6 Background Screening Myths – Busted!
- Past employers cannot legally state anything negative about an applicant.
False. A past employer can state anything they choose – as long as it is true and accurate. If an applicant was constantly late, stole from the company, or simply did not get along well with others, that information is permissible to be transferred. However, if the employment was seven or more years ago, it cannot be reported on the screening report nor affect the applicant’s job offer.
- An applicant’s criminal history bars them from ever getting a job other than fast food or retail.
False. First, the answer to this myth depends on exactly what lies within an applicant’s criminal history. While there are companies who refuse to hire applicants due to a criminal history, this is actually the minority. A business’ decision whether or not to hire anyone with a criminal past is dependent on a few factors. Was the applicant honest about his/her transgression? Was the crime committed many years ago? Civil suits and judgments over seven years prior to the date of application are not allowed to be reported on a background screening. The best policy for people with a criminal history seeking jobs is to be honest and upfront about their history. Having smoked marijuana once 27 years ago isn’t necessarily going to bar someone from obtaining a job.
- A Google search constitutes a thorough background check.
False. While there is potential to uncover some information on an applicant through Google, most information necessary and pertinent to a background screening cannot be obtained through Google. Background screening is a very sensitive and delicate process surrounded by many laws. It is best to hire a professional company with a continual, working knowledge of these laws and processes.
- Few companies require a background screening to complete the on-boarding process.
False. Many of today’s companies require an applicant to pass a background screening in order to become a member of their team. This especially holds true for applicants who will be dealing with money, children, sensitive information, or clients in their own homes.
- There is a national database of criminal, employment, and education records.
False. Due to the rising popularity of detective shows such as NCIS, Law and Order, and Bones, this myth is becoming more difficult to dispel. On these shows it appears that whenever they have a suspect after a few clicks, swipes, and keystrokes they have all possible information on that particular subject. No! Doing a thorough background screening necessitates a lot of legwork and attention to detail.
- A one-time background check is enough; why bother with recurrent screenings?
False. Anyone is capable of changing their conduct over time – Martha Stewart was 63 when she was convicted of her first crime. Recurrent screenings verify that professionals employed by a company have not had a change of heart or have the potential to cause harm to business, clients, or co-workers.