A background check is a process of gathering information about an individual. The purpose of a background check may vary. Still, often they are used to assess the candidate’s eligibility for employment, access to education or housing, or suitability for licensing or other permissions. The type and amount of information that is included in a background check can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the organization conducting the check. Generally speaking, some or all of the following types of information may be included: criminal records, driving records, credit history, education verification, and employment verification.
So what is on a standard background check? This question can be difficult to answer because there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Examples – Who Conducts Background Checks?
Background checks are usually conducted by an individual’s current or previous employer or a potential future one. Background checks may also be ordered by landlords or lenders, who use the information provided to determine whether an applicant is suitable for renting or financing housing or credit.
Other organizations that conduct background checks include schools, universities, hospitals, financial institutions such as banks and lending agencies, insurance companies, and volunteer organizations such as churches. Some of these organizations may require all applicants to undergo a standard background check to apply for a position with their organization. Others may only perform a check when hiring new employees or awarding scholarships. Still, others may use background checks only when security is a primary concern.
Military Background Checks
If you are enlisting in the military, you will be required to undergo a background check. Depending on which branch of the armed forces you plan to join, your background check may include any or all of the following: criminal records, financial history (to determine if applicants have enough means to support themselves while not earning an income), education (verification that you completed high school or college), and personal/extensive family information (to ensure that members of the armed forces are not hiring their spouses).
What is on a Background Check?
The standard background check can contain many different elements.
A criminal history is usually the first category listed on a standard background check. This section provides information about an individual’s arrests and/or convictions for any criminal offense—regardless of what crime they may have committed. Even if you were never convicted of a crime, you still should expect to see this information included in your record because it could affect employers or others who do background checks.
Bankruptcies and Bad Debts
Bankruptcies are listings of debts that individuals cannot repay. This may indicate that an individual has a history of financial problems and may not be able to manage their money responsibly.
Employment history is a record of all past jobs that an individual has held, just as the name implies. This section lists each title held in addition to information about when they were employed and how long they lasted. In some cases, an employer will also explain why an applicant was released or terminated from one or more jobs during their employment history (such as for stealing).
A background check typically includes verification that you completed high school or college; it can also include your high school diploma type (GED, etc.) and the date it was received.
If you hold any professional licenses (examples include a license to practice law, medicine, etc.), this section should provide information about each one. It may also include any suspensions or violations associated with the license.
This section lists information about the applicant’s driving record, including traffic violations and accidents (if any). How long ago your infractions were committed will impact how relevant they are on your background check. The accumulation of small traffic tickets over several years, for example, is unlikely to be considered significant if a prospective employer only needs a recent driving history. However, a drunk driving conviction would likely appear at or near the top of most records because it may indicate that an individual has a substance abuse problem that could affect their performance. If you have been involved in any accidents, this section should also provide information about their severity and the amount of time that has passed since your last one.
In an effort to be proactive, a growing number of companies are beginning to conduct social media checks. These services search for publicly available information about you, including anything from photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram to tweets and blog posts on Tumblr. A background check includes this information in its entirety because it could affect an employer’s decision to hire you or your ability to secure certain types of work. Therefore, if any content appears that
The term “background check” can refer to even the simplest of searches. It is important to understand. However, standard background checks are much more detailed in their results. Depending on what you are applying for and the person looking into your history, this could include basic information about your social media presence, traffic violations, and even your credit score. While it may seem like a best practice to clean up any negative content before someone else sees it, employers will often consider all aspects of an individual’s record—positive or negative—when making hiring decisions.