You may know how to job search in today’s challenging economy. You might be a pro at using social media job sites to connect to business acquaintances. You might be a networking wizard at chamber of commerce lunches and business after-hours events. But that doesn’t mean that a faulty background check can’t scuttle your job search.
A recent story by the Washington Post highlighted a disturbing trend for job seekers: While a growing number of employers are conducting background checks on many of their job applicants, an equally growing number of companies providing these checks are submitting faulty information. This could mean that qualified job seekers are losing out on open positions because companies are reporting incorrect information on them.
The Information Employers Seek
For instance, a company might tell a potential employer that your FICO credit score –which shows in a nutshell how financially responsible you’ve been during your life – is a low 620 when in reality it is a stellar 780. Potential employers might pass on your application because of this incorrectly reported information.
Or maybe a background check company tells employers that you’ve declared bankruptcy or that you’ve lost your home to foreclosure. It doesn’t matter if this information is inaccurate; employers might see this as a sign that you are not reliable. Again, they may disregard your application because of these negative reports.
Incorrect Criminal Charges can Cost You in Your Job Search
Or, what if a company mistakenly reports that you were arrested for DUI? This incorrect information can dramatically hurt your search for a job.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much people looking for a job can do about this. According to the Washington Post story, nearly three-fourths of companies run criminal background checks for some job applicants. Other studies have shown that 60 percent of companies run credit checks on some of their job applicants.
Advocating for Change
Advocates are now pressing the federal government to enact legislation that allows people to see the same background and credit information that potential employers see. The goal is to give people the chance to correct mistakes.
The problem, according to the Washington Post story, is that as companies demand more background information, a growing number of questionable companies have sprung up to provide this information.
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