A typical job applicant is totally unprepared for background checks. At some level, they know that checks will be carried out during the recruitment process. However, they don’t make any preparations for them. This is because most of applicants don’t realize that they need to prepare for background checks.
Applicants often think that they only need to prep their resumes, cover letters, and applications; and then prepare themselves for job interviews. They don’t even know that there is such a thing as preparing for background checks. As such, most are totally unprepared for the checks.
Unfortunately, it is employers who end up feeling the pinch of such unpreparedness. In some cases, background checks raise false red flags. This causes employers to miss out on otherwise great hires. In other cases, employers get sued over making decisions basing on false info reported in background checks.
Therefore, it is in the best interest of every employer to ensure that job applicants are prepared for background checks. The ultimate question is: how can employers prepare job applicants for background checks?
Well, they can do so by giving applicants a heads-up on the areas in which background checks will be carried out. Specifically, they can inform applicants about the simple errors which can arise during different types of background checks. To be in position to advise applicants, employers need to understand the simple errors which can sometimes raise false red flags.
Here is a snapshot of the common errors which can arise from different categories of background checks. In most cases, a simple pre-background check audit by an applicant can correct these errors, and increase chances that inquiries will produce correct results.
Criminal background checks sometimes return false records. There are numerous reasons for this. In some cases, criminal records which were expunged still appear in court records or criminal databases.
In other cases, criminal records are “miscatalogued”. The end result is that a criminal background search can return records for another person who has a similar name. Also, there are scenarios where arrests or charges are lodged as convictions – even if in actual sense, no convictions were made.
The best person who can spot such mistakes is an applicant. For an employer, such records will appear genuine. As such, in preparation for background checks, applicants are advised to run the checks on themselves. This will make them identify such mistakes and take steps to rectify them.
Employment verification sometimes returns information which doesn’t match what an applicant included in their résumé. In such cases, it is easy to consume that the person lied. However, in some cases, there are genuine explanations for the discrepancies.
A common scenario is when an employer listed in the résumé claims that the applicant never worked with them. This sometimes arises in cases of temporary worker arrangements. Most applicants list their placement company in their employment records. And yet, in such cases, the actual employer is the staffing agency which hired them. Therefore, when an employer calls the placement company, they will rightly say that the applicant never worked with them. And yet, in actual sense, the applicant worked with them while on contract with a staffing agency.
Another scenario is when an employer listed in the résumé doesn’t exist. There are three possible reasons for this. First of all, the company could have closed shop. Secondly, the company could have changed names. Finally, the company could have been acquired, and integrated into another company. In such cases, attempting to locate the company proves futile.
There are also cases where the employment dates listed in the résumé don’t match those in the employer’s records. This can arise due to a memory lapse on the part of the applicant, or even a simple typing error.
All these scenarios can easily be rectified by an applicant. All it takes is running a simple employment check on themselves. In some cases, it is a matter of attempting to contact their former employer. In other cases, all they need to do is make a single phone call. They can do this as part of their pre-background check preparations.
Education verification sometimes returns information which is different from what is contained in the résumé. For instance, an education institution can claim that an applicant was never awarded a degree. This can arise in cases where an applicant did not complete the institution’s student clearance process. In most universities, a student who didn’t return a book borrowed from a library, or has unpaid dues can have their degrees withheld. They may graduate, but will not be able to access their transcripts or other documents.
In such cases, when an employer calls the registrar to confirm the applicant’s degree, the university will report that the applicant has never been awarded a degree. In some instances, the mistake actually isn’t the fault of the applicant. Sometimes, university employees misplace or misfile receipts, and make students appear to have unpaid dues.
All this can easily be rectified by an applicant. It is a matter of contacting their educational institution and settling any outstanding disputes. Every applicant needs to do this prior to background checks.
Social Media Profiles
Many employers now search social media, especially professional sites like LinkedIn as part of their background checks. In some cases, many find a discrepancy between what is contained on LinkedIn and the contents of a résumé.
These discrepancies can arouse suspicions. However, they can arise from the simple fact that some applicants don’t regularly update their LinkedIn profiles. As such, some of the information in their résumés may not be contained in their LinkedIn profiles.
Also, some people customize their job histories, and professional training depending on the position they are applying for. As such, they may not include all previous employments in a résumé, but have it all in their LinkedIn profiles. To recruiters, this may appear fishy.
Even then, the onus is on applicants to ensure that there is a consistency between the contents of their résumés and what appears on their social media profiles. As such, every applicant needs to carry out a discrepancy check to identify and resolve any such inconsistencies.
DMV driving records checks sometimes return false records. The reasons for this are similar to why criminal background checks return false records. The solution is also the same. Any applicant who anticipates that their driving records will be searched needs to initiate a DMV check of their own. This will enable them to identify and correct any mistakes.
Credit reports are rarely used in standard background checks. However, applicants for positions which involve handling money often have their credit histories examined. Although credit reports are mandated to be accurate – courtesy of Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act – sometimes, inaccurate information is returned.
The most common reason for inaccuracies in credit reports is when people have been victims of identity theft. In such cases, the credit histories do not reflect the financial habits of the individual.
The only person who can identify such inaccuracies is the individual. This is why everyone – not just applicants – is advised to regularly examine their credit reports. For anyone applying for a financial position, getting credit reports is a must. The good news is that FACT mandates the top 3 credit unions (www.equifax.com/, annualcredit.com, and www.experian.com) to provide everyone a free credit report every 12 months.
In a nutshell, applicants need to prepare for background checks. Such preparation will ultimately increase their chances of getting hired. However, it will also save employers from making wrong hiring decisions due to simple background check errors. Therefore, employers need to take the step of offering applicants simple tips to help them prepare for background checks.