News & Resources

Background screenings try to learn about the person behind the data

Jan 07, 2013 Quinn Thomas

The intricacies of background screenings may be lost on job seekers, but hiring managers know exactly what they are looking for when they delve into various aspects of an individual's job and personal history.

"In the real world, no one cares one whit about what websites you've visited, what you've purchased on Amazon and what you write on your anonymous blog about your children…," human resources expert Suzanne Lucas states on CBS News Money Watch. "They do care about your judgment, your public image and your felonies."

For instance, Googling a person's name will turn up a lot of information when prospective employers do an online search. But companies that specialize in background screenings, such as Microbilt, also spend a considerable amount of time doing database searches that may include driving records, eviction and financial history, professional licensing and a check of international watch lists.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that more than two-thirds of employers (69 percent) will check the backgrounds of individuals they are considering for a job.

Details matter
According to Money Watch, employers try to verify not just the basics, but details about an individual's work and education history, particularly as it pertains to the job under consideration. If a position requires that the applicant travels, then a driving record may become especially important. For employment that revolves around financial services, a job seeker's credit history can impact a hiring executive's decision.

Prospective employers want to know how long a person attended an institution and whether they actually received a degree. In previous work assignments, it's important that job titles match the applicant's resume and the achievements and responsibilities they claim are investigated. Hiring managers and background screeners will also verify whether certifications and licenses are up to date.

Beyond the nuts and bolts, prospective employers want to get a clear picture of the person as well as the worker they may be bringing into their workplaces.

"What they are really looking for is evidence of good judgment, or rather a lack of evidence of bad judgment," Lucas contends.

She suggests that job seekers do their own Google search on themselves so they can see what a hiring executive will see. This gives job hunters a chance to correct any errors and cases of mistaken identity with those who have a similar name.