So Just Why Do Employers Do a Background Check?
Preemployment background checks are becoming increasingly prevalent in the work place as the majority of new hires are now prescreened. You may ask yourself, why is this necessary and how does it affect me as a job seeker? The reality is that when you are hired by a company, you and your actions are a representation of that firm, and they want to make sure what they know about you is correct before they make you a part of their team.
Background checks make for a safer environment for everyone on the job as they focus on qualifications and clean histories related to the job you are performing. For instance – if everyone at a bank has had their credit history and criminal history screened, others working alongside will be more confident knowing their fellow employees do not have a shady background. As most workplace theft takes place from the inside, it is a preventative measure against future acts of theft, certifying your fellow employees against potential criminal acts, as the company is liable for what you do while working for them.
Background checks are also a test of honesty in a potential employee – they can find out if you are who you have stated you are on your resume. If someone overstates their qualifications – for instance an engineer or medical professional, the safety of others can be jeopardized if they are not certified professionally in their field. They verify credentials and bring up red flags that are not apparent in a job interview. If all have been veted, then the environment of trust in your fellow workers can develop, as assuming all players are on the same field can be validated through a check. This also helps companies treat their customers fairly, providing people who are verified to perform services they are purchasing in confidence.
An employer who does not take the time to screen new hires places their reputation at risk and can be deemed legally negligent if they put responsibility into the hands of an ill-suited employee. Background investigations can also include drug testing and checks for criminal history. For instance – if a fork lift operator did not have a drug screening and then caused an accident while under the influence, the company is liable. Further, they would be seen to have been negligent in hiring the driver without checking out their chemical levels and substance use history.
As past actions are often a predictor of future behavior, background checks are a way for companies to verify a new hire will seamlessly fit into their environment and prevent distraction from the productivity of the workforce and company goals. Potential employers will sometimes contact a current or former employer to verify their work habits, see if there is a history of misconduct, and determine general hire ability in order to ensure they are a good fit for their company.
There are many types and levels of background checks run by employers in order to reduce the risk of hiring a new person, and differing laws depending on the state or country. Determining factors include the type of position and are usually more extensive for higher earning positions; most go back a minimum of 7 years. Government and Federal positions often go even deeper in their levels of investigation and require fingerprints and personal vetting. While almost all look into education, employment history, criminal/civil records and professional licenses, additional layers such as credit history and salary checks are added depending on the level of trust and skills required for a position.
So, when you are asked for permission by an employer to provide personal details so they can conduct a background check, be assured they are not only trying to protect themselves but also providing safety for you, coworkers and your customers.