Background Check Selfie: Good for Job Seekers, Employers Beware
November 20, 2013
There’s been a great new trend among job seekers conducting personal background checks on themselves so that they can find out what prospective employers might find when they run their own employment background check. Business Insider recently published a great article on the benefits of personal background checks and warned that,
“While most job seekers spend hours polishing their resume and choosing their interview attire, most don’t give much thought to background checks. But ignoring what might pop up on a criminal or credit background check is a mistake that could spell the end of your dream job.”
Knowing the information that will turn up on an employee background check can ease the concerns many job candidates have about the process, identify problematic information, or highlight inaccurate data that needs correcting. Some do it because they know they have got a ghost or two in their closet and they wonder if it will turn up. Others know they don’t have anything to hide but have heard enough horror stories about shoddy employee background checks which reveal criminal records that belong to someone else with the same name. And many want to know what past employers might say if contacted by or on behalf of a prospective employer.
While I think this is a great service for job seekers, employers should absolutely not accept the results on a personal background check and forego their own. I know that’s a strong statement from me, considering that we offer this product to job seekers (for more info check out www.transparentme.com.) However, there are too many things that a job seeker who has something to hide can do to make it appear as if there are no red flags. For instance, most self-service background check platforms rely on the user to indicate where they have lived. If they know that a conviction will turn up in that particular county, they can simply select another county where they know there is no record. Another trick is to provide a false date of birth. There’s a 90% chance that using the wrong date of birth will immediately throw off the criminal background check and ensure that a record will not be found. How about alias names? If a person was convicted under a different name then they provided, the record is most likely to remain hidden.
Thinking about this, the reason that an employer shouldn’t trust a personal background check provided by a job seeker, no matter how reputable the background screening company might be, is the same reason they don’t trust just a resume anymore. Everything needs to be thoroughly vetted. An employer-driven background check can guard against all of these deceptions and more. Employers can and should always ask for a valid form of identification that confirms the date of birth. They should run an address history search (social security number trace) to confirm past addresses and names the person has used.
Bottom line, personal background checks are still a worthy investment for job seekers even though employers shouldn’t pay much attention to them. Just don’t purchase them with the idea that an employer will bypass their own process if you share your results with them.