Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations. Please note that you are strictly prohibited from using BeenVerified to screen a potential employee and certain other purposes. See more about allowed uses of this product here.
It is to be expected that people meeting for the first time will often do some due diligence beforehand, whether the context is dating, business proposals or otherwise. Prospective employers are no different, researching job candidates before extending an offer, whether it be to call and check references listed on an application, or use a FCRA-accredited, compliant service like Goodhire.com. So before planning that next meeting or beginning your job search, in addition to updating your portfolio, powerpoint or resume, it’s probably prudent to see some of what others may learn when researching you. Once you do land a meeting or interview, what do those with whom you’ll meet look for – and what might they find on you that could hurt your prospects?
When being considered for a role, most companies, large and small, will want to interview you and likely follow up that meeting by running a formal background search. This is a standard practice across many industries and companies, including major retailers like Target and Walmart and the law requires that they use a FCRA-accredited pre-employment background screening process, which can cover a great deal, so it’s best to be prepared before that day arrives.
What Do Employers Look for in a Formal Pre-Employment Background Screening and What Can You Do Before that Day Comes?
When an employer runs a candidate background check via a FCRA-approved pre-employment background screening, they’re typically looking for criminal records, education, employment history, credit history, driving records, and civil litigation records (although the Fair Credit Reporting Act places a statute of limitations on viewing certain records if the check is conducted through a third-party agency). Negative results in one of these categories won’t necessarily preclude you from consideration for a job if you’re upfront and honest about it, but employers want to make sure that you’re not lying about or hiding something on your application.
Many hiring managers also do their own preliminary online research on a candidate before interviewing them – 70 percent admit to looking up applicants’ social media profiles, according to CareerBuilder. For creative jobs where the employee might be sharing or discussing their work on personal social media accounts, companies want to ensure that the people connected to its brand have a “clean” and professional online presence.
While companies (and individuals for that matter) are not legally allowed to use general public records search tools like BeenVerified to screen prospective employees, you are free to use these tools to search yourself so that you may see what possible items and notable information may come up and thereby better anticipate, or better yet, avoid, unpleasant surprises down the road.
Polishing Your Online Presence Before a Job Search
Beyond the information in your background check report, it’s important that you are presented in the best light possible were a potential employer to run a Google search on you. First, you’ll want to update your LinkedIn profile. With more than 500 million global users, LinkedIn is easily the most popular professional networking site. It’s one of the first stops employers may take in their informal online research, and your profile essentially serves as an enhanced digital resume.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you can create one for free and start filling in your current and past employment and education details. If you already have one, review it to make sure everything is up-to-date, including a semi-professional headshot. You can add website links, upload files, and include special skills to really make your profile stand out.
In your self-background review, you may also stumble upon some old – and potentially embarrassing – social media accounts and/or posts, which you may have forgotten about or not known that others posted. You probably don’t want a future boss unearthing those cringe-worthy Facebook posts from your college days, so now is a good time to consider how you can clean it up. Posts with controversial or inappropriate content, including photos of drug and alcohol use, would be wisely removed (or at least untagged, when they’re not your posts). You may also consider tightening up your privacy settings to make sure that only the most basic information is visible to the public.
No matter what information is in your public records, it’s better to look yourself up and know for sure what might be found there. If you spot something incorrect, you can try and take steps to rectify it before you start setting up meetings, applying for jobs, or preparing other plans, rather than risk facing a needlessly awkward situation later on.