Whether you have anything hiding in your past or not, background checks employers use can affect you. For candidates who have some blemishes they’d prefer not to share, it can be a very stressful part of looking for a new job. Unfortunately, simply being the best candidate isn’t the only thing some companies care about.

As always, as a job searcher, more information is better than less. So let’s talk about the different kinds of background checks employers use and some tips to navigate them.

A Variety Of Background Checks To Prepare For

The variety of background checks out there would surprise you, and every company chooses a different assortment to run when hiring. County, State, Federal, Most Wanted, Sex Offender, Terrorist, SSN tracer, employment verification, education verification, motor vehicle search, credit checks……and a partridge in a pear tree.  😊

Some large companies don’t check for anything and some small companies check for everything…there is no easy way to know. It is an à la carte buffet of options for each organization, and each of them tends to treat those checks differently.

Why You Should Care As A Candidate

For the candidates with a squeaky clean background, this may not be a huge deal to you. However, you should care a little as these checks can push out your prospective start date quite a bit.

For the candidates that have a blemish or two (or however many), this should matter to you quite a bit. Not only will it slow the process, but knowing how to handle each scenario, the correct amount of information to offer, and if you even have a shot at the position can be overwhelming.

Tips To Navigate Background Checks

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More Information Is Better

Provide the most accurate and detailed information possible. Little things like employment start and end date, previous addresses, and former names can drastically change the speed at which these checks are completed. Small gaps in information, or incorrect information, can really hang these checks up.

Plus there are those employers who believe small lies (or withholdings of information) are an indicator of future behavior and it can start to sully their view of you even if unwarranted.

Prevent it all and start compiling background information on yourself so you are ready. Any time you move, maintain a document that keeps track of previous addresses and how long you lived there, previous employment dates and the reasons you left, etc. Having this information compiled as you go through your life makes changing careers easier as everything was compiled in real-time and not dependent on your memory.

Do. Not. Lie.

Contrary to popular opinion, no one is looking for a reason to fail you. Employers simply want to find a great candidate to fulfill their role and better their company. Being honest really is the best policy.

If you lie and are caught, expect the job offer to be rescinded. No one likes being lied to or have their time wasted. Be honest and to the point. If it disqualifies you, it is better to find out sooner rather than later so you can find the employer who is not concerned with your particular background blemishes and can see past it, recognizing what you have to offer.

Your Recruiter Is Your Friend

Your recruiter wants to place you in a role just as much as you want to land it. Use them as your advocate and consultant. When you work with experienced recruiters they have seen and heard it all. They are able to give you tips and advice on how to present less favorable information and can potentially speak to the employer and see in advance if something is an immediate deal-breaker.

Again, no one wants their time wasted. Not you, not the recruiter, not the employer. Giving your recruiter all the information they need to properly represent you will only benefit you in the long run.