How Can You Run an Employment Background Check on Yourself? 4 Feb 2019
You’ve finally found your dream job. You’ve been busy looking up interview tips. You even had your resume professionally edited and did some online networking. But, you still need to prepare for the final part of the hiring process—the employment background check.
Most employers run background checks on job applicants. Background checks provide many perks to employers. Some of these benefits include better quality hires and greater employee retention. With background checks giving employers a definite advantage, they’re here to stay. In that case, how can you use background checks to your advantage?
Running a background check on yourself can bring tremendous benefits. It can remind you of important details and ensure your application is accurate. It can also prepare you for questions your employer may have about your background. So, how can you run a background check on yourself? Is it difficult or expensive to do? Is it even worth it?
How Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
You can run a background check on your own or through a company. It all depends on what checks you want to use. Start by using these basic methods:
Online databases. Search online public records databases to see your information. Keep in mind that online databases don’t have access to all records.
Social media. Google yourself and look at your social media profiles.
Court records. Collect your court records and see what’ll surface when your employer looks at your record.
References. Check your references, education history, and work experience.
Credit report. Request your credit report from one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies.
The right background check company. Order a comprehensive background check from a company specialized in background searches. It’ll give you a clear idea of what your employer will see.
Now that you know what kinds of checks you can run yourself, let’s go more in depth and see how you should run them.
Searching Online Public Records Databases
Public records databases reveal if you have a criminal record. A criminal record may also show up if your name is similar to a convict’s, which could confuse employers. While public records databases don’t have all records, they still contain a lot of valuable information. You can search online public records by following these steps:
Check all available national databases and public records. This includes national sex offender registries, the global terrorism database, the FBI’s fingerprint database, and state and federal criminal databases. You can find county and state criminal records by searching your county’s or state’s court records. For federal cases, you can use the online index for federal court records.
Look at your records and make sure no items belong to someone with a similar name.
If something is incorrect, be prepared to dispute it.
How much does it cost? The majority of this search is free. However, the FBI’s fingerprint database and some state websites charge a fee for access. The federal courts index also charges a fee if you view too many documents. Is it difficult to do? No, it’s actually pretty easy. You just type your name in a database. Is it worth it? Yes, it’s useful because many employers check record databases.
But, public records only show the public face of a person. To get the full picture, employers search online to find out what someone is like in their everyday life. With that in mind, it’s time to search your social media.
Searching Social Media
Social media has become a massive concern for employers. One post or comment can cause a firestorm of bad press. So, it’s no wonder that 70 percent of employers run a social media search during the hiring process. This makes social media searches a bright idea for any job applicant. Here’s how you can conduct a social media search on yourself:
Google your name and current home state to see what results pop up. If anything unsavory turns up, you’ll need to clean up your online presence. You can do this yourself or hire a company to deal with it.
Look at all your social media profiles. Do they look professional? Are the pictures and comments appropriate?
If something looks dodgy, delete it or make your account private. You can also hire a company to clean up your search results if you think it’s necessary.
How much does it cost? Social media searches are free. You can clean up your online profiles for free or hire someone to do it for you. Is it difficult to do? No, just search for yourself and look over your social media profiles. Pay attention to photos and comments associated with your profile. Is it worth it? Yes, a professional online presence is essential to impress employers.
Now that you’ve done your online searches, you’ll need to start doing things in person or over the phone. The first thing you need to check in person is your court records.
Searching Court Records
As nice as it’d be to have a national criminal database containing every criminal record, it doesn’t exist. Many individual courthouses have criminal records unavailable anywhere else. That makes comprehensive criminal record checks a priority for both employers and employees. Here’s how you can search court records online and in person:
Compile a list of courthouses with jurisdiction where you live.
Check if the relevant courthouses have their records available online. If not, visit each courthouse in person to request your record.
Inspect your records. Review the details to ensure everything is correct.
If anything is incorrect on your records, be prepared to dispute it with the court. You can file this yourself or consult a lawyer.
How much does it cost? Some courts charge access fees for criminal records, but fees are economical. Is it difficult to do? It’s more difficult than the other background checks. Visiting individual courthouses in person takes time and effort. Is it worth it? Yes, if you have a criminal record.
After a trip to your local courthouses, it’s time to pick up the phone and make some calls. Let’s review your references.
Reviewing Your References
Verifying references, work history, and education is crucial for employers. It’s also handy for you. Some job applicants can’t remember the date they started their last job or graduated from college. Reviewing these details ensures you have the right answer to any application question. You can review your references by following these steps:
Call your work references and ask them about your work history. Confirm your position, duties, start and end dates, and the date of any promotion you received.
