Many employers will require a background check before hiring, so when you are on the hunt for a new job, it is important to know what to expect and to be aware of any red flags that could be on your record. Being prepared for a background check is the first step you should take in your job search; that way, you are not caught off guard or held back by potential issues.
Depending on the job you are applying for, an employer may consider certain aspects of your past relevant. This past could include your credit, driving, or criminal record. While they may seem irrelevant, an employer may feel that these infractions attest to your character. That is why it is important to understand your background and how it relates to your employability.
There are different laws concerning credit checks by potential employers depending on your state, so make sure you are aware of these first. If your state allows employers to check credit reports, you will want to check yours first to ensure there are no errors.
You can obtain a copy of your credit report for any of the years you think are relevant for free from each major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). If there are any errors or information you do not believe is accurate, you can dispute it with the creditor to have it removed from your report.
If driving or having a license are requirements of the job, the employer will likely want to know that you have had a relatively clean driving record. You can get a copy of your record from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, and in some states, you can review it online at the DMV website. If you have any traffic violations or accidents in your driving history, you will want to be prepared to answer any questions at your interview.
In some states, employers are not allowed to ask questions about your arrest or convictions after a certain period, usually around ten years. In some states, an employer may only be allowed to review your criminal record for certain positions. Jobs in the financial sector or those involving children may require a criminal history from its employees to ensure that a potential employee is not a risk. If you have a criminal record, it is important to be aware of the laws in your state.
In many cases, employers will conduct a drug screening on their job candidates. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that around 90% of employers will require drug testing for applicants they are looking to hire. Although the legal statutes vary from state to state, the process is generally the same for similar jobs regardless of location. Understanding how your results could impact an employer’s decision to hire you is important.
A common misconception about the hiring process is that former employers must keep a certain level of discretion when discussing past employees. However, there are no federal laws restricting the kind of information an employer can disclose about someone. In order to be prepared for what someone is going to say about you, it is best to choose prior employers with whom you believe you had a good relationship. You can also ask for copies of your employment files.
Understanding the Laws
The most important part of preparing for the possibility of a background check is to know and understand your rights as an employee in your state. The laws allowing employers to obtain information about your past vary from state to state, so the most vital step in your preparation is knowing your rights. After you know what information could become available to a potential employer, you will be able to prepare to the best of your ability for any questions they may have.
Veronica Davis is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area. She writes for Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer Mosser Appeals.