One of the things that rarely gets talked about in the “how to get a job” and “how to ace your interview” articles is “how to deal with the background check.” Background checks are now a normal part of job seeking and are conducted by employers from a variety of industries. It’s likely that you don’t have much (if anything at all) to worry about. If that doesn’t make you feel better, here are some things that you can do to make sure you pass that employment background check with flying colors.
1. Clear Your Record
If you are truly worried, you can run a simple background check on yourself and see what comes up. If there are things on the report that aren’t true, make sure you get them fixed before you start applying for work. If you have actually do have a record, see what you can do to get it sealed or expunged. If you haven’t done anything major -- especially if the items on your record happened while you were underage -- you shouldn’t have much difficulty getting things fixed up.
2. Run Your Credit Report
Believe it or not, many employers are checking credit reports as part of the average background check. Here’s the good news: you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus every twelve months. Here’s the bad news: those bureaus can make mistakes. Here’s the best news: getting those mistakes fixed can take some time but it isn’t impossible -- and you can do most of it online. At that point, it's simply a matter of maintaining a good credit rating.
3. Manage Your Online Reputation
Even if it isn’t done through official channels, most employers are now doing at least a basic Google search on each person they are thinking of employing. This is where things can get tricky. Make sure that all of your social networking profiles are private or work-appropriate. Talk to friends and family and ask them not to tag you in any photos without first getting your permission. Do you have a blog or YouTube channel that you don’t want a potential employer to see? Make it “invitation” or “members” only. Do regular Google searches on yourself to make sure that nothing inappropriate comes up. If something does appear, do the work you need to do to fix it and maintain your reputation online.
4. Stay Out of Trouble
This really should go without saying, but there it is anyway. It is important, particularly while seeking employment (and also to keep that job), to always have your best face forward. This means never saying, doing or posting anything online that you would be embarrassed to have to answer to later on. This is actually a good rule to follow even when you aren’t trying to find a job!
Finally—know that you are entitled to see whatever your employer sees on your background check. If you are denied employment based on that check you are entitled to ask for a copy of the report and can dispute any information on it that is false.