If you plan to apply for a new job, you can almost bet your bottom dollar that a potential employer will run a background check on you. If you’re single, there’s a high chance that your future Mr. or Mrs. Right will at the very least put your name into their internet browser before your first date.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know what kind of information is attached to your name. For this reason, it pays to run a background check on yourself so that you can clear up any misconceptions.
What Is a Background Check?
A background check is simply the process of looking into a person’s history. The information obtained might include criminal records, driving records, copies of school transcripts, and the legal status for working in a particular industry. For example, a convicted sex offender cannot work at a school.
The information that turns up in a background screening depends on the kind of check you perform. In general, a background check can reveal your employment history, information on vehicle accidents you’ve been involved in, and even your loan repayment history.
Employers perform background checks to make sure the people they plan to hire are who they say they are and have the skills, education, and qualifications to warrant the salary they’re requesting. If they find a falsehood in your employee background check before hiring you, you can be denied employment, and if they wait to perform a background check until after you start work, you can lose your job if they find something unsettling.
Background Information and Housing
If you plan to buy a home or rent an apartment, it’s important that you know your credit score and whether or not you have a criminal history. Having a history of late payments can also stop a mortgage or rental agreement in its tracks. In a home-buying scenario, your background check might also alsert your lender to a recent job change or red flags regarding your bank accounts. When you know what’s out there ahead of time, you’ll have an opportunity to explain any concerning findings, such as a large deposit into your checking account not directly associated with your income.
Similarly, your criminal history is important when looking for a home to rent, because your housing application might be denied if criminal charges show up in your tenant background check. Knowing ahead of time what might show up will give you a chance to preemptively make an appeal on your own behalf.
Perhaps the most pressing reason to perform a background check on yourself is to ensure that the information contained within it actually pertains to you. Mistakes happen, and cases of mistaken identity — when a background check pulls up criminal or other information about someone with a similar name — can be tough to handle. This can occur when another person has a similar name and birthday as you.
Running a background check on yourself can also help you determine areas where you might need to fill in gaps on a job application. You might, for example, find that a past employer is no longer in business. If you plan to use this job as a reference, this will give you a chance to track down former supervisors or coworkers and get their current contact information.
How Important Is Your Credit History?
Credit history is obviously important when it comes to taking out a loan or renting a place to live, but most employers will also take a quick glance at this section of your background check. While a bad credit score isn’t necessarily an issue that would prevent you from getting a job, it might come into play if you work in financial services or the government.
How to Run a Self-Check
The easiest way to do a background check on yourself is to contract with a service. However, if you want to dive deep into local records and the internet, you can do a background check online and obtain most information on your own. Try searching court records, contacting work references, and getting a copy of your credit report. You can also request a copy of your DMV record, school transcripts, and medical records. While it’s time consuming, you can also look back through your social media profiles to identify anything you might not want lingering out in the open.
Regardless of your reasons, it’s wise to get a heads up about the information available to the public about you. Whether you are looking for a job, renting an apartment, or pursuing a new love interest, what you don’t know about yourself can hurt you.