What You Need to Know about Background Checks

If you are told that prior to being hired or to being scheduled for an interview that a background check might be run on you, what does that mean?  Should you be worried?  What are they going to look at?  These are all valid questions that you should wonder about and that you should find out about!

Some of the things an employer might consider in a background check include:
  • Identity
  • Work history
  • Financial background
  • Criminal status

The employer is finding out how big of a risk you might be to them.  If you are prepared and know what your background check reveals this will prevent you from finding out about things that might not be so pleasing. 

What’s the Difference Between a Reference Check and a Background Check?

References are something potential employees are expected to provide.  They are usually people like employers and co-workers and sometimes personal references.  You can let the people on your reference list know that they may be contacted and you can prepare them for the kind of questions they may ask.  You can also ask them what kind of answers they may give.

A background check is a little bit different in that it confirms facts that you have given the employer on your resume and cover letter and possibly in your interview.  They may look into your education and employment history, as well as verify your identity.  Some of the other things they may check into include your driving record, your credit status, civil litigation, and your criminal record.

Be Prepared

You can be prepared to a certain extent by finding out what is on the record about you.  Check these things:

Identity: You should have two pieces of photo ID.  This can include a student card, drivers license, passport, or a health card if your province puts a picture on it. You should have your social insurance number ready if you are asked to sign an agreement.

Employment History:  Make sure that you worked where you have said you worked and that the name you were using at the time matches the name you currently use.  You can contact previous places of employment to make sure that the information they have is accurate and if you have changed your name, you can request that they put your new name on your file.

Education: Verify the information that is in the records of the schools that you attended and get transcripts of marks directly from the school; make copies of your transcript in case your employer requests a copy for your file.

Credit status: Make sure you are aware of your credit status.  Contact TransUnion Canada and Equifax and have them send you copies of your credit reports.  These are the two major credit bureaus in Canada.  Make sure everything is correct and have them make adjustments if they are not.

Civil Litigation/Criminal Records:  Get a certified criminal record check from the RCMP; if there is an unpardoned crime on your record that should not still be there start a process for a criminal pardon.  Be aware if there are any civil litigations on your record – these are public record.