11 June 2015
Before you begin job searching, you can anticipate being asked a lot of questions about your background and work history. However, what you might not realize is that you may also be expected to give your consent to a background check. While this may catch some applicants off guard, it’s important to understand that this part of the onboarding process is not meant to uncover any of your deep, dark secrets, but for the employer to verify that the information you provided them with is true. “Before an employer invests their time and resources into a new hire, they are going to want to ensure that the person is responsible and trustworthy,” explains James Dolan, Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Credentialing and Compliance department. “Proving to employers that you are in possession of these qualities can often be integral to landing the job, so don’t lie or withhold information about your background. Doing so can not only lead to a rescinded offer, but tarnish your reputation in the industry as well.” Therefore, if you are concerned that something in your background may raise a red flag to prospective employers, here are 3 things you can do to handle the situation with confidence: Audit Yourself: Before beginning the application process, conduct your own background report to see what type of information could be concerning to employers. You’ll learn about the areas of your background that may raise questions, which will give you time to prepare appropriate responses. While you are doing this, it’s also important to scan for any potential mistakes that need to be corrected. This way, you can proactively inform employers that any misinformation is untrue and you are having it looked into. Be Up Front: If you know that the employer will be looking into your background, it’s best to be up front with them about any negative information that they might come across. “Coming forward with an honest explanation as to why some details may be of concern to the company can go a long way in terms of gaining their trust,” says James. “You never want to find yourself in a situation where a prospective employer thinks you are hiding anything from them, so when in doubt, honesty is the best policy. A hiring manager will typically be much more understanding of your situation if they first hear about it from you.” To successfully do this, it’s important to find an appropriate time to bring your background up. James recommends bridging this topic after building a rapport with the hiring manager, either towards the end of your first or second interview, or in your follow-up thank you note. “When discussing your background, make the effort to explain what you have learned from any past mistakes,” he says. “This will demonstrate that you can take responsibility for your actions – a trait that many organizations desire in all of their employees.” Secure Strong References: While confidently discussing your background and addressing any applicable areas of concern is an important part of the application/interview process, providing strong professional references can be the key to landing the job. “Having another person vouch for your performance can be the final element that a hiring manager needs to feel assured that you are the right person for the job,” notes James. “As a result, choose who you ask wisely. Everything they say about you should align with what you told your interviewer about yourself.” In today’s ever-evolving marketplace, businesses need to trust that all their employees are representing them in a positive light, and often conduct background checks to confirm this. It’s important to note that much of the information that is provided in the report is sourced from public records, and the state stipulates what can and cannot be provided. However, the majority of the information that you do provide an employer with (employment history, past compensation, criminal and legal records, etc.) is easily verifiable, so when in doubt, transparency is always the best policy.