How to Run an Employment Background Check

How to Run an Employment Background Check On Yourself

Last updated on May 11, 2021

Performing background checks on yourself every now and then is good practice, since it lets you see what information about you is public and out there for everyone else to see. In fact, most people have done an online background check on themselves – and if you have googled your name at some point in your life, so will your potential employer.

How to do a Background Check for Employment

If you’re wondering why you should run an employment background check on yourself and how to do a background check for employment, keep on reading this article to find out the answers to your questions, from how to do the employment background check on your own, to what background checks employers usually use.

Why Would Someone Run an Employment BGC on Themselves?

Before the internet, finding out information about someone was much more difficult. Sometimes you even had to pay someone to help you. Nowadays, however, everything can be found online, and finding personal information about someone is quite simple.

The information you come across about yourself could be stopping you from getting that great job you always wanted or from buying a home. By doing a background check on yourself, you’ll be able to see what others could find out about you in case they decide to look up your name.

Social media contains detailed information about people, including photographs and location tags, and LinkedIn and other similar websites that offer employment profiles are usually accessible to everyone.

People often overlook online profiles, unaware of all the data that is public and out there for everyone to see. Who remembers what they posted six or seven years ago? Something embarrassing or controversial you could have posted will still be present on your profile, building a certain image of you. Since employers sometimes check out potential employees’ profiles before even interviewing them, it’s desirable to have a professional online persona.

However, besides the information that can be easily found by googling someone’s name, additional data can be found using specialist sites that can dig way deeper and reveal more personal information. Some pages reveal family member names, previous addresses, criminal offenses, etc. – these are things that normally wouldn’t come up with a simple name search.

A background check will let you know whether some of the information online is inaccurate, so that you may update or remove it.

While there are ways to do background checks on yourself for free, if you want to look for some more hidden data, it’s best to hire a professional background check company.

Employment background checks typically provide the following information:

  • Criminal record
  • Education verification
  • Employment verification
  • Credit score and history

Here are some reasons why you should perform an employment background check:

Check for Mistakes and Fix Them

Even if you are squeaky clean and are certain that you have nothing to hide from your potential employer, it is good to perform a background check. While you might be sure that no negative details will turn up, you can never really be certain: you might have the same name as someone with a shady reputation or have unknowingly fallen victim to identity theft.

Therefore, it’s good to run your own background check and see if there are any errors, so that you can fix them. You can also let the potential employer know about any errors there might be.

Check Your CV

Make sure the information provided on your resume is accurate and complete. The dates on your resume must correspond to the ones your previous employer(s) or alma mater have provided as well, otherwise, your future employer could question your honesty.

Since many people exaggerate or even lie on their resumes and employers usually disqualify lying applicants, you must check your resume for any dates or other data that could be open to interpretation.

Acknowledge Your Record

In case you know that a background check might reveal an infraction, it’s good to learn what information your employer will see exactly. A background check will reveal this information for you. It’s not a bad idea to alert the hiring manager about possible incidents that could come up about you and tell the story in person, instead of having the manager deduct something from the documents provided.

How to Get a Background Check on Yourself For Employment

There are different ways how to do a background check for employment. You can do it by hiring a company or on your own. Here are the different methods you can use:

  • Use search engines
  • Use an online database
  • Search through social media
  • Check your court records
  • Check driving records
  • Check your references
  • Check your credit report
  • Use a background check company

Use search engines

Search engines are the fastest way to do an online background check. All you have to do is type in your name and location into Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. and see what pops up. Different search engines might show different results, so it’s good to use more than just one.

Search Online Public Records

Searching public records databases will reveal if someone has a criminal record.  However, if you share a name with a convict, a criminal record may show up, confusing your future employer.

Check all the public records and national databases that are available, including the global terrorism database, the national sex offender registries, the FBI’s fingerprint database, as well as state and federal criminal databases. Take a look at your records to be sure that there are no items belonging to someone else with the same name. Of course, if there are mistakes in the record, be sure to dispute it.

This tool is used by private investigators as well, since it’s great for finding out background information, though the information you find might be complicated to understand.

This search is mostly free, except for the FBI’s fingerprint database or some state websites. It is simple to perform the search, as you just have to type in your name. Since employers often check record databases, it is worth doing the search on your own to see if there is anything incorrect about you.

Review Your References

It’s also important to verify your work history, education, and references. In case you’re not sure of the date you had started your last job or finished college, call your previous work references, high school or college to confirm the dates, positions or promotions and make sure everything is accurate. By verifying all these details, you will ensure having the correct answer to any question the application might have.

Reviewing your references won’t cost you anything, and it won’t be hard either – all you have to do is make a few phone calls.

Search Social Media

Most employers run social media searches, which means you should, too. All you need to do is type your name and home state into the search bar and whatever is out there will pop up. In case something offensive or distasteful comes up, delete it from your social media page.

