Job Hunting? Make Background Checks Work to Your Benefit



Even though news headlines show employers are doing more thorough research in background checks, if you’re a job hunter don’t be too concerned.

There are reasons why.

It used to be that employers merely checked references. Then, many employers started doing credit checks. That was especially true for jobs related to finance.

Employers have expanded their research in background checks for more than a decade for very good reasons.

Michael KlazemaEmployers have expanded their research in background checks for more than a decade for very good reasons.

“They have also been a frequent focus of news headlines as of late, with every week seeming to bring about a new story about a major employer implementing new employee background check policies,” says Michael Klazema.

He cites the University of Illinois. Perhaps surprisingly, the institution announced a new background check policy for faculty members and other workers in 2015.

Mr. Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009.

                             Mr. Klazema


He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com.

Reasons for increase


Why the growth in background checks?

“For instance, employers run background checks on their applicants to avoid hiring dangerous or unqualified applicants,” he says.

“They run background checks to protect themselves from individuals who might damage their organization – whether by stealing company assets, instigating workplace violence, or creating public relations problems,” he asserts.

If you’re not an embezzler or have anger-management issues, should you take it personally? No.

“Remembering that employers are running background checks not as a judgment of you, but as a means of combatting unflattering statistics, is an important distinction to make.”

“While some job searchers do take background check requests from employers as a sign of mistrust, you need to remember that employers are just playing a statistics game,” explains Mr. Klazema.

“They are just familiar with various facts and figures that make pre-employment background checks a necessary protective measure,” he says. 

Alarming statistics

He points out several statistics that alarm employers:

— According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, workplace violent accounts for 18 percent of all violent crime. Employers can use background checks to weed out known violent offenders and reduce the likelihood of violent workplace altercations.

— In 2003, a report from the Society of Human Resources Management noted that more than half (53 percent) of all job applications are inaccurate in some way. Background checks can help employers verify resume information and catch applicants for lying or exaggerating about their qualifications.

— According to Fortune Magazine, employers lose about 80 percent of all negligent hiring lawsuits. Background checks help employers catch employee red flags, dodge bad hires, and avoid negligent hiring claims in the first place.

— A 2014 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners stated that the average organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue as a result of occupational fraud. Background checks can spot histories of theft, embezzlement, or fraud – helping to prevent such costly incidents from ever happening.

— In 2008, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a report claiming that more the 75 percent of consistent drug users are employed in some capacity. A company seeking to promote a drug-free workplace can use background checks to spot previous drug convictions and keep many substance abusers outside the walls.

Career advice

Mr. Klazema provides job-seeking advice:

“Remembering that employers are running background checks not as a judgment of you, but as a means of combatting unflattering statistics, is an important distinction to make,” he suggests.

If you recognize the importance of background checks as merely a tool in pre-employment screening, you will be more successful as an applicant, he adds.

“For one thing, it can encourage you to disclose any skeletons in your past so that you can explain them upfront, instead of waiting for employers to find those skeletons and make their own judgments,” he says.

If you have the slightest concern, he recommends running a self-check before you interview.

“Some background check reports do have inaccuracies, and you don’t want to be lumped in with the rest of the applicants getting red flagged by an employer,” he concludes.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more career tips:

Seeking a Job? Your Rights in Background Checks — If you’re seeking a job, you may or may not be accorded the same rights in background checks as other applicants in the United States. Why? There isn’t a norm you can expect in background checks, according to an expert.

5 Personality Traits for Personal and Professional Success — Five personality traits are important for overcoming stress and achieving goals academically, professionally and in personal relationships.

Spelling Tips to Enhance Your Communication Skills — Good communication skills start with using proper grammar and spelling. They’re central for your career growth. People who communicate stand head and shoulders above their peers.

Looking for a Job? Get a Personal Web Site for an Edge — If you’re looking for a job and competition is tough, human resource professionals say a personal Web site can be a valuable asset. Sixty-eight percent of HR professionals are looking to assess personal qualities that aren’t perceptible from a traditional resume.

Are You Struggling to Write Great Cover Letters? Here’s How — If you want to write a cover letter that will entice employers to consider you, there are several precautions to take. Otherwise, you risk sending a letter that employers won’t want to read. Here are seven strategies.

“A spare tire is something that you don’t check until you have a punctured one.”

-Vikrant Parsai

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seeking a Job? Your Rights in Background Checks



If you’re seeking a job, you may or may not be accorded the same rights in background checks as other applicants in the United States.

Why? There isn’t a norm you can expect in background checks.

“Technically each company has their own policies, each state has their own laws and each background screening company has their own ways of doing things, not to mention they use all types of different sources,” says Michael Klazema of Klazema Communications.

adamr applicantHe says you’re probably not getting the same treatment as other job seekers.

“However, there are a few commonalities when it comes to background screening,” explains Mr. Klazema, who says your education and work experience will be checked.

“Where the confusion comes in is how long they will go back,” he says. “For example, in one company, it may be considered normal to go back five years when it comes to work history but in another, normal is 10 years.”

It’s common for employers to check for a possible criminal background.

“…some companies would never dream of checking a state criminal database or federal court records but they will certainly check county records,” adds Mr. Klazema. “Other companies will focus fully on the federal records and not the county records.”

Possible atypical checks

“Other things, however, like driving record checks, credit checks and medical checks may not be normal and may not even be legal in your state,” he asserts.

“For instance, it would probably not be normal for a company to check your driving record if you will be doing no driving for them,” Mr. Klazema points out. “Credit checks, on the other hand, used to be fairly normal, but over the past few years they have become much less so.”

Many states have banned credit checks for hiring purposes. That’s true for medical checks.

“The only thing that a medical check can be used for is to ensure that you can do the duties of the job,” he says. “For instance, if you are required to lift 100 pounds and walk it across a warehouse as part of the job description and you are medically unable to do this, a medical exam can be used.”

The bottom-line: If you need more specific information, your best source regarding your rights is probably an experienced employment lawyer.

From the Coach’s Corner, more job-seeking tips:

Career Advice for College Grads Facing a Firewall — Lessons in the Disparity between Expectations and Reality   Are university graduates overly optimistic about their career options? Yes. Apparently, they have mistaken perceptions. Worse, a major consulting firm is seemingly contributing to the problem. Increasingly, new college graduates are bewildered why they’re under-employed, according to research by Accenture in 2014.

Career Advice — An Alternative to Applying for Jobs Online — As a job-hunter you know that a significant number of companies, nonprofits and public-sector agencies use an online tracking system to accept applications and screen out applicants. It cuts down on their paper work and saves them time.

Is Your Career Stalled? Turbo Charge Your Personal Brand — Perhaps you’re struggling in a job search. You’re ambitious but underemployed, or worse – unemployed. You’re not alone. Millions of professionals are trying to solve similar puzzles. The good news is that you can rebrand yourself for a rewarding career.

With a Mentor, You Won’t be Alone in Making Career Decisions — You don’t have to be alone in making career decisions. No matter what you do for a living, there’s one investment on which you can count to improve your career. Plus, it won’t cost you any money. Huh? Yes, you can get a mentor.

7 Tips to Tweet Your Way to a Great New Job – Seriously — Surprise! If you play it smart you can take advantage of the 500 million Twitter account holders to get a new job or career. Really, it’s true.

“In 20 years time you will regret the things you didn’t do much more than the things you did wrong.” 

-Mark Twain 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.
Photo courtesy of adamr at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.