Kai Dickerson
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Background check basics - what employers are looking for
Last updated: August 10, 2022
Kai Dickerson
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Background check basics - what employers are looking for
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Criminal records to credit scores, employer concerns vary with the job

About 96% of employers perform background checks on new hires to control risk. Companies not only want to ensure jobseekers are honest about their backgrounds and certifications, but that their employees and customers are safe from harm. Here are the most common types of background checks, how long they’re good for, and what companies are looking for.

What is a criminal background check for work

Criminal background checks include felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions, and any pending criminal cases. Criminal convictions will show up on a background check regardless of how long ago the conviction was. What’s in a criminal record depends on the state where you live; convictions are always listed, and arrests without convictions may show up for up to 7 years.

Depending on how the offense intersects with the job you’re applying for - employers may be concerned with violent crimes, fiduciary crimes, larceny, DUI convictions, or sex-based crimes.

If you do have a conviction, tell your interviewer ahead of time, and offer to explain circumstances that may alleviate concern.

Other helpful articles 

What are employment history and educational records checks for work

Make sure your application and resume accurately reflect dates, duties, and titles of previous positions. Employers typically look at a 10- to 15-year history and will verify this information during a background check.

Similarly, reporting graduation or completion of academic milestones like a GED, high school, or college diploma should be accurate. Certifications, technical programs, and apprenticeships can be validated through the issuing organization.

Identity confirmation and work authorization

Particularly now, with identity theft, companies want to ensure they’re hiring who they think they’re hiring. Identity checks can also verify work authorizations.

Credit report check for work

Employers look at credit scores especially when the job entails handling money or customer accounts. Credit histories typically go back 7 years and some employers will overlook medical bills that appear on a credit report.


While most companies perform pre-hire background checks, some will conduct checks every 2 to 5 years if you remain employed with them.

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Kai Dickerson
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George Skinner

I have several felonies, thank goodness I gave that lifestyle up almost 15 years ago. And I have missed out on a few jobs because of my felony convictions, but I always try to get to a person and explain myself. And it has worked out for me most of the time. You just have to realize, you made the mistakes, but that it's not going to hold you back. Stay positive.

10w
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Robert Cates

It sucks that you are branded a felon regardless of what the outcome of the case,weather it was thrown out or dropped,it's still on your record and your judged for it,I have stuff that shows up in a background check from 1988,you just keep getting punished,and punished for it

31w
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2
Robert Cates

I was arrested for domestic violence back in 2005,My ex girl friend broke into my house at 2:00am,I was alone in my bedroom with the bedroom door locked,it's pitch black I'm sound asleep,I was woken by a cold metal object laid across my face,I had no idea who or what it was,I reacted really without thinking,rolled out of bed and swung in the dark at whoever was in my room,I heard a loud scream ,I turned on the ligjht and it's my ex girlfriend holing a screw driver she used to break in,.now I don't hit women,EVER,and that scared the hell out of me, i was arrested ,went to court the judge threw the case out,but yet its still on my record,it doesn't show the outcome,just that I was arrested for it,not cool.

31w
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3
skyla petty

I just want to gv up and just be done. Nobody would even miss me.

41w
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2
Nancy Brinkoetter

I was plead no contest to grand theft and dealing in stolen property.I had a public defender but he did not represent me well. First time ever in trouble. My husband and I owned our own jewelry repair business. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Did not have money or insurance to pay for treatment. Charges related to pawning items belonging to customers. I pawned the items instead of scrapping the gold. Hoping to redeem the items once our refinancing loan was available. When I had the cash in hand I went to redeem. Sheriff had put a hold on the items and I was unable to redeem. Took a plea and found guilty. Judge withheld on all charges. 3 years later I have a AS in Paralegal Studies and working towards my Bachelors in Office Supervision and management with a concentration on project management. I have been to many interviews but can not find a job because of the background check. I know what I did was unethical. I feel like my life is ruined.If someone would give me a chance I would be an excellent addition to the team. I am hard working, learn easily and do have ethics. I regret every day not hiring a lawyer. Being the first time I was accused of a felony an attorney could have gotten me into a diversion program. My GPA is 3.66 and I graduated with honors.

1y
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6
rickey hamilton

I THINK THAT WHIN.PEPOLE OR LOOKING.FOR WORK IN THIS DAY AND TIMES.THE PROOR BLACK WORKERS .NEEDS THE WORK THE .MOST IN LIFE FOR THE PROOR FAMILYS;WHO NEEDS THE MONEY FOR.THERE FAMILYS !!!!!!! BECOUSE OFBACKGRAND!! BECAUSE ALL.BACKGRANDS ! OR NOT! BAD

1y
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1
Jan Meyer

I have a "bench warrant" Will that show up?

1y
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2
Peter Laflamme

Would a DUI show after 10 yrs

2y
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Lisa Brzozowski

I got arrested but ny charges were thrown out by the DA due to lack of sufficient evidence. Will it show that ?

2y
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