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Employment Expertise: The facts about background checks


You aced the interview and your potential employer tells you the next step is to run a background check.

The good news is that you are a top candidate if they are willing to invest in a background check. The bad news is, if you haven’t been completely honest about the information on your application or resume, they can find it and there will be no job offer.

A background check is a routine step in the hiring process for many companies. The most common background checks are reference checks, employment and education history and criminal background reports.

Reference Checks: Personal references can help employers understand both your skills for the job and your fit with the company. Choose your references wisely. While it may be tempting to ask your best friend or a family member, don’t. Choose someone who can speak to what it’s like to work with you in a positive manner. Be sure to ask potential references for their permission first. It will look better to potential employers if your references are expecting the call and know about the job you applied for.

Employment and Education History: Potential employers will verify your work history with past employers listed on your application or resume. They may even contact the educational institutions to verify your training or degrees. If you experienced a gap in employment or completed three years of college but didn’t graduate, be up front about it. It is much better to clarify any issues ahead of time than for the employer to discover discrepancies.

Criminal Background Reports: Criminal background reports are most often done when the position requires working with children, money or sensitive data. Don’t worry; a speeding ticket shouldn’t cost you the job, unless you’re applying for a driving position. Employers are only supposed to rule out a potential candidate with a criminal record if there is a business reason for doing so. Tell the truth about any criminal history before the background check. Not only will you show the employer you are honest, you also have the opportunity to explain the situation and describe what you have learned.

— Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center. ###

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