Don’t Let an Employment Background Check Kill Your Dream Job

Are you looking for a new job? You may have to take care of your online presence first.
Employment Background Check

You can not escape being subject to background checks when you apply for a job. However, don’t be discouraged. You can increase your chances of getting hired if you know how the pre-employment screening works. We will tell you how to prepare your online presence for what employers look for in a background check.

Quick Overview of What We'll Cover

What Is a Background Check for Employment?

An employment background check is an investigation into a job seeker’s identity. It may include compiling information about work history, credit reports, educational achievements, driving history, criminal records, medical files, and social media use.

Why Do Employers Do Background Checks?

Companies face a lot of liability in today’s world and must reduce the potential risks of hiring new people. They must verify an applicant’s integrity and relevant professional skills. Additionally, a business wants to ensure workplace safety, protect its reputation, and has legal obligations that require thorough screening.

What Shows Up On a Background Check?

There is no single correct answer. What shows up on a background check depends on who is performing it, what they’re checking and why. Some employers, for example, might go for a full background check and examine every record they find, while others run a criminal background check only. So, if your potential employer is performing a simple criminal history check, they will use your data including your SSN to see if your name is associated with any of the following: 

  • Felony or misdemeanor criminal convictions
  • Arrests
  • Pending criminal cases
  • Court records (e.g. judgement, orders, decrees, etc.)
  • Warrants
  • Sex offences
  • History of incarceration as an adult

Full Background Check for Employment: What Do They Check?

Online databases (people-search sites/information brokers)

Criminal records wrongfully associated with you due to identity theft or mismatched profiles on people-search sites may include arrest reports, bankruptcy, court judgments, and liens. These may damage your reputation.

Use the OneRep automated removal tool to remove any unauthorized profiles on people-search sites permanently.

Social media

54% of employers have eliminated a potential candidate due to what they uncovered on social media. People post embarrassing and unprofessional information about themselves. Even sharing political news on social media can keep you from getting the job.

Clean up social media profiles, including removing embarrassing pictures, posts, and tags. References to drinking and drug use can also turn-off prospective employers.

Court records

Regardless of the offense, a hiring manager may regard any criminal history as unfavorable. 

Be sure that online records accurately reflect your history.

Proactively advise potential employers if there are people with similar names that they might confuse with your records due to specifics like age or location. 


References may not be expecting calls or know what to say about you.

Get permission, screen, and prepare your references to receive calls. Be sure to get preferred and current contact information for them. Give them a “cheat sheet” that details what you would like shared with a potential employer.

Be selective about giving out your references as they will become annoyed as they get more calls. Use the verbiage, “References Provided Upon Request,” and withhold giving out your references until you are sure you want to move forward with an opportunity.

Educational history

  • If you are deceptive about your educational background 
  • If your educational credentials are in a former name
  • If the school name or address has changed or is similar to another institution

Update all your schools on any name changes and confirm they have the correct information for you. Give the employer current contact information for all of your listed schools.

Work experience

If you are untruthful about salary, job title, dates, or omitted jobs, a potential employer might find out.

The Social Security Administration sells work histories associated with your social security number. Employers may verify your work history even if you do not give them all your previous employers’ names. You can check your work history to be sure it is correct and make corrections if it is not.

Credit report

An employer may choose not to hire you based on bad credit.

If an employer does not hire you because of credit, they must tell you orally or in writing who supplied the credit report and notify you of your right to dispute the information’s accuracy. If any information is wrong, be sure to dispute it. You can proactively check each of your credit reports once a year to be sure they are right. 

Background check companies

Background check companies may be checking any or all of the previously mentioned categories. They are experts in digging and are more likely to find damaging information.

In addition to doing a thorough job during initial screenings, many businesses contract with background check companies to continually monitor your reputation for changes, such as criminal violations. If you are hired by a business that uses a background check company, you may choose to proactively report any tickets or other legal violations to your employer to discuss them.

Prepare Your Online Reputation for Employment Background Checks

Use this checklist to improve your online image and increase your chances of getting hired:

  • Review your social media profiles, including your photos, comments, and groups, and remove any that you may not want a potential employer to see. Be sure you are creating a positive image!

  • Google yourself to ensure there is nothing potentially harmful or non-professional that could hurt your reputation.

  • After you’ve Googled yourself and see people-search site profiles you’ve never created, you must remove yourself from them! Use One Rep to delete yourself from 105 information broker websites and Google results.

  • Hide pages by using the security provided by sites to make your profiles private. Facebook and other social media offer multiple audience settings, including making your profile invisible to everyone except your friends.

  • Use nicknames, a handle, or a pseudonym to protect your identity if you say anything controversial or non-professional on social media or when responding on websites. Twitter and Instagram both allow you to use handles.

  • Publish web pages using your name with content that helps boost your professional appearance. Register and use the .com associated with your name (

  • Post comments on professional websites associated with your industry. Use your real name and be helpful and thoughtful in your contributions.

FAQ About Background Check

Can I do a background check on myself?

Yes. Do a self background check proactively and fix errors first and be prepared to discuss what an employer might find. Some services offer a free background check on yourself, but they are generally limited and lead to paid services. 

What shows up on a background check?

A background check might be only basic information, including social media background checks, or it could be in-depth. You may wonder what does a background check show, but the answer varies from job to job.

What do employers look for in a background check?

An employer may use the background check to confirm you are qualified to do the job.

What can disqualify you on a background check?

This depends on the job. A job that involves driving company vehicles may be more likely to disqualify people with traffic violations. 

What do background checks look for?

They may be as simple as wanting to verify your identity or very deep for highly sensitive jobs.

To Wrap It Up…

Being subject to background checks are an unavoidable part of qualifying for a job. But now you have the tools to tackle the critical first step of cleaning up your online reputation. Make yourself the most attractive candidate by following the steps we have provided here.

Be sure to take advantage of OneRep’s free 5-day trial to start removing your personal information from the people-search sites that expose your data. And good luck on landing that new job!

Maria Shishkova

Digital Marketer & Privacy Expert at OneRep | LinkedIn