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How Employers Use Background Checks

Sending out resume after resume, but not getting any calls back for interviews? Wondering why your stellar experience and qualifications aren't getting you past the initial interview process? If either of these scenarios is familiar, you may want to conduct a background check on yourself - and you may not like what you find.

Effective January 2013, all employers conducting background checks are required by law to disclose their intentions to do so, and to seek written permission from the potential employee. The new guidelines fall under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Employers who fail to abide by the rules of the act are subject to fines from the FTC.

In the digital age, more and more employers are obtaining potential employee's approval, and with their consent conducting background checks before they extend a job offer. Financial companies may, for instance, wish to know if a potential employee has ever been arrested for theft before bringing them into their employ. A business which works with children in any capacity would want to be sure that any potential employee has never been suspected of or convicted of any child-abuse-related crime.

In addition to a background check, employers may search for other information about potential employees. Another popular source of information is a credit report. Like a background check, a credit report can only be conducted with a person's consent and authorization. A potential employer would have to seek your permission before doing it, thereby making you aware that the process is happening.

According to a report issued by EmployeeScreenIQ, 21 percent of the 738 respondents said they conducted credit checks on potential employees - a 15 percent increase over the previous year. However, four states now limit the use of credit checks during the hiring process. They are Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington.

Employers also like to check a person's education and work history to ensure they truly meet the qualifications for the job. With cases of "inflated" resumes on the rise, employers want to be sure that you truly have the education and experience you say you do. However, some states have confidentiality laws which prohibit the release of education records, military service records and medical records without a person's express written permission. If an employer intends to conduct such research, they will be required to seek your permission first.

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