After being passed over for a significant promotion, you decided it was time to move on from your current job. As luck would have it, you heard about an ideal job that had just become available. You submitted your resume, interviewed with the hiring manager and waited. Then the call came, and you were offered what you felt was your “dream” job pending a background check. You couldn’t have been happier. After all, you had nothing to hide and there weren’t any “skeletons” in your closet, so submitting to an employment background check was simply a routine part of the hiring process.Until it wasn’t.

The employer discovered something during the background check for employment that caused them to rescind their offer. Sadly, this happens more times than you probably thought it did.

An Inside Look at Employment Background Checks

First, let’s look at the “why” of doing an employment background check. You have to realize that the company you’re applying to knows nothing about you. Whatever you’re telling them about yourself may be 100% true and accurate, but they can’t simply take you on your word. Everything you say has to be verified.

This is done for many reasons. Employers have policies in place that are designed to foster a safe workplace for all of their employees. If just one new employee falsified information about their background or employment history, it can end up causing legal problems and liability for the company.

So, what do employment background checks look for?  A thorough background check will look at everything from a candidate’s work and credit history to their driving record to their medical files. The background check will also verify their educational credentials, driving record and social media postings. Most importantly, it will also look for any criminal history. As you can see, it’s pretty comprehensive.

How Background Checks Can be Wrong

If you know you have a clean record, with no criminal charges or prior employment problems, and you know that all the information that you had submitted was accurate and true, how could an employment background check cause you to lose your job offer?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is rising at exponential rates. In 2020 there were 1.4 million victims – double the amount from the previous year. So, it’s quite possible that you were a victim of identity theft as well. Some cybercriminal stole your identity, and while posing as you committed some type of crime or racked up huge credit charges that were never paid.

Another possibility is that when reviewing your social media posts the employer found inappropriate photos or postings that placed you in a very negative light. In fact, almost 54% of employers have disqualified potential employees due to what they found on social media.

In addition, people who have similar names can end up with mismatched profiles on people search sites that indicate there were bankruptcies, court judgments, liens on property, or arrest reports – all in your name, but in reality belonging to a different individual, Despite the mistake, you’ve missed the opportunity to be hired – even though it wasn’t your fault.

How to Protect Yourself

Ok, so what can you do to protect yourself when a potential employer conducts an employment background check? The key is to prepare for that background check before it happens. Start by searching your name on Google. Most people don’t realize it, but Google records every website you visit, every purchase you make and everything you do online. They have a pretty comprehensive record of your activities and a really good record on you. You’re looking for anything about you that might hurt your chances of being hired.

The biggest thing you can do is to remove all the unauthorized information about you from the people search sites. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. Here’s why: there are more than 100 people search sites, including WhitePages, Pipl, Spokeo and PeekYou, and each one has its own rules and methods for deleting information and opting out of the site.

If you were to do this on your own, it would take weeks, if not longer. And if you’re thinking of hiring someone to do this for you, plan on spending lots of money, because it requires a lot of expertise and still will take the persona a lot of time to get it done. This adds up pretty quickly, so it gets very expensive.

Another suggestion – clean up all your social media sites. Remove any questionable posts or photos, and adjust your privacy settings so others can’t see what’s posted. An additional tactic is to create your own web page, focusing on topics that relate to the industry you’re applying for work in. Write articles and white papers and post them on your site to showcase your knowledge about the industry you want to work in.

Here’s one more suggestion: get intimate with LinkedIn. It’s a business-to-business social media site that attracts top management and business leaders – and keeps it as a business-focused platform. If you can, connect with as many people in your industry as you can, so you can always say that you’re connected with the right colleagues in your field. Ask others for references and post them on your LinkedIn page. The more you have, the better.

By following these suggestions, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition when a company decides to run an employment background check on you.

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