Most employers run background checks on job candidates. This is becoming increasingly simple thanks to sites like, where you can run a check that’s free. What is more, it will provide a wealth of detail about the individual being checked, and all that’s needed is their first name, last name, city, and state.

Will Potential Employers Run a Background Check on You?

The question is not whether a potential employer will run a check on you. They most likely will. The real question is what they will find and, if the prospect of this is unsettling, what you can do about it.

The first thing you need to know is that the employer needs your written consent to run a check. If they do it without obtaining it first, that makes it illegal. If you’re that worried, simply don’t give consent. They don’t need your permission to run a simple Google search on you, though, so they can do that without you knowing.

What can They Find?

Employers can find several things, such as your employment history, your credit history, criminal records if applicable, driving records, and more. The legality of background checks carried out by a third party is ensured under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

A potential employer might want to see if the data on your resume is accurate, including where and when you worked for a given company, what your position was, and how much money you were making. This is why it’s never a good idea to lie on your resume. Always provide accurate contact information of companies you worked for in the past.

All About Criminal Records

The type of information someone can get about a candidate’s past depends on the state. In some states, some information is completely confidential. You also can’t be rejected solely on the basis of a criminal record according to regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Details on what your potential employer may check are available from the respective Department of Labor of your state. The employer must consider when the offense occurred, its nature, and its relevance to the job you’ve applied for.

However, according to the Background Screening Trends & Best Practices Report by Sterling Talent Solutions (2017), 93% of employers perform criminal record searches, and many of them consider whether you got a criminal conviction or not.

Most employers told Sterling Talent they would allow the applicant to explain the incident. 67% of employers reported they would move forward with the evaluation even after finding information of a conviction. Nevertheless, keep in mind that criminal records are a factor in hiring, and it is very difficult to prove discrimination unless the employer specifically admits it.

Credit Checks

Credit checks include data like your current and previous addresses, finances, social security number, mortgages, student loan debt, credit card debt, late payments, car loans, and defaulted loans. Major bureaus like TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian provide credit reports. You can get a free copy of your report once a year. Evidence of late payments or unpaid debt might count against you because the employer could see it as a liability. Ideally, we would all pay our bills on time and keep our finances in order. This is especially important when it comes to student debt. Early repayment of student debt not only reduces overall credit costs but also gives a positive impression to employers. Consistency improves one’s overall credit score and demonstrates fiscal responsibility.

Preparing for the Check

Now that we’ve established your employer might run a check and what they will most likely discover, let’s discuss the steps to take to be prepared. Since a potential employer will find out anyway, it’s best not to try to hide anything from them. Address any concerning matters in your background check with the recruiter as soon as possible.

Before the interview, get copies of your records. You can order a free credit report. If the job involves driving, request a copy of your record from the DMV of your state. Get in touch with the court that handled any civil lawsuit you were involved in, if applicable.

Tell your friends you’re looking for a job, and someone might contact them and ask questions about you. Tell past coworkers too.

In the beginning, we mentioned googling. Your employer can do this without telling you. It’s of paramount importance to know what the search may yield. Google your name and get rid of anything on your blogs, social media accounts, and personal site or sites that might have a negative effect. Also, make sure all of these are up to date.

Final Thoughts

It is always important to be educated about your rights and responsibilities, but especially if you’re looking for a job. Be prepared to answer questions about any facts that may surface. The hiring process is comprised of cover letters, resumes, and background checks to an equal extent. Before any issue arises, it’s good to be prepared. Don’t be afraid of being asked uncomfortable questions. Just know what to answer if you are.