Background Check For Employment: What Shows Up On a Background Check and How to Prepare Yourself

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. Here is how to prepare your online presence for what employers look for in a background check.

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.

Check if your background information is exposed online

OneRep scans 196 people-search sites for your private details and public records, and removes them. Permanently.

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.

Prepare for your background check

OneRep helps you avoid surprises in the employment background screening by finding and removing unauthorized profiles on people-search sites. Automatically. 

If you have some patience and time on your hands, you may try removing people-search site profiles by yourself. Here are the tips for a successful removal recipe.

Check which people-search sites publish your profiles with the OneRep automated removal tool. It’s quick and free. You can also Google yourself – in this case, analyzing the results and selecting people-search site profiles will probably take longer.

Use our free opt-out instructions to guide you through the removal process on all people-search sites that expose your data.

Make sure you revisit the websites some time after the removal has been confirmed to you. Also, make it part of your routine to Google yourself every now and then to remove the profiles that will probably pop up again.

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 your educational credentials are in a former name, or else the school name or address has changed or is similar to another institution, your potential employer may get a false impression that you are deceptive about your educational background.

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 not very careful about your job title, dates, salary, or have 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 questionable 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:

1. Google yourself

Discover which results Google displays for your name to ensure there is nothing potentially harmful or non-professional that could hurt your reputation.

2. Delete unauthorised people-search site profiles

If you found the people-search site profiles you’ve never created, delete them manually or use OneRep to automatically remove yourself from 196 information broker websites and, as a result, from Google.

3. Remove information from the sites you own

 If you have a website or a blog where you previously posted something that may potentially affect your job search, make sure you remove this information or replace it with other useful content.

4. Try removing information from other websites

 In addition to your own website, your words, opinions and photos can be found on other people’s blogs, review sites and other web pages you don’t own. This information is more difficult to remove but it’s worth trying anyway. You can contact these websites and ask them to delete the information you don’t want to be publicly available any longer.

5. Review your social media profiles

Check 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!

6. Tweak your social media privacy settings

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.

7. Protect your identity with a nickname or a pseudonym

 If you feel that something you say may be misinterpreted on social media, forums and other websites, use a handle. Both Twitter, Instagram and so many other platforms allow that.

8. Boost your LinkedIn profile 

Start with the right photo, job title, relevant skills and experience, and then gradually move to growing your network, getting the endorsements and recommendations you deserve, as well as sharing relevant content and adding your comments.  It’s a great big world out there and spending some time and effort getting to know it may be very beneficial for your career and professional image.

9. Post comments on professional websites associated with your industry

Use your real name and be helpful and thoughtful in your contributions.

10. Consider creating a web page using your name

Fill it with the content that helps boost your professional appearance. If you publish original and useful information, chances are Google will index the page and soon start showing it in the top ten results for your name.

Bottom Line

Being subject to background checks are an unavoidable part of qualifying for a job. But now you have the tools to manage your online reputation. Make yourself the most attractive candidate by following the steps and tips we have provided above.

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

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