Background checks can sound a little ominous, especially if you haven’t ever had one before. In reality, they are nothing more than a routine part of most jobs, designed to protect the company or landlord and make sure that you will be the best fit. While not common, there are people out there who will embellish their resumes or omit important details. So what do you need to know about background checks?
For a potential employer or landlord to run a background check, they need your full name, your birth date, and your social security number. They usually won’t ask for anything else. This may seem like a lot of information, but don’t let that worry you. This is information that they will require if you do get the job, and there are protections put in place to keep your information secure.
This is the most common form of background checks. Potential employers want to make sure that you will fit in at their company and that you are telling the truth about your background and credentials. Employment screenings look at your criminal history, character references, identity verification, and education verification. Contrary to popular belief, these background checks do not include drug testing. Drug testing, while often asked for as well, is done separately.
Tenant screening is also fairly popular and almost always required when signing a rental agreement. This allows a landlord to protect themselves and their property from people who will damage the property, not pay their rent, or may get up to criminal mischief while living there. This background check generally looks at criminal history, credit reports, and references or past landlords.
You may be worried that your consideration will be impacted by things such as your political views, religious beliefs, or other lifestyle choices that can easily be found online. Social media has made the world much smaller, and personal information more readily available. With the information you are required to give for a background check, it wouldn’t be hard to find you online and learn a lot about you. There are even full websites dedicated to searching Internet records for various people. However, many of these things fall under protected classes, and it is illegal to make a decision based on these personal factors. It could be interesting to look up yourself on one of these websites and see what information is out there.
It may seem a little scary, but there is nothing to worry about when it comes to background checks, especially if you are honest. Even if your record isn’t squeaky clean, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from the job or the apartment. Just be honest and let your current actions speak for you more than your past.
Jenn Montgomery is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger based in San Diego. She writes on a variety of topics and enjoys learning new things. She graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and knitting. You can contact her on Twitter.