individuals’ private and public records.

Medical, driving, employment, credit, criminal, education, and social media profile records are typical contents of a background report.

The nature of the position applicants seek, to a large extent, determines what content appeals to employers.

Employers have a preference for particular reports based on their individual needs, the job description and the company location

Background checks come in different formats. Cities and states, however, have different legislation on background checks.