If you’ve applied for a job recently, or gone in for an employment interview, then you’ve probably been asked to consent to a routine background check. In many ways, pre-employment background checks are becoming as important to hiring managers as your resume, application, and interview responses.
Although the background check has become a pivotal component of the hiring process, many job hunters still have countless misconceptions about what background checks are and how they work.
Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions that you should get out of your head before your next job interview.
1. Background checks are solely looking for criminal history.
When consenting to a pre-employment screening, many applicants simply equate “background check” with “criminal background check.” While employers will check your criminal history, that’s not the only thing they are going to look at. Depending on the employer, a background check might also pull up your credit history, your driving record, your civil history, and more. Employers will also take the time to verify your educational background, your job history, and any professional licenses or certifications you may have. Some background checks even include a drug test.
2. I can control the narrative of my background check with great references.
The list of professional references you hand over at a job interview can certainly help your employment chances, but reference checks are merely one small part of employment background screenings. Just because your references praise you to the moon and back, that doesn’t mean your prospective employer is going to skip the rest of the check. They’ll still pull up your criminal history, credit history, and more.
3. Employers won’t find out if I lie about job titles, salaries, or employment dates.
Embellishing a resume is such a common thing that many job searchers feel like they have to do it to compete in a crowded job market. This is a misconception itself. Part of your background check includes employment verification, where your prospective employer will contact the human resources department at your old job and ask about your job title, your employment dates, and your salary. Lying about any of these things, therefore, is a good way to get flagged as a liar.
4. An applicant is powerless to fight back against background check findings.
False. If you are ever disqualified from employment consideration based on background check findings, you have a legal right to find out why. Your employer is required to provide you with a copy of the background check that led to your disqualification, as well as to inform you in writing of the decision. While this information usually won’t help you get the job, it will alert you about any false information that is coming up on your background check, so that you can fix it before your next interview.
5. There are plenty of employers out there who don’t want background checks.
This statement might have been true 10 or 20 years ago, but today, it’s 100% false. With the job market as crowded as its ever been, and with employers becoming more conscious of threats and lawsuits, you’d be hard-pressed to find any employer these days that doesn’t require a background check.
Don’t miss out on your dream job because you don’t understand how employment background checks work.