Eliminating the Fear of Employee Background Checks

Am I going to fail my employee background check? This is a question that haunts job hunters from all walks of life. Regardless of how spotless our past is, the phrase “background check” may illicit fear in the best of us. Why are so many people scared of what an employer may find in a background check even when they know they have nothing to hide?

Though background checks have been around for decades now, they have just in the last several years become a standard practice for most employers. The older generation that hasn’t had to look for a new job for many years may be facing their first background check or the younger generation may just be entering the job market and being screened for the first time. Regardless of where you are in life, job hunting can be a daunting task, and background checks tend to add to the stress of this.

While there are some black marks that we just can’t erase in our past, in many instances we have the power to ensure that we pass background checks. To help reduce the stress that many may feel when facing the prospect of these screenings, let’s look at the top reasons someone may fail the check and ways we can correct this upfront.

Don’t Pad Your Resume.  Little white lies can often turn into big bold lies. Though many people tend to embellish when it comes to their experience, it is important to always be truthful when reporting specific qualifications. Educational credentials are one area that some job hunters feel it is necessary to beef up when sending out resumes and it is one of the easiest areas for employers to catch you in a lie.

Educational background checks are able to confirm if you actually obtained a degree, when and from where. If you attended a college but are short a few credits for graduation, don’t report that you received a degree. It may be tempting to fill in a completion date, but these checks will always reveal the truth. And even if an employer doesn’t run this check at the beginning, this doesn’t mean they won’t do it at a later time.

In 2007, Marilee Jones resigned her position as dean of MIT because it was found that she had lied about having three degrees from three different schools. Though she had attended one of the three schools, she had never actually completed a degree from it and had not even been enrolled at the other two. Jones had spent more than two decades employed with MIT before the truth came out. In the end, she had to resign her position and her reputation was forever tarnished.

It may also be tempting to lie about what degree was received. This is another fact that an educational background check will confirm. For instance, if you have a degree in business but are applying for a marketing position, you may wonder what the harm would be in fudging the truth to get your foot in the door. The truth is it can end your career.

In 2012, Scott Thompson relinquished his position as CEO of Yahoo after just four months when it was reported that he lied about having a degree in accounting and computer science.  While he did indeed have a degree in accounting, he did not have a degree in computer science.  Once again, a brilliant career was ruined.

So what should we learn from this? Don’t lie about your education. Employers would much rather know that you are three credits shy of your degree than find out you lied about having one. Truthfulness on a resume will always win out over lies.

Don’t Lie about Criminal Records.  The little box which asks about criminal records can be a big source of contention for job hunters. It is tempting to mark “No” when asked about any criminal convictions, but it is always better to be upfront when it comes to this matter. There are many offenses which, though you may be embarrassed about admitting to on an application, will not eliminate you from employment. Lying about the offense, however, most certainly will lead to your application being thrown in the paper shredder.

Nearly one-third of today’s workforce has a criminal record. Yet, the unemployment rate is less than 5%. This shows that employers will still hire someone despite a criminal record. Of course, some offenses just won’t be tolerated and others are an absolute no-no for certain jobs.  For instance, if you have two DUI’s, the chances of being hired as a trucker are basically zero. Understand the severity of your offense and how it relates to the job you are applying for before moving forward with it.

In the end, honesty is once again the best policy. Most employers understand that people make mistakes and are willing to give you a chance as long as you are honest and your offense does not endanger others.

Don’t Fake Your Job History. Maybe you’re not intentionally lying about your job history but just can’t remember the exact details. Maybe you feel that you didn’t stay at a job long enough. Regardless of why you faked the details, a potential employer can easily confirm them and decide you are not the right fit for them.

If you’re not sure of the dates of your employment history, make some calls and get the information right. If you feel that it would’ve looked better if you had stayed with an employer longer, be proactive in explaining why you left when applying for a new job.

The final lesson that should be learned is, employers can forgive many things, but they will not tolerate dishonesty. The simplest way to pass an employee background check is to be honest so that there are no surprises when it comes back. If you are beginning the process of job hunting for the first time or it is time to look for a new position elsewhere, running a self-background check can give you insight on how your background check may look to a potential employer.

SB Checks’ Self Check App is the perfect way to see what an employer will see when they run the check themselves. Visit clearcandidate.com or call (888) 725-2535 today to see how simple and inexpensive it can be to get a self-background check and eliminate the fear that often comes with these checks.