Background checks are stressful. Even if you think you have a clean record, incorrect information may have found its way onto your report. Fortunately, there are a few ways to increase your chance of passing the check with flying colors. If you’re stressed about an upcoming application, follow these seven tips.
1. Know What to Expect
The two most common types of background checks are pre-employment and tenant screenings. For employment, they typically run a criminal background check that reviews any past arrests and convictions. In most cases, they are looking for a history of violent crime or theft. If you’re applying for a position at a government facility or school, then an FBI background is done. This style of screening runs a standard criminal review along with a fingerprint scan. Sometimes, employers also run credit and DMV record checks.
A tenant background check is less thorough. The process involves reviewing criminal and civil court records. The goal is to eliminate applicants with violent crimes and evictions. Most property owners decline individuals on sex offender registries, as well. You’re also required to submit to a credit check, which reviews your credit scores.
Most applications outline what type of background check the company is going to complete. If not, ask before you file the paperwork. By knowing what to expect, you may be able to get ahead of the issue by being upfront about your situation.
2. Be Honest
While you don’t necessarily have to offer up information that is not requested, it’s important that you don’t lie. Providing false information is often worse than criminal charges or poor credit. Applicants can get around past mistakes by showing growth and maturity, but lying erases all those improvements in the eyes of many people. As a result, employers and landlords are more likely to overlook a blip on your record than a lie.
3. Consider Who’s Running the Background Check
Not all background checks are the same. A traditional pre-employment screening looks at a person’s criminal record. Yet, if you’re applying for a trucking company, they will also review your driving record. A landlord, on the other hand, does not care about driving tickets or DUIs, but they are interested in past evictions. It is important to consider who’s running the check so that you know what items could pose a threat.
4. Choose the Right Position
Finding employment is often a challenge for people with criminal histories. If you’ve struggled with this problem in the past, you might want to consider a position that doesn’t require a background check. Many styles of non-customer facing jobs are less concerned about criminal pasts. This is commonly the case with construction companies, who hire contractors for worksites, as well as asphalt and concrete businesses.
Unfortunately, many companies are not upfront about their hiring process. However, there are employment agencies who specialize in this matter. Such organizations partner with local businesses to provide a second chance to people with a criminal history. Consider signing up for one of these agencies to find the right position.
5. Clean Up Your Record
You also have the option to expunge or seal your record. Expungement is the most challenging because it completely removes the charges from your record. However, not all local laws allow this process. Some state, county, and city governments also restrict the style of crime that is removable.
If you don’t qualify for an expungement, you may still have the option to seal your record. This process removes your history from public records. As a result, only certain groups have access to it, like the government.
If you are worried about your credit history, work to improve your credit rating. The best thing to do is to pay off old debts. This process won’t remove the items from your report, but it will show them as paid and raise your score.
6. Do Your Research Ahead of Time
Doing your own research is the best way to find out what information is available about your past. Public records are the perfect resource for this process, but accessing them is time-consuming. To get the big picture quickly, consider running an online background check on yourself. This process will also help you identify any incorrect information.
Along with your criminal record, run a credit check. You can request a free report from the three credit agencies every 12 months. If you have a credit card, your company may offer a free report as well. There are also online companies, like Credit Karma, that provide easy access all year. Review your reports thoroughly so that you know what issues will pop up.
7. Choose Your Timing Carefully
For both employment and housing, you can avoid a headache by choosing your application time carefully. Items don’t stay on credit reports forever, so pushing back your date may help your score. If you’re expunging a criminal record, wait until the process is complete before you apply for a new job. Simply rearranging your timeline may help eliminate some of the stress associated with background checks.
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