More employers than ever are taking steps to check up on the background of the people who they are employing, and background screening is becoming a standard part of the recruitment process. In a competitive job market any negative aspects on your background screening can automatically put your application into the “reject” pile. It’s only natural that applicants want to take steps to try to clean up their background check before the employer runs the screening. But what aspects of your background are employers actually looking for, and how do you present yourself in the best light?
Although there is a lot you can do in order to clean up your screening check, the one thing which can’t be influenced is your disclosure and barring check, or DBS. When applying for a DBS check, searches are made on the police database. Individual applicants can’t change the information held by the police, but not every position requires a DBS check. People who know that they have recent criminal convictions might therefore be best advised just to avoid applying for jobs which require a DBS check until the convictions become spent.
Many positions in financial services ask applicants to have their credit record checked. Employers are looking for any “red flags” in their credit file, such as high levels of unmanageable debt which might tempt staff into fraud. The good news is that anyone can access this information and online credit referencing agencies let you check your own file. It’s worth checking the file to make sure there are no obvious errors on it, as credit referencing agencies have a duty to put things right if you do find mistakes. Again, if you do know that you have problems with your credit record such as county court judgements (CCJs), or high levels of debt which could cause issues with an employer, then the best tactic is just to apply for positions which do not require a credit check until the situation is resolved.
One of the quickest and cheapest things for an employer to check is your online footprint. Start by googling your own name and seeing what comes up. You might not be able to do anything about negative information, but at least you will be aware of what employers are seeing when they run the checks. Look at your social media pages too, especially profiles which are open on sites like Facebook or Twitter. Delete any posts you wouldn’t be happy for an employer to see and look as well at any other accounts which you are following or interacting with content. Employers don’t want to see anything controversial or extreme on a prospective employee’s social media accounts. It’s also probably best to delete those posts moaning about your previous employer, or at least restrict who can look at them. Being proactive and taking steps to present the best image possible to a prospective employer should maximise your chances of success in the jobs market.