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In a world of online information, most prospective employees are aware of the impact social media plays in the hiring process. But for many employers, calculating employee risk extends beyond search results online.

Background checks are becoming an increasingly common practice throughout the hiring process as a means of calculating risk. To avoid any unfortunate surprises, it’s always advisable to run your own background check before looking for a job.

What is a background check?

A background check compiles a list of various records as a way of validating a person’s identity. These records typically include financial records, public records (like bankruptcy), credit checks, and criminal records.

It may also include education and employment history, references, and civil records too. A background check helps an employer validate that an applicant is well-suited for the job without posing an unnecessary risk to the company as a liability.

Different Types of Background Checks and Why You Need to Run Them

Understanding the different types of background checks will not only help you prepare for your job hunt, but it will also give you a better idea of what to look for throughout the process. Job hunting is stressful and time-consuming, and being prepared can help you navigate any hurdles you may run into.

Criminal background checks

The level of information given on a screening depends on the type ordered by the company. Most common reports will include any prior arrests (although some states do not disclose this publicly), convictions of felonies, incarceration records, sex offenses, warrants, and any court records.

It’s important to know what employers are going to find, especially if you have a few questions about disclosure in your state. Some companies will not hire those with felonies or sex offenses, particularly if you intend to work vulnerable people (like children or elderly). If results appear on your record, try talking to an attorney to have them expunged.

Sex Offender Registry

In the United States, there is a state and national sex offender registry, which is public information. As such, all sex offenses will show in criminal background checks. Many employers that work within the public sector will check these databases before hiring.

As the sex offender registry is a public record, it’s important to check the record before employment. The only way to remove your name from the registry is through a pardoned or overturned conviction, and only if eligible for removal. Although many employers won’t hire an individual on the registry, some industries are willing to work with sex offenders.

Driving Records

The amount of disclosure given within the driving record depends on your state of primary residence. This will show any accidents, tickets, or citations you’ve received for the maximum time allowed by the state guidelines.

If you’re looking to secure a job as a driver or motorized vehicle operator, check your driver’s abstract for accuracy. Make sure you confirm the details of any tickets, infractions, or accidents. Most states do have limitations on reporting, so confirm information has been removed after that time.

Credit Report

Common within the financial sector of employment, the credit report can only be obtained with your express, written consent. Loans, collection accounts, bankruptcy, or defaults will all be visible in the report. Your credit score will not be visible to employers who run a credit check.

Identity theft is increasing as the world shifts to an online domain. To protect yourself and your livelihood from theft, monitor your credit report regularly for accuracy. Make sure to report any accounts that are not yours promptly to have them removed from your file.

SSN Validation Screening

Employers will use the social security number screening as proof of eligibility to work in the United States. The name and complete address history attached to the given SSN will be provided in the report.

If you’re worried about the validity and security of your SSN, order an SSN verification tool. This information will confirm the number is valid, the state it was issued in, and the approximate year it was issued.

Trying to find employment is often a long and exhaustive process. By running a background check on yourself before looking for a job, you’ll be sure anything an employer sees is accurate and factual, rather than missing out on your dream job due to errors or outdated information. It is better to enter an interview prepared and willing to address any potential concerns up front than to have them uncovered and look suspicious after you’ve lost the opportunity to explain.