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Get ready for an employment background check

When you are seeking employment or about to start a new job, it’s a great idea to  be ready for a background check. This will give you control over the whole process, avoid any unnecessary stress and demonstrates proactivity as well as saving time for you and your recruiter.

Background checking is a growing practice among employers and the reason why is very simple –  they want to know who’s working for them. Proving the candidates identity and that they have the necessary experience and qualifications to perform their job are the main considerations. And it’s not just new recruit that employers like to check. It is now increasingly common for employers to undertake regular “reviews” of employees to screen for criminal history or changes in financial data. Healthcare and financial service workers have gone through extra screening for years, but the practice of running periodic checks or continuous checks is spreading to other sectors, including manufacturing and retailing.

There is an increasing pressure to root out workers who might steal, harass or even commit violent acts in the workplace.

But let’s start from the beginning……

What is an employment background check?

A background check is a review of a person’s identity, professional, commercialcriminal, and (occasionally) financial records. Background checks are quite common both for recruitment purposes, and also to keep a track of current employees

Up to 70% of employers require employees to undergo background checks before hiring.

Some companies only screen certain groups: finance, HR and legal department applicants are the most checked. It is unusual to check everyone in  in the creative fields.

However, some companies check everyone they hire.  These companies often work with the government or deal with public contracts. They are required to conduct a full background check on all of their employees.

Some companies will even check their candidates’ social media. They say it gives a glimpse into the real personality of the candidate. However, there’s a question as to whether that is appropriate or if it is an invasion of privacy.

What is the purpose of my background check?

First of all, the recruiter or employer will need you to provide consent to run a background check.

Once that consent has been given the employer will run through a series of checks – lets look at these in more detail:

1. Employment History Verification

Reference checking is a significant part of the background checking process. Confirming that you actually worked where you say you have worked is fundamental.  It also evidences that you are the right candidate for the role.

It is very important to gather secure, digitised and verified references.

2. Identity and Right to Work

Employers are required to verify the identity and the right to work for all new employees.

When new employees are hired, they are required to prove they are who they say they are, and that they have the right to work in the UK (or in whuchever country they are looking for work).

This is normally checked via:

  • Passport or driver’s licence
  • Proof of address
  • National Insurance Number

3. Qualifications & certifications

The new employer needs to make sure you are truthful about the qualifications, skills and professional certifications that you include in your CV.

It is estimated that up over 40% of resumes can contain false or “tweaked” information.

The employer can even perform a background check to find out whether you graduated from the university you said you did or to confirm that you did in fact work for your previous employer.

Employers need to ensure that they are getting an employee who is who (and what) they claim to be. Once hired, any mistakes or qualification fraud can reflect badly on the employer and may result in a failed compliance audit, loss of contract or even criminal charges. 

These checks protect employers from any liability issues. In some cases employers can be held responsible for negligence, or failing to do the required research on their employees.

For example, if a doctor is hired and the necessary checks aren’t completed, if it is later found that this person had lied about their identity, qualifications or skills, the fall-out can be significant, and is often payed out in the media. There are obvious concerns about patient safety, but also data protection, compliance standards etc. In these cases the NHS can be held responsible for an unsafe hire. The expectation is that the hospital checks the information and background of EVERY candidate before hiring.

4. Credit History checks

With the permission of the job applicant or employee, employers will check the candidates credit history. In roles where money and financial information is involved, bad credit can cause problems. Perhaps suggestive of the candidate is not able to manage their own finances or makes poor decisions. This would cause obvious concerns for someone working in the financial sector.

5. Criminal Records

An employer needs to check the candidate’s criminal record if they’ll be working in healthcare or with children. The check in the UK is known as  a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

While some information identified by your background check may be a legitimate  concern to employers, these checks cannot be used as an excuse  for discriminatory hiring.  And employers must request background checks of ALL applicants eqyually, regardless of race or gender. For example, it would be illegal to check the criminal records of male job candidates but not female. Or of only foreign nationals.

Employers cannot use the information to discriminate against you. It is discrimination to make hiring decisions based on race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, and age.

When does a background check take place?

The checks are usually undertaken in the last stages of the hiring process – either just before the company offers the candidate a job or immediately after the candidate has accepted the position. In the latter, the job offer becomes dependent on the employee passing the background check requirements.

In some cases new starts have been “let go” from positions where their background check was found to be satisfactory after their probationary period.

Employees being considered for promotion

It is not unusual to undertake a new background check on someone going forward for promotion.

And some companies will conduct new background checks annually or every few years to all employees.

The logic behind this is that it is better to be safe than sorry! After all –  employees are fundamental to the image of the company. And  the more senior the employees’ role,  the more serious the impact there can be if wrong-doing is found. This is why it is absolutely vital to undertake a comprehensive background check before announcing any new promotions within the company.

Manage your own digitised candidate passport

SureCert is a digital platform that enables you to source, store and share verified background information about yourself in digital form, in a way that can help you to be recruited quicker. Additionally, any background checks that an employer or recruiter want to undertake will be faster to complete  -which is a benefit to both parties and will reflect well on you as the prospective candidate.

SureCert does this by allowing you to create, update and manage your own secure candidate passport.

Creating a candidate passport involves:

  1. Developing your own suite of verified information, including job references, CPD, qualifications, etc.
  2. You can either start creating it by yourself or by invite from an employer or recruiter.
  3. Your consent is gathered by opt-in, including clear T&C, all GDPR compliant.
  4. Adding or updating your information (eg. when a certificate expires) when required.
  5. Sharing or revoking access to their information, when it is no longer required.

Create your own SureCert profile here!