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Myths Surrounding Background Checks

A new CareerBuilder survey outlines myths around background checks, noting that not all companies or workers know the process.

The nationwide survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November 16 to December 6, 2016, among a representative sample of 3,411 U.S. full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes, and 2,391 full-time hiring and human resources managers in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

“In essence, a background check is what an employer uses to help protect against false advertising on a resume and reduce employer risk. After all, a good business is built on people who fulfill their duties responsibly,” said Ben Goldberg, CEO of Aurico, a CareerBuilder company. “But background screenings are surrounded by misconceptions and misunderstandings and our role is to provide transparency for candidates and employers.”

Myths for Employees

Myth 1: If I estimate my months and years of employment at each employer, that’s good enough.
Reality: 1 in 8 workers who currently have resumes (13 percent) say they estimate employment dates on their current resume. What they may not realize is their resume will get flagged as inaccurate and may cause an otherwise unnecessary delay in the hiring process or possible removal from of the running. From employment to graduation and everything in between, make sure dates are accurate.

Myth 2: Most employers don’t even conduct background checks.
Reality: The majority of employers (72 percent) say they do for every new employee before they’re hired. More than half (55 percent) drug test candidates.

Myth 3: If they conduct background checks, employers typically only look at where I worked.
Reality: In addition to locations of employment, employers check on everything from schooling, locations lived and criminal records to driving records and many other public information sources based on the position type the person is being considered for.

Forty-six percent of workers say they really don’t know what information employers are checking for when conducting background checks, which can put them at a disadvantage.

Myth 4: It’s not important to tell people I’m putting them down as a reference.
Reality: It’s a professional courtesy to ask people’s permission to use them as a reference, so they know to expect a call sometimes in the future. If your references respond with surprise and confusion when a potential employer contacts them, it gives the impression that you are unprofessional or disorganized.

Myths for Employers

Myth 1: Background checks aren’t always necessary.
Reality: Eighteen percent of employers said they made a bad hire because they didn’t conduct a background check. Given that one bad hire can cost a company $17,000 on average, this can be an expensive misstep.

Myth 2: All background check systems are created equal.
Reality: Twenty-nine percent of employers made a bad hire because they received bad information about the candidate. 1 in 7 employers (15 percent) have run into litigation for not hiring someone because of what was found in a background check. Make sure your provider keeps up with compliance standards, is National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Accredited, and makes sure the candidate is informed and supported.

Myth 3: My background check system provides a good experience for candidates.
Reality: Sixty-five percent of employers have never tested out their system themselves to see what the candidate experience is like. Not only is it important for employers to experience the process first hand, it’s important to seek direct feedback from candidates.

Myth 4: Background checks typically take 1 to 2 weeks.
Reality: The longer the background check, the higher the risk of losing the candidate because you couldn’t verify information fast enough and they moved on to another employer. Typically, background checks should return in less than five business days, but on average checks take 24 – 72 business hours to complete.