If you’re not familiar with or have any knowledge of the many benefits that background checks provide to businesses, then it is completely understandable why you may feel intimidated by them. Background checks are a tool that businesses have leveraged and relied on during these times of economic uncertainty. There are a lot of misconceptions about background checks, that are often perpetrated by individuals who don’t fully understand the significant role they play in maintaining employee safety, organizational culture, and brand reputation.
In our blogs "How background screening can help improve your brand reputation" and "Background checks help your business save money in the long run", we outlined the many benefits that background checks provide, from a business perspective. But from a candidate’s perspective, background checks continue to be a wary topic.
Many people are not aware that background screening is beneficial to them and provides key insight into an organization. In this blog, we will be addressing some common questions or concerns that candidates have about background checks and why it is important for both employers and candidates to use them.
Candidates get a sneak peek into their potential employer
The candidate experience is more than just checking boxes and answering questions. It’s about figuring out the tone and the ethics of the company to see if they align with your values.
According to Glassdoor, nearly 56% of job seekers look up information online during the hiring process to learn about the company culture and to get insight into the employee experience. When a company asks you to complete a background check, it can provide you with insight into how they value both their culture and employee safety. If you're required to conduct a background check when applying for a position, ask yourself these questions to see if the organization aligns with what you're looking for in your next employer:
- Do they truly value a positive work culture?
- Do their employees trust each other?
- Does this organization focus on creating a safe environment for employees?
- Are you able to confide in your co-workers?
- Is this organization focused on protecting its employees from violence?
- Does this employer care about their public reputation?
When you ask critical questions about the candidate’s experience at an organization and the true intentions of their culture and priority of employee security, you'll know more about an organization than any review online.
Don’t sell yourself short
There are a variety of situations in which you might not want to have certain information released. If a potential employer is about to do a background check, it’s always better to know ahead of time what’s going to be found. It might be great to go ahead to get a background check done on yourself, even before your potential employer does, especially if you are concerned about what may be found when a search is conducted.
A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) found that a vast majority of hiring professionals working in the HR industry are open and willing to work with those who may have a criminal record. Being aware of a background check can prevent you from losing out on a job opportunity if a minor issue was brought up by the search before you had the chance to explain yourself.
With more than 50% of employers conducting background checks as part of their standard hiring procedure, according to one CareerBuilder survey, it is always recommended that candidates be as transparent as possible. Beginning the interview process with an honest mindset will allow for a professional relationship between you and the organization to be built off of trust.
People can change
When you’re applying for a job it’s important to know that up to 95% of employers require a candidate to undergo a background check during the hiring process. The best way to be prepared in this situation is to be transparent and honest with yourself about what has happened in your life.
During the hiring process, it's much easier for a company to work with you if they know the facts about your past so there are no surprises or misunderstandings. Rita Friedman, a Philadelphia career coach states, “There’s no need to over-explain” when it comes to background checks. She recommends that if you are worried about what could potentially show on a report, you should be proactive and run a background check prior to the employer to be aware of what could potentially show up.
By taking responsibility for your actions and having the motivation to move forward, you can demonstrate to an employer that you are influenced by positive values. Reassure them that you're aware of any mistakes you've made and you've learned from them by providing them with action items on how you are working towards your personal development.
Transparency is the best policy, especially when it comes to a background check. In a job interview, it's much easier for a company to work with you and know you as an individual if they know the facts about your past so there are no surprises.
Background checks are beneficial to both employers and candidates who are going through the hiring process because they can provide key insight. Don’t get intimidated if an employer asks you to complete a background check — use it to your advantage by preparing ahead of time and knowing what to expect.
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