You sent in your resume and nailed this interview for your dream job. Now you have learned that you have reached the last step: the background check. So why a background check? Employers conduct background checks to protect themselves from potential risks. In the new position, you may have access to financial or personal information about customers or other sensitive information. Employers use a background check to determine if you are dealing appropriately with this information. How long a background check lasts depends on the type of background check you are doing.
What is a background check?
Potential employers can familiarize themselves with your progress and use the information found to determine whether you are suitable for a job offer or a promotion. The background check varies depending on the type of job. They usually include a criminal background check and credit report. Employers can also confirm your training background, check your driving data, and check your social media posts. For government jobs, employers can also interview friends and family members for a more in-depth look at your background.
What does a background check show?
A credit report shows your credit history. It can include entries such as late payments, collection accounts, bankruptcies, and student loan defaults. Bankruptcies can be reported for 10 years and accounts in the collection can be reported for up to seven years.
When your potential employer checks social media, all publicly available posts will be visible. Everything that is found about you in an online search is visible to a potential employer.
If you are concerned about what might come up during a background check, you can get a feel for what employers might find if you do your own research. If you have had a lawsuit in the past, you can get a copy of the court arrest records and make sure they are correct. You can also get copies of your credit report and confirm that the information is correct. If the information is inaccurate, report it to the credit bureaus to correct it. Check your social media presence and hide posts that may be offensive or misunderstood by a potential employer.
How long does a background check take?
When you’re ready to start a new position, it may feel like torture waiting for your background check to come back. Background checks usually don’t take very long. A basic criminal background check and a credit check can be done in two to three days. Many employers hire contractors to perform these checks, so it can take a day or two for the report to be retrieved from the field office.
Background checks can take longer if the employer has trouble getting the reports. For example, you may have misspelled your date of birth or social security number or may have to wait for court records. Interviewing friends or family with your potential employer or the external agency they have hired can extend the duration to a week or more.