Top 3 Reasons Why Applicants Fail Their Background Check and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
Finding a job in this economy can be a daunting and difficult task. In a competitive job market employers become more stringent and will disqualify applicants that provide incorrect or incomplete information about themselves over the past 10 years. When employers find discrepancies between the information you provided and what they find out in your background check report, they assume that you are either disorganized, less-than-truthful, or just plain dishonest. Whatever the case, the result is that you don’t receive a job offer. That’s why you must secure your place among the top candidates by making sure you will pass your pre-employment background check.
As a private detective who specializes in background investigations, I want to share with you what I have learned over the past 15 years in conducting tens of thousands of background checks for small, medium, large and fortune 500 companies. Even though I charge $150 an hour for consulting services, I am providing my expert advice to you free of charge because I want you to succeed. If I can help even just a few people find a job and secure their family’s future, I will feel like I am doing my part to help get our country’s economy back on track.
So let’s jump right in to what you came here to for: the top 3 reasons why applicants fail their background check.
REASON #1: FAILURE TO DISCLOSE A CRIMINAL RECORD
You know that little question on every job application with a checkbox next to it that says something like “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Well you need to know the correct answer to this question before you check the box. So let me clarify what this question means to employers: what they really want to know is if you are honest and trustworthy. They can and will find out if you have a criminal record when they conduct the background check, no matter how you answer. So if you say no, and you have a criminal conviction on your record, what you are really demonstrating is that you are not honest and cannot be trusted.
If you do have a criminal conviction and you answer yes to the question, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of getting a job offer by being honest and straightforward. Provide accurate details about the charge, the date, and the county of conviction. When the background check comes back, the employer will see that you have given all of the complete and accurate details up front. This shows you are being open and honest, and that you are taking responsibility for what you did and moving on with your life. You would be surprised to know how often employers are willing to overlook criminal records with applicants that have good solid experience or a winning personality. You can increase your chances of this happening by applying for positions where your conviction is unrelated to the duties of the job you are applying for. For instance, if you were convicted of a DUI, I wouldn’t apply for a driving position, or if you were convicted of theft I wouldn’t apply for a cash handling position.
REASON #2: INACCURATE OR INCOMPLETE WORK HISTORY
Employers want to see accurate and complete information concerning your former employers. The reason for this is again a matter of principal. The employer’s perspective is that they want honest and organized employees, and if you don’t remember the details of your job experience, then why are you listing it on your resume or application? And they do have a point. If you are a very organized person, you probably already have a document prepared with all of the details concerning all of the jobs you have held over the past 10 years. For the rest of us, gathering up all of this information is a near-impossible task, especially if you have job-hopped quite a bit. So what’s the next best thing to having a master document with the details of all your previous work experience? Have a professional background screener compile one for you. That way when you fill out an application you can be confident that you will have the exact same information in front of you as the employer will receive after completing your background check.
The information that you need to compile before filling out a job application consists of the information that is asked on most application forms, such as the ex-employer’s name, address and telephone number, exact dates of employment, your job title per the employer, (not the one you were in theory or the one you thought you deserved) your beginning and ending pay rates, and your reason for leaving as recorded by the employer. Notice the common theme here is that your information should match exactly the information that your ex-employer is going to release when asked. This strategy pays dividends many times over, and will help you to avoid failing a background check for providing inaccurate or incomplete work history information.
REASON #3: FICTITIOUS, EXAGGERATED OR INACCURATE EDUCATION CLAIMS
Employers base pay scales, individual pay rates, job descriptions and job requirements in part on educational qualifications. Even though many job positions require a certain level of education only as a minimum requirement, employers take offense when an applicant misrepresents or overstates their education, because it violates their sense of fair play. If you don’t meet the minimum requirements, then you shouldn’t be applying for the position. Employers also see this as an economic issue; if they are going to be paying you a certain wage based in part on educational credentials you don’t actually have, then they are paying for something that they never received. No company is this economy wants to feel like they are being defrauded.
That is why it is so important to be very specific in stating your education credentials. Don’t say you graduated if you didn’t, even if you were just one credit hour short. If you attended a trade school for 8 months, don’t say you were there for a year. If you graduated with a 2.5 grade average, don’t say you had a 3.0. If you have a GED, say so, but don’t say that you graduated high school; it’s not the same. If you never attended college, don’t say that you attended a university that burned down in 1980. Professional investigators like myself, who do background checks for a living will see right through it, and relay that to our client who requested the background check.
Luckily, you can easily obtain a copy of your background check online to uncover what a potential employer will find before they find it. Instead of filling out an application wondering if you remembered to write down everything correctly, you can just look at your own master document compiled by a professional background screening firm.
A word to the wise: there are thousands of websites that sell instant “background checks” online. These are not professional background screening firms that conduct investigations for large employers. Most of them are just information brokers that sell instant data that has been circulating around the web for years. Make sure that you select a professional background screening firm or private detective agency that does on-request delayed searches, which are researched once you place your order and not instant results.
The bottom line is that in order to be safe, you need to know exactly what a prospective employer is going to find on your background check report. A professional background screening firm that deals with the public can cut out all the work of obtaining the background information about you, and organize it into a report that you can receive in your email box. Instead of having to go to city hall, the courthouse, your high school and other places that hold this information, you can get it all online by ordering a pre-employment background check on yourself.
Good luck and success on your job hunt!