A lot of companies require a background check as a condition for employment. Usually, the companies will make a job offer which is contingent on passing the background check and references. Nothing to worry about. This post will explain how to pass the background check if flying colors. 💸
There are just a few background check companies and they typically pull from the same database. The most popular ones are HireSight vs Sterling. The type of the check can differ. Some companies just pull a Social Security Number check while others ask for credit reports, criminal records and even drug tests which for knowledge jobs is odd but whatever. If the employer has rules, we’ll just follow them and game the system by working multiple jobs.
The process to pass the check is straightforward:
- Create a new login (one login — one company) in the background check company app or on their website. It’s okay if your employers use the same system. There’s no overlap in accounts nor sharing between companies (clients of the background check company).
- Fill out the background check form with standard info like name, address, SSN and so on.
- When it comes to employment, make sure you don’t include employers that you don’t want or the ones that weren’t on your resume. You don’t have to disclose every job you have had since 12. I usually only put last 3-4.
- Be careful with the start and end dates 📅 and try to stick to your story that you can back up with pay stubs, W2 and 1099.
- Check “do not contact” for each employer. 📵The reasons can be various, e.g., you currently work at this company and don’t want your boss to find out, the company no longer exists, and so on.
- The background check company will require W2 or 1099 as a proof of stated work history. That’s why I don’t want to give them all the employment history and only put 2-3 most recent ones.
- Power tip 🔋: if you don’t have a W2 or a pay stub from your old employers, usually there’s an email like email@example.com through which you can request the documents. If that fails, you can always generate a needed form on many websites that’s out there. Just search “generate W2”.
- Make sure you check the box ✅where it says that you want to get a copy of the report. You are entitled to it by law.
- Submit the form and go back to other interviews because while most likely you’ll be approved, there’s a small chance that a company can use a background check to withdraw the offer. Your only defense is to have other job offers ready.
Just to make it clear, there’s no way for a background check company to find out about your current or past jobs unless:
- You put them in the background check form: just don’t put info you don’t want them to know. Less is more here.🤫
- You mentioned them somewhere like a credit/loan application and the jobs were recorded at the credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, Experian): this is harder to correct since it an old information.
- Your employers reported the job to WorkNumber and you didn’t freeze it: freeze ☃️ the number now.
Once in a while a background check will give me a hard time like asking for my diploma form 10 years ago. Now I even stopped mentioning my bachelor’s degree. What’s the big deal if I don’t mention it? The hiring manager and the interviewers already liked me and knew enough about my experience and education. For everyone with 5+ years of experience the experience matters more than degree (unless you are from Harvard).
Therefore, omitting some old data is not a big deal. You can skip that on the background check form. The worst case scenario, if anyone from HR or the hiring team asks why I didn’t put everything in the form— you can always say “I omitted it because I thought it’s not very recent”.
In most cases, background checks are very shallow. You shouldn’t worry about them. It’s just a checkbox for employers that they go through to try to do bare minimum to minimize risks. Checks don’t even check nationally for crimes. For example, someone who has a reckless driving record in Wyoming, but moved to California to work for Google, the check would be run only in California courts. 🤦♂️You’ll see what type of searches they run in the report.