Employment Background Checks: What You Should Know

You’re probably already aware that employers who are considering hiring you will conduct some kind of background check on you. What you might not know–and probably should–is what the trends are in this regard and how/if they could apply to you. As the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.”

5 of the Top Ten Trends in Employment Background Checks for 2012

According to an article by Lester S. Rosen, Attorney at Law and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, the following are 5 of the top 10 employment background checks, which I’m showing with just a brief snippet of related information (for the full story and the other 5 trends, read the entire article):

  1. Criminal Background Checks of Job Applicants by Employers Coming Under Greater Scrutiny by EEOC: Apparently, 9 out of 10 employers conduct these checks on some or all job candidates, and employers’ use of criminal records is “under fire now more than ever.”
  2. Credit Report Background Checks of Job Applicants by Employers Increasingly Regulated by State Law: Seven US states (including my home state of California) already have laws impacting how employers conduct background checks–specifically, limiting use of credit report checks for employment purposes; and other states, as well as the EEOC, are thinking about putting on even more restrictions.
  3. Social Media Background Screening Checks of Job Applicants Becoming More Prevalent and More Controversial: “Employers and recruiters have discovered a treasure trove of information about potential job applicants on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter….” However, the use of background checks in that area is controversial and might involve legal risks to the companies that engage in it. For companies, it might be a case of darned if you do, darned if you don’t.
  4. Automation in Employment Background Screening Leads to Both Increased Efficiency and Increased Risks: It appears that employers and background screeners face challenges with regard to use of “unfiltered information going directly to employers from criminal database or inaccurate information obtained by ‘screen scraping or automated robotic searches.'”
  5. Self Background Checks Proactively Conducted by Job Seekers to Help Verify Accuracy of Their Public Information: Savvy job seekers will conduct their own background checks on themselves to make sure their public information is accurate before prospective employers do it for employment-related purposes.

How Do You Check Your Public Information?

One resource you might want to consult is a reference-checking service that can also perform other kinds of checks. One service I’m aware of is Allison & Taylor, which provides job reference checking, employment verification, and employee background checks. If you research “background checking services” or a similar phrase, you could come up with several possibilities. These services involve a fee, of course, so you might benefit from checking both their reputation and their fees to find the best resource for your situation.

Note that this isn’t exactly the same as investigating to find out what has been published about you online, although both activities have a similar purpose: enabling you to pursue and land your next new job without tripping over bad information on the way.

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2 Comments on “Employment Background Checks: What You Should Know”

  1. Reya Stevens says:

    Great topic, Georgia. We don’t talk about this enough in the careers industry. Thanks!

    • I agree, Reya. It’s kind of like the 800-lb. gorilla in the room that most people try to ignore! Of course, that’s a very general statement–I’m sure a lot of careers professionals are aware of the issues, but I’m not sure how many job seekers are. The entire article was definitely thought-provoking for me, that’s for sure.


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