Have you just been offered a job? Did you hear that it is dependent on a background check and then immediately freak out and wonder what terrible things in your past the background check will pull up? What if they find out that you’re not as good at correctly formatting documents as you said in your interview? Or if they somehow reveal that they know about the time you stole a soda when you were 13?
Fear not. Background checks aren’t something that employers use to find every dirty detail of your life. There are laws and protections put in place to regulate how much information a background check company can reveal to an employer. So, before you immediately lose your mind and think you won’t get the job, it’s important to understand what will be revealed to your employer.
Education and Licenses
It can be pretty easy to include on your resume that you went to an ivy league college or have a handful of licenses when those things aren’t true. Because of that, employers use the background check to ensure that what you have claimed is accurate. They want to make sure that you actually have the education and training that you claim to. Additionally, they will check that the licenses and certifications necessary for the job are up-to-date.
How far back your background check will go into your criminal record is dependent on the state. However, most states only go back about 7 years, depending on the situation. If you have a criminal background, it is in your best interest to be completely honest about it on your application and if it is brought up in your interview. You might have some hesitations about talking about it, but your employer will appreciate the honesty. While you shouldn’t feel that you need to go into detail about the conviction, you should be upfront about it.
Motor Vehicle Record
If you expect to be driving as part of your job, expect that your employer will pull your driving record. They are required to do so as part of their insurance process. Don’t immediately get worried if you have a glovebox full of parking tickets. Those will not show up on your driving record. However, speeding, accidents, or other driving-related crimes will.
Just as with a criminal record, if you have blemishes on your driving record from the last 7 to 10 years, it is much better to be honest with the employer about them. They will be more likely to work with someone who is honest about their issues than someone who tries to hide them.