A background check can reveal an individual’s criminal history, employment history and credit history. These checks are typically done before a company hires someone.
Background checks can also be conducted on people who are not employed by a company. These are called nontraditional workers, including freelancers, independent contractors and temp agencies.
An individual’s criminal history is a record of their convictions or pending charges. These records can influence a wide range of decisions, including hiring, security clearances, housing, licensing and international travel. Additionally, the results of an individual’s criminal history can impact their family, friends and community in ways beyond work.
Criminal background checks are based on state-level computerized systems that index fingerprint repositories and other important information for each person who has been arrested or otherwise involved with the criminal justice system. Law enforcement agencies and other public entities are obligated to report data into these systems, which are usually available for authorized users through online databases or other search methods.
While a criminal record is always going to be relevant for some positions, societal opinion is shifting toward rehabilitation over punishment. As such, some thoughtful employers are taking independent action by “banning the box” and pushing background checks to later in the hiring process to allow ex-convicts a chance to present their qualifications without being judged initially.
When considering a criminal record, be sure to consider the nature and severity of the crime. Also, remember that a person’s risk of recidivism decreases over time. As such, it’s generally not appropriate for an employer to consider an individual’s arrest records unless they are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
An individual’s employment history is a crucial part of their professional profile, and it is often verified as a component of background checks. This generally entails checking previous job details such as companies worked for, positions held, salary information, and dates of employment. It may also include verifying stated reasons for leaving jobs in order to make sure they are accurate.
While it is possible for an employer to obtain a full list of an applicant’s work history by contacting their past employers, many companies rely on applicants to self-report this information via job applications and resumes. This is why it’s important for people to be honest when they complete these documents, as any inconsistencies could raise a red flag for employers and potentially cause them to pass on a candidate.
In addition to checking a person’s employment history, a background check can also verify their education and other non-criminal issues such as driving records, drug test results, and bankruptcy filings. In some states, a background check can also include the results of court proceedings that did not result in conviction such as diversion programs and dismissals. However, most states and counties have laws that limit what can be included in a pre-employment background check. It’s therefore best to check the specific laws in your area before ordering a report.
A credit check or consumer report searches a candidate’s public records, which includes their consumer reporting data from one or more of the three major credit bureaus. This can reveal inconsistencies, errors, and identity theft. A criminal record check typically scans official databases for convictions, pending, and dismissed charges reported by county or state courts. It can also include a country criminal court search to check for arrests, incarcerations, or deported status.
An employment background check will search previous jobs, contacting employers as needed to confirm information submitted by candidates. A background check company may also conduct education verification to confirm that a candidate attended a specific school, college or university and earned listed degrees or diplomas. It can also check to see if an applicant received certifications or licensing credentials in certain professions.
While it’s legal to run a background check on someone you know for personal reasons, it is illegal to vet people in an employment or professional setting without consent. Vetting individuals in a work or social context is a breach of privacy and could violate laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Credentials are proof of professional qualifications and can include degrees, diplomas, certificates and licences. A university degree is a common example. These credentials help a company determine whether a candidate is fit to work in a specific field and can be used to identify the most qualified candidates.
Background checks can also confirm a candidate’s identity and conduct other checks to mitigate risks in the workplace. This can include drug testing, driving record checks and credit checks. Drug tests examine a sample of urine, blood or hair to check for the presence of alcohol or drugs that could impair job performance. Background checks can also verify a candidate’s driving records to ensure they can operate vehicles safely and efficiently. Driving record checks can also provide insight into a candidate’s accident and conviction history, which is useful for assessing risk and mitigating damages claims in the event of an accident.
It’s important to have clear policies and procedures for conducting background checks. This helps to avoid bias and create a consistent and fair hiring process. In addition, ensuring a positive candidate experience during the background check process involves maintaining transparency and addressing any concerns promptly. A candidate-friendly process includes mobile-friendly workflows and digital consent to make starting a check quick and easy. It also includes integrations to streamline the process and reduce manual workloads.