Often when applying for a new job we know a background check is inevitable. Whether or not you have convictions or legal worries in your past, passing that check can still be worrisome.
Luckily, you can verify your own legal records to see what your potential future employer might find. If there’s negative, inaccurate information, you can then correct the legal record before it unnecessarily holds you back.
Of course, you should always be honest about your legal records with a potential employer or else it could come back to haunt you.
Here are a few tips to prepare for your background check.
1. Obtain Copies of Court Legal Records
If you’ve ever been involved in any legal proceedings, like a lawsuit or divorce, these records will be available. Of course, this also applies if you’ve ever been in trouble with the law.
The process to obtain copies of your civil and criminal court records does vary from state to state though. In some cases, legal records are available online, but not all. However, your county clerk should be able to help you find what you need regardless. Additionally, it’s worth noting you may be required to pay a small fee.
Once you have your legal records in hand, check them for inaccuracies.
If there’s an arrest or conviction that shouldn’t be there, it may be possible to have it expunged. Some incidents that occurred when you were a minor could possibly be wiped from your legal record.
2. Download Your Credit Report
Just like your court records, you can also obtain a copy of your credit report. If you’ve given your potential employer permission, they can see all this information as well.
Your credit report will include personal details as well as how you are about paying bills and what you owe. It will also show if you’ve ever filed bankruptcy.
Once a year, all credit reporting agencies are required by law to provide a free copy of your report. Make sure you request copies from all three – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
If you find inaccuracies, you can contact the agency (or agencies) reporting it and ask that it be corrected.
3. Update Your Digital Security Settings
Credit reports and criminal and legal records aside, your online presence is also significantly important.
Make sure you know what comes up on Google if you search your name. If there’s something negative, you may need to contact the respective site’s administrator to have it removed.
Additionally, make sure your social media accounts have strict privacy settings. However, no matter how you have those set, a good rule of thumb is to watch what you post.
If you don’t want a potential employer seeing it, don’t put it on the internet.
4. Verify Professional Credentials
If you hold any licenses or certificates, make sure they’re up to date and verifiable. Check with any issuing states or agencies to ensure their records match yours.
Also, ensure all your references information is correct as well. Be sure to contact anyone you’ve listed to ensure you still have the right details for them. Plus, it’s best to give them a heads up anyway in case they get a call about you.
5. Know What to Expect
First of all, it’s important to know your rights – and what’s not in your record. There are several things on the basis of which an employer cannot discriminate, including political affiliation. While that information should not be in your records, it may be visible via your online presence. In some states, it’s also public record if you are affiliated with a certain political party.
Workers compensation claims also do not show up in background checks, though the information may be publicly available.
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against, you should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at EEOC.gov.
Also, if you’re not hired due to your background check, it is within your rights to ask for a copy. The employer must provide you with the report as well as information for the agency that conducted it.
6. Be Prepared to Discuss Your Background
However, you should be prepared to truthfully discuss anything that’s found in a background check.
There is some information in your background check that an employer can’t use to justify not hiring you. However, if something indicates you wouldn’t be able to perform the job well, that can be used against you.
Be ready to explain any arrests and how you’ve changed since they occurred.