The Employment
Background Search

The employment background search will include a number of checks. Find out what the employer is looking for when conducting a background check for employment and know what to expect.

Usually an employment background check or consumer report will investigate criminal records including driving records. Increasingly employers are checking credit records too as they consider this to be an indication of a candidate's reliability and responsibility.

Employers may also verify a candidate's education and qualifications when doing employment history background checks as these are sometimes misrepresented on a resume.

What must the employer do before conducting an employment background search?

  • The employer is required to notify the candidate in writing that they want to conduct an employment background check and get a consumer report on them. The candidate must give written consent.
  • A candidate can refuse but this will usually be interpreted negatively by a possible employer and may cost the job offer.
  • An employer is obliged to disclose the contents of the pre-employment background check to the candidate who may dispute the findings if they think they are inaccurate.

What to expect from a credit report?

  • A copy of  the candidate's credit report is often included in an employment background search. A modified version of the credit report is often called an "employment report" and includes details of credit-payment history and other credit-related characteristics.
  • A standard credit report also includes a credit score for the candidate. In addition to the candidate's payment history a credit report usually includes details about the candidate's previous addresses and employers. This can be used to verify the accuracy of information given in the resume or application.
  • Find out the latest information about how to get a free copy of your credit report.

What to expect from a criminal check?

  • Criminal records kept by the court system are public records and are generally available to employers.
  • The only restriction given by the FCRA is that an arrest record that is over 7 years old cannot be included in an employment background search. However the FCRA gives no time restriction on an actual criminal conviction.
  • Employers may request court records from every jurisdiction where the candidate has lived. Typically employers use a consumer reporting agency to do the criminal check for them. Laws on checking criminal history vary from state to state.

What other public records can be included in an employment background check?

  • Information on bankruptcy, civil judgments or tax liens are also public records that may be part of the check.
  • Restrictions state that civil judgments and tax liens older than 7 years should not be reported and bankruptcy older than 10 years should not be reported.
  • It is illegal to discriminate against a candidate on the basis of having filed for bankruptcy. Laws on background checks vary from state to state.
  • School and education records are confidential and can only be released with the student's consent. Medical records can only be released with the candidate's authorization.
  • The employer is not allowed to ask questions about medical history and is only allowed to inquire about the candidate's ability to perform the job. Find out how to handle illegal interview questions you may be asked in the job interview.

The best way to manage the employment background search is to know what information an employer is likely to get. Be well prepared for anything that employment background check may come up with.

The employment screening process often includes a pre employment drug test. Find out more about this at employment drug screening

Find out about employment tests at pre-employment testing

Know the standard reference check questions asked by knowing what is included in the telephone reference check

Certain companies are permitted to use the employment polygraph. Find the answers to commonly asked questions about the use of polygraph examinations for employment purposes.

Job Interviews > Employment Checks > Employment background search tools

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