Clean Up Your Digital Dirt

Do you really know everything about your own history?

Did you know that 44% of all employers check social networking sites? Potential employers can readily access certain aspects of your past and if you do not know what is out there on record keep reading. Is your resume trustworthy and does it account for gaps in employment? Does your information align in ALL your documents and profiles?

Why do employers conduct background checks?  Employers are concerned with negligent hiring practices. They confirm potentially false or inflated information, abide by federal and state laws and acknowledge the age in which we live – the ‘information age.’

There is an excellent fact sheet at The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse – Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker’s Guide. I encourage you to read the entire fact sheet; it contains a wealth of information. Here are some highlights I’d like to share with you.

What is included in a background check?

    • Anything from Social Security verification to driving and credit records, drug test records, criminal and court records, education records.
    • Character and personal references in addition to interviewing your neighbors, yes your neighbor!
    • Bankruptcy records, medical records, military records and state licensing records.

What cannot be included in a background check report?

    • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets national standards that guide consumer reporting agencies but not background checks done in-house.  Some states have stronger laws that guide this, such as California.
    • There are additional laws surrounding arrest information, criminal records and bankruptcies.  For instance you may ask it on an application but if it is over 7 years it can’t be ‘reported.’

Who conducts background checks?

    • Specialized agencies like private investigators, employment screeners, or data brokers
    • Small companies are often done in house.
    • A word of caution, if companies are small and use internet advertised services, they may be out of compliance with laws.

How do you prepare for a background check?

    • Order a copy of your credit report, review court and DMV records
    • Ask to see a copy of your personnel file from former jobs
    • Notify neighbors and colleagues they may be contacted

What else can you do to protect yourself?

    • Know your resources and stay abreast of laws surrounding background checks and workplace discrimination
    • Contact government agencies like EEOC and the Federal Trade Commission
    • Gather information about access to attorneys and identify theft programs such as pre-paid or other legal type services that are available to you.

This information is just a snapshot of all information related to background checks, but good timely and relevant information. What resources would you recommend to employers, employees and job seekers?

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Michelle McLaren

Michelle McLaren, PHR is a Human Resources Business Partner for Wincor Nixdorf, a Global IT organization and has over 18 years progressive human resources experience. She is the Chair for the Austin HR Management Association Certification Committee, blogs regularly for AHRMA on various HR topics and lends her talents to other HR projects and initiatives. You can connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.


Yajaira Spell

I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem. You are wonderful! Thanks!


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