Clearing up myths about background checks

With the use of background checks increasingly in the news, employees and job seekers across all industries are becoming more wary of what details about their personal and professional histories are being researched, reviewed and used against them during the hiring process.

The vast majority of employers use fair, unbiased measures to help them determine the best applicant for a particular job. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a slew of misconceptions out there regarding employment screening. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions, which all employers should be aware of as you journey through the hiring process.

Myth 1: Background check policies are the biggest reason the unemployment rate is so high. This is untrue. Background checks do keep the occasional applicant from securing the job, but background check policies are put in place to ensure the best applicants are hired and retained. The goal is to hire, not to keep a position unfilled.

Myth 2: If you have a criminal record, you won’t be hired. While having a criminal record could pose some difficulties during the hiring process, that depends on how long ago the crime was committed, the nature of the conviction, among other things. According to one survey, less than 10 percent of applicants with criminal records are denied employment.

Myth 3: Employers factor in your credit score when deciding whether or not to hire you. Not true in most cases. Credit checks are typically done when the job in question involves handling money and keeping track of finances. Even so, most employers use what’s called an Employment Credit Report, which does not include a credit score.

Myth 4:  Applicants aren’t given a chance to correct or argue findings. Actually, by law employers are required to give job applicants a copy of their background check and allow them to clear up any misinformation.

As with most areas of business, communication is key. Make sure your policies are clearly stated, and strictly followed. And give prospective employees the chance to clear up any misinformation that might have been uncovered during the process.

Kristina Taylor
In 1989, Kristina began her career as a customer service representative at the newly formed American Tenant Screen, Inc. Ten years later, she pioneered tenant background screening on the Internet. As a long-standing member of the National Multifamily Resident Information Council (formerly the National Association of Screening Agencies) Kristina gains insight into the trends of the tenant screening industry to better understand the current and future needs of their clients.

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