Like the reference check, the background check plays an important role in the hiring process, particularly in certain jobs, such as those involving handling money or working with children.Today, a majority of companies view the checks as a necessity, rather than an option. A thorough background check of a prospective employee protects employees, customers, partners, suppliers — just about anyone who does business with that company.

With the plethora of cases related to employee theft, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, dishonesty, and fraud, a background check can protect a company from becoming liable or accountable as a result of hiring an employee that has these types of predispositions or tendencies — and acts upon them.

What do employers check

In many cases, such checks are used to verify things like:

  • Degree Status
  • Credit History
  • Criminal History
  • Employment Dates
  • College Attendance
  • Driving Records
  • Professional Licenses or Certifications

While some businesses do allow candidates the opportunity to address issues that may arise in the course of a credit check, 13% of employers do not allow job candidates to explain their credit or background reports at any time. Employers that use a 3rd party for a background check on a job applicant are legally covered. This means that an employer must get the job applicant’s permission in writing prior to conducting a background check. Another legality to be aware of is your right to know if something revealed in your background check is the reason you are passed over for a job. There are, however, things that employers can and cannot use as reasons to reject job candidates. Make sure you aren’t illegally removed from consideration.

When do employers run background checks?

  • Before the offer — 43%
  • After the offer — 39 percent
  • After pre-qualifying job candidate — 14%
  • Before job start date — 5%

As far as the credit check, 57% of those who order credit checks do not do so until after making a contingent job offer. An additional 30% of companies check backgrounds after the interview is complete but before making an official offer.

Challenges encountered

The key to dealing with background check challenges is to be proactive rather than allowing the check results to derail your efforts to land the job you want, or worse, to catch you off guard and completely unaware.

Challenge 1: You’re unsure what will come up in your credit check.

Overcoming it: If you have credit history issues, try to clean it up or dispute it if there are errors. You can check your credit with each of three main credit reporting agencies. Knowing what’s in your credit report can help you plan ahead and get in front of potential problems in the interview process. Turn past mistakes around, for instance, and let your interviewer know how you’re making efforts to correct those mistakes and the valuable lessons you’ve learned in the process.

Keep in mind that it takes time to see positive changes on your credit report – address the issues now and avoid problems in the future.

Challenge 2: You don’t know what a background check will reveal.

Overcoming it: Once again, the best thing you can do is find out for yourself what your background check has to say about you. One way to do this is to go to a site such as MyBackgroundCheck.com. Not only can you conduct your own background check, for a small fee, but you can also learn about various steps to clean up your background check.

Final Thoughts

From knowing how to answer the Why Should We Hire You? question to making your resume stand out, today’s job seeker faces enough challenges trying to get the job he or she really wants — or needs. Don’t let details, like references and background checks, derail your efforts to land your dream job. Instead, put our articles & recommendations to work for you and stay on top of your job search situation.