As a job seeker, you should be prepared for the fact that your possible future employer will most probably do a background on you before making you an offer. Many candidates take this quite lightly and might think that since they don´t have a criminal record, they are fine. However, checking an applicant´s criminal background is just one thing that employers tend to do. These days background checks consist of so much more and they can seriously harm your job chances.
Here´s what background checks will most likely consist of:
- Criminal background check
A first step will almost always be a standard criminal background check where the prospective employer will check if you have any criminal records behind your name. But again, looking for criminal records is usually just the start and most employers don´t leave it at this.
- Previous employers
Contacting previous employers is quite basic. Normally you might be requested to provide some references at previous employers that can be contacted for a background check, however, it might not end there. Even though there might be some employers you don´t really want to be contacted by your prospective employers, the fact that they are on your resume make them approachable for background checks. And even companies that don´t exist anymore, are not automatically safe here. So even if your previous company went bust, if they really want to contact them, it is possible. Prospective employers don´t always just stick to the references you provide them with.
The same goes for your studies, in today´s digital environment everyone can check with universities or schools whether you actually went there and if so, whether you were indeed class president, an honors student or leading the school newspaper. Former teachers, headmasters and assistants can all be reached, even if they are not working there anymore, so be aware of that.
- Social media and online
This one might seem obvious but your online behavior can really hurt your job chances. So, even though they are not considered official background grounds, this kind of informal background checks might actually be the most damaging for your job search. You better think twice about what you post on your social profiles because once it´s online, it won´t go away that easily. No matter how innocent it seems, you should really consider what you´re posting on Facebook or Instagram or what you “like” online because it might give the wrong impression to your future employers. When thinking about the social media and online part of background checks and seeing how they might hurt your job chances, the first thing you should always do is putting your name in a search engine and seeing what comes up. Review what appears and decide how damaging it might be before making a plan of action.
- Various checks dependent on the job
Apart from these general checks, there might more specific checks dependent on the type of job you´re applying for. For example, if the job you´re applying for involves a lot of driving, your prospective employer might check whether you have a lot of traffic fines or have caused any accidents. Or, if the job you´re applying for involves financial data or accounting, they might check your own financial data to see how you´re managing personally. Jobs involving working with children or minors, might have an extra check in the sex offender record etc. Therefore, never just count on a “standard background check” because there might be some job-specific additional checks that could influence the chances of you getting the job.
These are just examples of possible background checks that a prospective employer can conduct to see if they will make you the offer or not. What other examples of background checks have you experienced? We would love to read about it in the comments section.