Will You Be Submitted to a Criminal Background Check?

Criminal Background Check Even if you have nothing to hide, you may find the thought of a potential employer doing a criminal background check on you a bit disconcerting. You might start wondering what they'll find: "Did I pay those parking tickets?" "Will that indiscretion from back when I was 22 show up?" Well, chances are your potential employer will indeed check up on you, and perhaps you should consider it a good sign that you've made it that far in the hiring process.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) considers criminal background checks an appropriate and important tool to help employers make informed hiring decisions. The organization recently conducted national research that shows a majority of employers use criminal background checks in case-specific ways, and do not take a one-size-fits-all approach, in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits unlawful discrimination in the hiring process).

So what are employers looking for exactly when they conduct these checks, and why do they do them? Some of their reasons might surprise you. For example, it's often for the workers' own safety, or for the safety of the clients, customers, and well-being of the company itself. The Background Checking: Conducting Criminal Background Checks SHRM Poll showed:

• Organizations conduct criminal background checks on job candidates primarily to ensure a safe work environment for employees (61 percent of respondents), to reduce legal liability for negligent hiring (55 percent) and to reduce or prevent theft or other criminal activity (39 percent).

• Twenty percent of organizations conduct criminal background checks on job candidates because they are required to do so by law. Some federal and state laws and local ordinances require employers to conduct checks for certain positions, including day care providers, health-care providers, teachers, coaches and police.

• Checks are most commonly conducted for job candidates with fiduciary and financial responsibility (78 percent of organizations), candidates who will have access to highly confidential employee information (68 percent), and senior executive positions (55 percent).

• When making a hiring decision, HR professionals take into consideration the severity of the criminal activity (97 percent of respondents), number of convictions (95 percent), relevance to the position (93 percent), and length of time since the criminal activity (95 percent). These findings are consistent with EEOC guidance that employers may lawfully make a hiring decision based upon a prior conviction when many of these factors are considered.

• When adverse information is found, 63 percent of organizations offer the candidate an opportunity to explain the circumstances before the job decision to hire or not to hire is made.

• Criminal background checks are used on all job candidates by 73 percent of organizations. Nineteen percent of organizations conduct criminal background checks on selected job candidates.

There now. Doesn't that make you feel better? Minor infractions are irrelevant, and even if there are some major ones on your record, you'll probably get the chance to explain them. In this litigious society, employers just can't be too careful.

Next:Ask an Expert: I Have a Criminal Record and Nobody Will Hire Me

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