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What Every Job Applicant Should Know About Background Checks

The process itself differs per company, but if you’re applying for a job for the first time, one thing you should know is that a prospective employer may run a background check on you as part of their recruitment process. Given that the onboarding stage—including employee training—requires intensive investment on the part of a company, it’s only logical for them to want to hire the best candidates from the get-go.

In America, 96% of employers routinely conduct basic criminal background checks on job applicants. A significant number also use social media to check on potential candidates and get a general idea of whether they’ll be a good cultural fit. 

Whether you’re applying for office-based or work from home jobs in Manila or elsewhere in the Philippines, it would help for you to know the whys and hows behind background checks. Your understanding will help you grasp the significance of a background check in the recruitment process and be more proactive about your career prospects, both in the immediate and far future.

Why Are Background Checks Important?

The traditional purpose of a background check remains the same across companies and industries. Most employers conduct background checks for the following reasons: 

1) To Enforce Workplace Safety

One key reason for an employer to do a background check on a job candidate is to ensure a secure work environment for both incoming and existing employees. A company’s human resources (HR) department should be able to identify any potential risks associated with a candidate’s history, be it in terms of criminal records or other concerning activities. 

In the Philippines, all successful hires should be ready to submit National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance to their new employers. This document certifies that the employees have no prior criminal history that may compromise the safety of their workplace.

2) To Verify a Candidate’s Qualifications

Most employers also try to cross-check each candidate’s educational and professional backgrounds to ensure that they possess the qualifications required for the job. To verify the authenticity of a candidate’s educational qualifications, the recruitment team may contact their university or ask for certifications such as a diploma or school records. As for the candidate’s work experience, an HR officer may contact their character references to ask them about their work history.

3) To Protect the Company’s Reputation

Hiring the wrong person can have far-reaching consequences for a company’s reputation. That’s why background checks also serve as risk mitigation strategies, helping companies avoid the negative impact of a new employee’s unethical behavior or misconduct. 

For this reason, an employer may check your public social media accounts for behaviors that would raise red flags. Be aware of the things you’ve posted in public that may reflect on you in a certain way, and curate your social media accounts before you start applying to jobs or heading to interviews.

As referenced above, employers are no longer confined to resumes or character references when it comes to conducting background checks. They now have access to a wealth of online information about job applicants like yourself. Info about you that is publicly available via the internet may already be enough for them to form a very strong impression of you. 

How Should You Prepare for a Background Check?

You may not be privy to all that happens during your background check, for example when your recruiter makes a private call to one of your character references. But you’ll be able to wait out the application process with more confidence if you do the following:  

1) Verify Your Educational Credentials

Again, your academic qualifications are what prove that you have the knowledge and skills required for the job. Any misrepresentation in this area can impact your chances of getting hired. To make it easy for any company to verify your qualifications, be ready to submit copies of your credentials and school transcripts whenever these are requested of you.

2) Review and Update Your Resume

Next, see to it that your resume is accurate, up to date, and free of typos or missing details. Your resume format should properly highlight the consistency and reliability of your work history, as your employer will use this to gauge your potential for success in your new role. 

Also be prepared to provide character references, such as your former supervisors and co-workers. Request permission to list their name, designation, and contact details in your resume, and give them advanced notice that they might be contacted as part of a background check. 

3) Update Your Online Presence 

Your web and social media presence may play a significant role in whether you get hired or not. Knowing that, review and adjust your social media privacy settings. It’s also advisable for you to clean up your online profiles to present a professional image. And if you have your own website or digital portfolio, update it and commit to keeping it active for professional purposes. 

4) Be Honest and Transparent with Your Potential Employers

Lastly, commit to putting your best foot forward and being transparent with anyone who may eventually end up being your employer. Be honest about your background and address potential issues that may result in red flags, for example a gap in your employment history. This approach will build trust between you and potential employers and prove that you have nothing to hide from them. 

For sure, background checks are among the most nerve-wracking aspects of any job search. But the right preparations should make you less nervous about them and more confident about your ability to score a job. Let your character and qualifications speak for themselves—and give your prospective employers no reason to doubt that you’ll be a good match.

Kimberley Reyes

Kimberley Reyes is an Online Business Manager for entrepreneurs who are ready to get off the hamster wheel and step into their CEO shoes. On top of helping her clients get organized and scale their businesses, she is also happily busy raising her five kids with her firefighter husband.

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