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What does an employer look for in a background check?

By on August 6, 2019

Knowing what employers look for precisely in pre-employment background checks is important for preparing for job application. Most employers look for:

  • Criminal history
  • Inconsistencies in job applications and resumes 
  • Credit history 
  • Driving records 
  • Civil history 

Criminal history 

Employers are particularly interested in your criminal record before they offer you a job. In fact, criminal background checks are the cornerstone of most employment-related background checks. Employers want to know if potential employees have any “skeletons” in their closet. Most employers are concerned about violent offenses, sex crimes, embezzlement, or fraud. They want to know if you have been convicted for crimes or arrested before and reasons behind such arrests. 

If you have been convicted for any crimes including, minor crimes like misdemeanor drug possession petty theft, you should disclose such information in your application if there is a question about your criminal history. Most employers overlook criminal histories as long as applicants are honest about their past. 

Important: It’s not advisable to assume you don’t have a criminal history. Errors occur when criminal reports are being filed at different courthouses. Identity theft, which is a serious problem today, can also result in a surprising criminal history showing up. To avoid such instances, it’s advisable to run a criminal background check beforehand just to ensure all entries are accurate. If there are any mistakes or irregularities, you should have them fixed by a background check company or the courthouse in question. 

Inconsistencies in job applications and resumes 

Employers also run background checks to look for inconsistencies in employment history and education. Employers can’t rely on all applicants to give 100% accurate information in their applications or resumes. To ensure job applicants are accurate and honest, employers carry out background and reference checks that may include calling previous employers and schools. Most employers will go through the trouble of verifying information in 

job applications and resumes since it is crucial for determining whether an applicant is fit for the job. 

Credit history 

Employers are also interested in the credit history of prospective employees since it gives a deep insight into character and responsibility. Some careers, especially those in finance, demand good credit practices. If you are applying for a job to manage other people’s money, employers will want you to have a good credit history. 

Driving records 

Like credit history, a person’s driving records can have some insights into their character and responsibility. Although employers rarely ask for driving records when doing background checks, those that do are interested in assessing how responsible you are. For instance, minor tickets are normal; however, license suspensions and multiple DUIs can be an indication that you may be irresponsible and a liability, especially as a driver. 

Civil history 

Some employers also want to know if you have been a defendant in a case. Whether it was an eviction, personal injury, nonpayment of debt, destruction of property, among other claims, civil history can provide some clues on a person’s temperament, character, and overall history.

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