Whether you are an employer or an employee, you’ve likely come across the topic of background checks. A large number of jobs require this type of check prior to the beginning of employment, but the idea can be nerve-wracking to those who don’t understand what’s happening.
A background check is essentially a thorough screening of a person’s private and public records, including but not limited to: employment, criminal record, and education.
Most employers will use a FCRA-compliant consumer reporting agency (CRA) to gather information on a potential employee that can verify they are who they say they are. The contents of the background check are required to align with the reason for the check itself. If you are applying for a job in the financial world, as an example, educational and criminal background check details would be applicable.
For the most part, employers are not required legally to conduct a background check, meaning that it technically is never necessary. However, companies that deal with sensitive information with the ability to make a serious impact on society or the economy will almost always utilize a background check. With that said, 93% of firms globally report using background checks to vet potential employees, going to show the importance of being ready to partake in one.
Before applying for a job that requires a background check, you may want to know what’s involved with the process. The majority of background checks will include:
The amount of time the background check covers depends on the agency that is running it. For the most part, background checks will cover at least 7 years of history. If you’ve ever used an alias in the past or had a maiden name, the background check will still pull the results of your information. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, there are a number of benefits and drawbacks to be aware of:
Workplace Safety: By running a background check, employees can rest assured knowing everyone around them is not a violent offender who may pose a risk to the workplace.
Hires are more likely to be qualified: Anybody can lie on a resume but lying about your educational background will be discovered with a standard background check. This can save a company time and money from having to rehire a new employee after the first doesn’t work out.
Protection against cybersecurity risks: In the modern day and age, cybersecurity breaches are on the rise like never before. In fact, a hacking attempt occurs every 39 seconds, meaning that employers need to be sure the person they’re hiring isn’t trying to set up an attack.
The Time and Expense: Background checks are not free, and they certainly aren’t cheap to run. Background checks can be hundreds of dollars per employee which, for larger corporations, may not be as much of an issue. However, if smaller companies would like to ensure the safety of their workplace then they will need to pay large sums of money. Additionally, the turnaround time for background checks is not overnight which means a potential candidate may join another organization if it takes too long.
Bias Against Potential Employees: An unfortunate side effect of background checks is that they can be used to unfairly judge an individual. In some cases, a person with a criminal background who has turned their life around may have trouble receiving a job offer due to their past. Rather than judging the results of a background report from a first glance, it’s best if employers consider all scenarios.
The pros for running a background check will outweigh the cons for most organizations. Protect your company by ensuring the safety of your workplace, but be sure not to make rash judgments off the results of a background check.
Ensuring your employees don’t have any skeletons in the closet can help protect your organization from lawsuits and other legal issues. As an employee, keeping your history clean will help reassure employers that you are capable of bringing everything that you offer to the table. Background checks are extremely common and are nothing to fear, provided you have nothing to hide.