Discovering Yourself: A Background Check's Effects on the Job Hunt

By Kenneth Coats

Imagine the worst possible first day on your new job. Did you spill coffee on your new boss? Forget to grab important files? Accidentally insult a client? All of these scenarios pale in comparison to being arrested once you enter your new office because your background check contained a false outstanding warrant. Hello, office! Goodbye, office. Talk about a bad first impression.

As astonishing as this might sound, it's happened before. Your background check for potential employment can contain outdated information and falsities. Not only can these be major inconveniences, but they can also cost you interviews without you even knowing it. Rather than let inaccurate or outdated records affect your job search, you should work to guarantee that your record reflects your true character.

Be Proactive

In a competitive job market, a whopping 92% of employers run criminal background and credit checks on potential employees. The catch is that not all background checks are equal. No infallible, formal, centralized online public database exists. Depending on the agency employers choose, a check could end your chances.

Although the EEOC has passed recent guidelines to curtail how employers use background checks, the system isn't going to change overnight. You need to be proactive to ensure that your background check process is as smooth and quick as possible. Honesty with your future employer is a priority. Be upfront about possible skeletons in the closet that could hinder your job search and work to remove them from your profile. The best way to begin this process is by researching yourself.

Triple-Check Yourself

About 77 percent of employers will Google you before setting up an interview, so get ahead of your search engine story. Be aware of what they will see, and make sure you know your updated credit history. Although a bad credit record won't necessarily kill your chances for possible employment, it can hurt them if you're seeking work in financial services or management positions.

You should also be prepared to run an actual background check on yourself to identify discrepancies and fix errors before your dream job slips away. This check should include criminal history, employment verification, and educational history. Even minor discrepancies in these areas can cost you.

Conflicts and Resolutions

Speaking of surprises: remember that speeding ticket you thought was handled by your lawyer, or that time your debit card was stolen but you thought the bank had taken care of everything? Sometimes, those resolutions weren't as surefire as you thought. Don't let any incidents or outstanding debts come back to haunt you. Resolve these red flags immediately.

You should double-check that you have accurate start and end dates on your work history and that your proper name and title are included. If you worked as a temp or outside contractor, then ensure that you have updated contact information. Specificity is mandatory.

Many people don't take the time to double-check conflicts in their educational histories. You need to settle any outstanding debts you may have incurred. What about that library book you accidentally left in your old apartment when moving to your new pad? That library fine could still exist and could prevent your school or university from releasing your transcript or granting an official diploma. The devil is in the details; conquer those details before they conquer you.

Unfortunately, no background check is free from possible errors. Whether it's a private detective agency unearthing your dirty laundry or the FBI, mistakes happen. However, conducting a thorough evaluation can allow you to begin repairing your identity if it's tarnished. Multiple identities and histories might look cool in big-screen spy movies, but you want the digital and legal you to truly represent your talents and character when hunting for your next big opportunity.



Reprinted by permission from CareerCast.com, Adicio Inc. All rights reserved. To see other articles about job hunting and career management, please visit http://www.CareerCast.com.




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