Make sure your social media profiles look professional and that the pictures and comments are appropriate. You can also make your account private if you think it’s necessary.

Your digital footprint portrays a certain image of you, so it’s important to make sure this image is accurate. All the comments you left and the tweets you retweeted leave a record. Always know what your social media privacy settings are and check to see if they’ve changed. Sites tend to come up with new policies that increase visibility of their users’ data, so watch out for that as well.

These types of social media searches won’t cost you anything unless you hire someone else to clean up your profiles. They’re simple to do and are worth doing since maintaining a professional profile is usually of importance to employers.

Search Court Records

Unfortunately, a national criminal database that would contain every criminal record does not exist, and there are many criminal records that are only available in individual courthouses.

To check out your criminal records, make a list of all the courthouses where you live and see if they have made the records available online. If they’re not available online, visit the courthouses and request to see your criminal record. Make sure everything is accurate by inspecting it in detail and file a dispute if there are mistakes.

This search won’t cost you much. While some courts might charge you an access fee, these fees are usually very inexpensive. However, it’s not as simple as the previously mentioned searches since it might involve visiting courthouses in person. Still, it’s worth taking the time and effort if you’re someone with a criminal record.

Check Driving Records

What’s part of a driving record (and for how long it stays on there) varies by state. Employers usually check someone’s driving record if the employee is applying for a job where driving is a big part of it, like a driving position. You can check out your driving records on the DMV website.

Make sure to check it for each state you had a driver’s license in and keep in mind that some states might charge a fee for obtaining records.

Get a Credit Report

What a credit report shows is how fiscally responsible a person is. While they are usually carried out for financial jobs, you could request one either way since they are very easy to get.

You are allowed to get a free credit report from three nationwide companies that report credit, and from each of these, you can order a copy once a year.  Ordering the report is simple: just fill in some personal information such as your name, social security number, date of birth, and home address.

Naturally, in case something strange and suspicious shows up on the report, check with the credit reporting company and make sure your identity hasn’t been stolen.

Credit reports are free and are simple to get since you just have to fill out an online form, and they’re worth getting if you’re applying for a financial job.

Hire a Background Check Company

In case you don’t want to put in that much effort and time, you can always hire a background check company to do all the work for you. In fact, employers normally hire background check companies, and using a reliable company for background checks will let you see what your employer will see.

When choosing which company to hire, make sure they are certified for the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which ensures only legally allowed information is included. Pre-employment screenings must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and background check reports have to include a summary of a person’s rights under FCRA. Moreover, if a potential employer decides not to hire you because of information found in the background check, they will have to give you a copy of the report and let you respond to it before finalizing their decision.

Also, make sure that the company you hired verifies all the results and can explain the legal compliance measures they’re undertaking.

Obviously hiring a background check company will cost you, but it’s worth doing since you’ll have all the checks done in one place.

When using a screening company, request various background checks but focus on the ones that are related to the job you’re applying for. The following are the most common:

  • Driving record check
  • Reference and work history check
  • Education verification
  • Identity verification
  • Credit report
  • Professional license check
  • Criminal records check
  • Sex offender

What do Employers Look for in a Background Check?

While this depends on the company and on the position, background checks are usually done to discover if a potential future employee has any red flags.

Employers usually analyze the following aspects: criminal background, identity, previous employment, education, licensing, illegal drug use, and credit check.

They’re on the lookout for references to drug use and alcohol, derogatory language, provocative talk of religion, politics or race, sexually explicit materials, violence, bullying, and distasteful comments about your coworkers or your current job.

What they look for in a future employee is a work portfolio, interest in the field, accomplishments and awards, contribution to the industry you’re part of, and proof that your resume has no lies on it.


Performing an online background check of yourself is a necessity when applying for a new job. Who knows what kind of information there is on the internet: things you posted years ago and might be ashamed of now, things that could be damaging to your persona and might stop you from getting the job of your dreams, etc.

Therefore, you must make sure that the information on your profile is accurate and professional so that you are presented to your potential future employer in the best light possible.

Furthermore, you never know if there’s someone with the same name as you with a shady history. It’s good to check that out and let the hiring manager know if that’s the case. Other things you can check on, depending on the position you’re applying for, are your credit report, references, driving records, and more.

Basic checks can be done online for free and by yourself, but if you want a more comprehensive search, it’s best to hire a background check company to do the work for you. This will save you the time and effort, as they can probably dig deeper than you would be able to, but can also do all of this legally and quickly.

Whichever option you decide to take, whether you decide to do the background check on your own or hire someone else to do it for you, you will know what information there is out there on you and will be able to clean it up before your future employer sees something undesirable.

Now that you know how to get a background check for employment, go ahead and get it done before applying for your next job position.

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