From criminal history to bad reviews from former bosses, a pre-employment background screening can cost you a job opportunity for a number of different reasons. Here are six of the most common explanations for why your background check tarnished your job chances.
The vast majority of employers these days do extensive background checks on their job applicants before making an official hiring decision. Even if you have a job offer on the table, it might be conditional on you passing a background check first. Suffice it to say that these screenings are a very important step in the job interview process, and that they can impact your chances of landing or not landing a dream job.
If you’ve never submitted to a pre-employment background check before, it can be unclear exactly what employers are looking for (or finding) in your past. You’ll find yourself asking questions like “What are they learning about me?” or “Do I have to worry about missing out on a job because of this?” Both are valid questions. To help answer them, here are six reasons that you might be rejected for a job based on a background check.
1. You have an extensive criminal history
One of the first things that employers are looking for on their applicant background checks is criminal history. The simple existence of a criminal conviction on your record doesn’t necessarily mean you will be disqualified from employment consideration. Most employers won’t look at misdemeanor offenses or older convictions as deal breakers, and people who aren’t repeat offenders are regularly given the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to rebuild their lives after a criminal offense. Violent criminals, sex offenders, notorious repeat offenders, or embezzlers are just a few of the groups that will repeatedly lose job offers due to criminal history background checks.
Ultimately, though, know that different jobs have different standards as far as acceptable criminal history is concerned. For instance, you’ll be much more likely to get hired for a warehouse job with a criminal record than you will be to win a teaching position at a public elementary school.
2. You lied on your resume
Background checks are great for uncovering an applicant’s criminal history, but they might be even better for unmasking bits of dishonesty on the resume or job application. Maybe you claimed a college degree that you don’t really have, or perhaps you lied about a previous job title or hire date. Between background checks and employment or educational verification checks, an employer has a good chance of finding out if you lied on your resume. And if you did, even if the fib was minor and seemingly inconsequential to you, it can still cost you a job opportunity. After all, what boss wants to hire a person they know is willing to lie to them?
3. Your credit history is poor
Not all employers will look into your credit history. For jobs that involve the handling of money or finances, though, you might find yourself approving a credit history check. Quite simply, your prospective employer wants to know how youhave handled your own finances in the past. And in such situations, substantial amounts of debt or evident money issues can mark you as someone who is not responsible enough for the job at hand.
4. Your driving record revealed issues
As with credit history, driving records are not something that every employer is going to look at. If you are going to be operating a vehicle as part of your job, then a driving history check should and will be a part of the applicant screening process. A speeding ticket or two shouldn’t hurt you, but if you’ve been charged with reckless driving or with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, then you’ll be out of the applicant pool as quickly as the hiring manager can shred your application.
5. A previous employer gave you a bad review
As part of a background check, hiring managers won’t just call the references you’ve listed to speak on your behalf, but they’ll also probably try to speak with your former bosses. There’s an obvious reason for this: your prospective employer wants to hear how you operate on a day-to-day basis. Are you friendly? Are you a hard worker? Is your work of a high quality? These are a few of the types of questions that a hiring manager might wish to ask your former bosses, just to get an idea of what kind of experience they would have with you as an employee.
Due to libel claims and other similar issues, some former employers won’t be willing to speak about you beyond confirming job titles, hiring dates, and salaries. However, if you left a job on bad terms or frequently had clashes with your boss, there’s a chance that information could come out during the pre-employment screening process, and it might just alter your hiring chances.
6. Your background check pulled up incorrect information
Chances are you’ve been reading this list and keeping a tally of the things you might have to worry about from background checks. You’ve never committed a crime, you were completely truthful on your resume, you have exemplary credit, your driving record is clean, and you are on great terms with all of your old bosses: you should have nothing to worry about, right?
Well, not quite. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still have your employment chances derailed by a background check. How come? Because ultimately, not every background check is going to be 100% accurate. For instance, a criminal conviction might have been filed on your record from a felon who shares your name. Or perhaps you’re a victim of identity theft, and that fact has left your credit in ruins. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to do a test background check on yourself before heading into the interview. If you find any incorrect information, you can contact the appropriate courts or departments to get everything fixed and put in proper order.
Also remember that if you do lose a job opportunity because of a background check, you have a right to know why. The employer needs to provide you with a written explanation for the decision, and you are legally permitted to request a free copy of the background check report that cost you the job. If the report was inaccurate, you can dispute the findings and get your name cleared so that you have a better shot at getting the job next time around.
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Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.