How Do You Fail a Background Check?

How Do You Fail a Background Check?

If you're wondering how to fail a background check, you're not alone. It's a common question among job seekers and there are a number of answers. Below is a breakdown of the ways you can fail, as well as tips for ensuring you pass.

How To Fail a Background Check

You were convicted of a crime relevant to the job's responsibilities

Employers have a legal obligation to keep their workplace safe, but they also can't discriminate based on an applicant's criminal record. In fact, they can only deny you the job if the offense is relevant to the job's core responsibilities.

For example, sexual offenders can't become teachers or school bus drivers. Any job that deals with these "vulnerable populations" (e.g. youth and the elderly) will need to be held by employees who never committed a sexual offense.

You committed a crime and are applying for a high security clearance job

Jobs that require a high security clearance understandably hold their applicants to a very high standard. This means that you may be disqualified for something from your past before you even get to the security clearance check phase of the hiring process.

You may be disqualified from a high security clearance job if your record contains any of the following: a single serious crime, a series of lesser offenses, embezzlement, income tax evasion (or other financial crimes), sexual offenses, crimes related to excessive alcohol or drug consumption, a history of personality disorders, or a history of cyber crime (such as hacking).

Visit the State Department website for more information on what may disqualify you.

You have a bad credit history

Not all background checks include a credit check. But when they do, some employers consider a poor credit rating to be a mark against you, especially if you're applying for a financial position.

That said, many employers understand that a person's financial history can be affected by death, divorce, or mistakes made when an applicant was younger. So unless you're applying for a job that handles money, you likely won't be denied the job even if you fail this portion of the background check. And if in doubt, be upfront with the employer and proactively discuss any blips in your credit history

Embellished experience and credentials

We all lose track of dates here and there, and many tweak resumes to include keywords that aren't strictly the truth. But there's a difference between getting a start date slightly wrong and claiming to have graduated from a university that doesn't know your name. Mismatched credentials at best look bad, at worst can lead to accusations of fraud.

There's a dishonorable military discharge on your record

The full details of a discharge might not even be included in your background check report, but an employer may consider this a red flag and deny you the job anyway. Employers for any job may choose not to hire you because of a dishonorable discharge, but this will be more common for jobs related to security or finance, since those jobs typically require a spotless record.

How to Pass a Background Check With Flying Colors

Do a self-background check beforehand

If it's in the budget, you might consider hiring a third party to run a check before you even start the application process. This way, you'll have a solid idea of what's likely to arise. If not, you can manually run a background check on yourself by pulling information from a few different sources.

Raise any issues directly with the employer

Being forthright, detailed, and clear can go a long way in increasing your credibility and earning the employer's trust.

So, How Do You Fail a Background Check?

There's a chance you will fail a background check if you have a criminal history. This is particularly true if the offenses on your record are relevant to the job you're applying for (i.e. if you committed a sexual offense and are applying to work with children).

However, if you "fail" a background check it doesn't mean you won't get the job. Employers can't deny all job applicants with a criminal history, or else they run the risk of a discrimination lawsuit. If there's anything you're worried about on your record, voice your concerns directly with the employer before the background check. This openness can help you earn their trust, and maybe even help you snag the job despite a criminal history.

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