Call your high school and postsecondary school. Ask them for a copy of your records and verify that everything is correct. Some schools also allow you to request your records online.
If something is wrong, alert the school and have them fix it.
How much does it cost? Reviewing references doesn’t cost a thing. But, certain colleges charge a fee for sending transcripts. Is it difficult? No, you just have to make some phone calls. Is it worth it? Yes, reviewing references confirms important details on your application.
Now that you’ve called around, you’ll have to fill out some forms to request your credit report.
Your Credit Report
Credit reports show how fiscally responsible you are. They’re usually run for financial jobs, but because they are so easy to get, you may want to request it anyway. Here are some tips for running a credit report on yourself:
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the three nationwide credit reporting companies provide you with a free copy of your credit report upon your request. You can order a copy from each company once a year. That means you can get three free reports.
To order the report, fill in your name, date of birth, social security number, and home address. You might need to verify some personal information, like an old address or phone number, to access your report.
If you see something suspicious on your report, call the credit reporting company to ask about it. You could be a victim of identity theft.
How much does it cost? It’s free. Additional credit reports may cost a small fee. Is it difficult? No, you just fill out a form online. Is it worth it? Yes, if you’re looking for a financial job.
While you can run all these background checks yourself, it takes a lot of time and effort. Can using a background check company cut down on the hassle?
Use a Reputable Background Check Company
Using a background check company will cut down on the time and work you need to do a background check. That’s why most employers hire a reliable background check company. If you want to see what your employer sees, use a screening company and review their results. You can find the right screening company by answering these questions:
Are they Fair Credit Reporting Act certified? Certification ensures the company only includes information that is legally allowed.
Can they explain what policies they use to ensure legal compliance? Screening companies should be able to educate you on their legal compliance measures.
Do they verify all their results? Use a business that double-checks their reports.
Do they allow you to run a background check on yourself? Although it’s legal to run a background check on yourself, not all businesses offer this service.
How much does it cost? Screening companies have different price points, but the cost is typically under $100. Is it difficult? No, but it can take some time to find the right company. Is it worth it? Yes, using a background check company shows you what your employer will see. It simplifies your work by offering all the checks you need in one place.
But, what checks should you run through a screening company?
Order a Variety of Background Checks
The job you apply for determines which background checks you should run. Focus on checks related to the job you want. Here are some of the most common background checks:
Criminal records check. Criminal checks go from the county level to state, national, and international. Many employers run a criminal check that looks at every place you’ve lived.
Sex offender. A sex offender check reports if you’re a registered sex offender.
Identity verification. Verification establishes your identity and is typically the first check done.
Education verification.Request this check when applying for a job that requires a certain level of education or a postsecondary degree.
Reference check and work history.Most employers run this check for jobs that require experience.
Professional license check.Some jobs, like a medical doctor, require a professional license. This check verifies that you have the right license.
Credit report.This checks your history of financial accounts, loans, bankruptcies, and foreclosures.
Driving record check.For jobs that involve driving, a driving record check looks at your driving history and class of license.
Now that you’ve run all the checks you need, what should you do with the results?
Double-Check the Results
Verify that everything is true. If anything’s wrong, dispute it with the background check company. Make sure that they change any incorrect information. After the screening company investigates, they should send you the corrected results.
If something is true but isn’t flattering, be ready to explain the circumstances to your prospective employer. Prepare yourself for any questions they may ask about it.
Running background checks seems like a lot of work. Is all this really worth it?
Is Running a Background Check on Yourself Worth It?
Running a background check does take effort, but it prepares you for what your employer will find. You will be able to handle any issues that come up. You will also be prepared to answer tough questions related to your background check results.
Background checks show you if something is inaccurate. You can then resolve incorrect information before it panics your prospective employer. It also reminds you about details and facts you’ll need for your job application, like exact work dates and official duties.
Doing a background check in advance improves your chances of getting the job you want. So, which screening company is best for your needs?
Check Yourself Out
Plenty of employers run background checks, and most get fantastic benefits from it. Get in on the benefits by running your own background check first.
We’ve seen how you can run a background check on your own and with a background check company. While you can find a lot of the same information by doing your own background check, it takes more time. The various fees can also add up. Contracting a background check company to do the checking for you will save you time and money.
A screening company also includes only the information that your employer can see. They don’t include just any old record floating around online. But, where can you find the best company to run a background check on yourself?
At Trusted Employees, we offer self-background checks. We can help you decide what background checks fit your employment needs and interpret the results for you. Contact us today to learn more.
Robyn Kunz is the Chief Compliance Officer at Trusted Employees. She has worked in the background screening industry for over 15 years and holds Advanced Certification in the Fair Credit Reporting Act from the National Association of Professional Background.
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