In today’s competitive job market, it is common for companies to conduct background checks on potential employees before hiring them. A background check is an investigation into a person’s past that can reveal details about their employment history, education, criminal record, and more. While background checks can be a valuable tool for employers to ensure they are hiring qualified and trustworthy individuals, it’s essential for job seekers to understand what information can be uncovered during this process.
One of the most common elements of a background check is an investigation into a person’s employment history. This includes verifying the accuracy of the information listed on a resume or job application, such as past employers, job titles, and dates of employment. Employers may also reach out to previous managers or colleagues to gather information about an applicant’s performance, work habits, and character.
Ferreting out the truth about a job applicant’s educational background is another component of employers’ background checks. An educational background check will confirm whether the facts listed on an application or CV are accurate, such as diplomas earned and institutions attended with corresponding dates for attendance. To validate this information, companies may also contact previous schools and universities to verify any degrees obtained or ask for transcripts to be sent over.
Perhaps the most well-known aspect of a background check is an investigation into a person’s criminal history. This includes searching public records for any past convictions or arrests. Depending on the nature of the job, certain types of criminal convictions may disqualify a person from consideration. For example, someone with a history of embezzlement may not be considered for a job in finance.
While not as common as employment history or criminal record checks, some employers may also investigate a person’s credit history as part of a background check. This includes reviewing a person’s credit report to look for any delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, or other financial issues. Employers may be interested in a person’s credit history if the job involves handling money or sensitive financial information.
Social Media Activity
In recent years, employers have increasingly turned to social media as a way to learn more about job candidates. A quick search of a person’s name on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can reveal a wealth of information about their interests, hobbies, and personal life. While some employers may view social media activity as a way to gauge a person’s fit with the company culture, others may use it as a way to screen out candidates who post controversial or offensive content.
For jobs that involve driving, such as delivery or trucking, employers may also investigate a person’s driving record as part of a background check. This includes searching public records for any past traffic violations, accidents, or license suspensions. Employers may be interested in a person’s driving record as a way to assess their risk of accidents or other driving-related incidents.
In some industries, such as healthcare or transportation, drug testing may be required as part of a background check. This involves testing a person’s urine, blood, or hair to detect the presence of illegal drugs or alcohol. Employers may be interested in a person’s drug history as a way to ensure that they are not at risk of impairing their ability to perform their job safely.
What Employers Cannot Check
While background checks can reveal a lot of information about a job candidate, there are some things that employers are not allowed to investigate. For example, it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, or disability. As a result, they cannot perform a background check about a person’s race or ethnicity, marital status, or medical history during a background check.
Additionally, there are certain types of information that are protected by privacy laws. For example, employers cannot access a person’s personal email or social media accounts without their consent. They also cannot access a person’s medical records or information about their mental health unless it is relevant to the job and the candidate has given their consent.
Furthermore, some states and cities have laws that limit the types of information that can be considered in a background check. For example, some states have “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application. Instead, they must wait until later in the hiring process to ask about any criminal convictions.
Protecting Your Privacy
If you are concerned about what a potential employer might find during a background check, there are steps you can take to protect your privacy.
- First, be honest and accurate in your job application materials. Falsifying information on a resume or job application can not only disqualify you from a job but may also result in legal consequences.
- Second, be mindful of what you post on social media. Consider adjusting your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts and avoid posting controversial or offensive content.
- Finally, know your rights. Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state regarding background checks and privacy protections. If you feel that an employer has violated your rights during a background check, consider speaking with an attorney.
In conclusion, background checks are a common tool used by employers to investigate a person’s past and gather information about their employment history, education, criminal record, credit history, social media activity, driving record, and drug use. While they can be valuable for employers to ensure they are hiring qualified and trustworthy individuals, it’s important for job seekers to understand what information can be uncovered during this process and to take steps to protect their privacy. By being honest and accurate in job application materials, being mindful of social media activity, and knowing your rights, you can help ensure that your background check doesn’t uncover anything that could jeopardize your chances of getting hired.