A background check is a thorough look into a job applicant’s past that can help a company decide if the potential hire is worth their investment. This screening can provide a plethora of information, including your previous employment, education, or criminal histories. This data is then compared to your resume for accuracy and to the job requirements for compatibility.
What can legally be included?
A criminal background check is a common part of these screenings; however, not all past crimes can be legally considered in a hiring decision. For example, in the state of Georgia, if criminal charges against a person are dropped or dismissed, then the record cannot legally be used by the potential employer in a hiring decision.
When employment verification is conducted, your previous supervisors may be contacted. During this exchange, your potential employer can legally ask if you worked there and if you would be eligible for rehire. Additionally, if the previous employer chooses to answer further questions, that information can be considered.
Besides verifying the information on your resume and looking into your criminal background, any public information that is easily available can be included in the background check. Look yourself up on the Internet; if you don’t want a potential employer to see your social media photographs, you can try restricting your information by bumping up your privacy settings.
What should I do if I’m caught?
A recent study found that 58% of hiring managers polled have found a lie on a resume, ranging from a blatant misrepresentation to a minor tall tale. If something less than desirable is found on your application, be it a fib in your information or an unfortunate situation from your past, it is best to be honest about the situation rather than continue the lie.
While a resume misrepresentation can eliminate you as a candidate, it is not a definite disqualification and a clear explanation can help repair your reputation. You can share examples of how you’ve learned, changed, or grown from an experience rather than trying to blame others or minimize the situation.
How to prepare yourself for a background check
You can run a criminal check on yourself as well as view your driving record and credit score on the Internet to see what information is available. This will give you time to contact courts and correct any mistakes if necessary. It will also arm you with the knowledge needed to explain any errors or mishaps in your past.
It is important to note, however, that online searches may be incomplete or unavailable to the public. Even if you do run a check on yourself before a company does, they may still uncover information about you that never showed up on an online search. Make sure you are prepared to contact courts to fix your information if necessary.
InfoMart offers a free service called Applicant Advocate that can help you dispute false information on background checks we’ve conducted if you’ve been denied employment. Applicant Advocates provide a free copy of the same background report we sent your potential employers and arm you with the information you need to fix your record.