Most Job Applicants Forget This Tiny Detail… Background Checks

Last month, a friend of mine went to LA in search of her dream job.

She’s been sending applications for months but she hasn’t received a single job offer yet.

Finally, the interviewer she talked to last week calls. He offered her a job and a considerable raise compared to her last salary. There’s just one minor formality… they’re running a background check on her. Of course, the unspoken understanding is that the job offer could be rescinded if the results raise a red flag.

She panicked.

Who will they talk to?

What if one of the previous managers gives me a bad recommendation?

What if they see the huge loan I’m still paying?

Yes, she got the job. Unfortunately, she had to wait for the company to complete it, enduring three whole days of second-guessing and worrying.


Background Checks: The Tripwire of the Job Hunting Process

Most jobseekers think the most important part of the application is the resume, others think it’s the interview. Yes, these two can get your foot in the door but negative results from a background check can just as easily get you kicked out even before your first day on the job.

So what exactly constitutes a background check?

That depends on the job you’re applying for and where it’s located. According to a CareerBuilder’s survey of more than 2000 companies, 39% of them will use social media to check an applicant before extending a job offer. However, for jobs that require handling of sensitive and private information, an advanced check is often conducted.

As a potential employee, it might be a good idea to run a background check on yourself to see if any issues arise.  According to California state laws, background checks in Los Angelescould only be conducted with the applicant’s consent and it can only go up to 7 years back, enforced by the FCRA. It would also be a good idea to run a credit check on yourself as employers may also include that in any check before they offer you the job of your dreams.   There are numerous online credit check companies that provide this information direct to consumers.

The important thing to worry about is, how can you make sure your past won’t come back to bite you?

The easy solution is to do a background check on yourself. If you do it before a potential employer does, you’ll know exactly what they’d find.


You can use this information to plan accordingly:

Is the information correct? These checks are mostly conducted online, so it’s reasonable to expect that there might be inconsistencies in the reported information. If your search reveals a criminal record you never had, report the discrepancy to the proper authorities.

The results must tally with your resume. Some background checks automatically raise a red flag if the results don’t match the information entered, such as your highest educational attainment, job title or employment history.

Most employers will give you the benefit of the doubt if it’s just a minor discrepancy. But glaring differences, like claims for a managerial title, when you only worked as the manager’s assistant, will land your resume in the trash.

In the end, the only thing you can do is be honest. You did your best so the only thing you can do is stay motivated. In most cases, employers overlook minor problems they see on background checks in favor of the applicant’s job performance and qualifications.


Photo Credits: Michelle Hofstrand via Flickr Creative Commons






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