The Background Check Process

After the long process with searching for the job and interviewing (often times more than once), getting that offer letter can make anyone’s day. It’s a result of all of your hard work and determination. Once you accept the offer, the only thing left standing between you and your new career is the onboarding and background check process.

As a staffing agency, we want to give you some insight on what you can expect based on our experience with our clients and candidates.

How long does it take to be processed?

We wish we could give you a clear, strait-forward answer. This all really depends on what the end client requires. Most of our clients have different requirements that we agree upon when signing a contract with them.

In most cases, criminal record searches are some of the faster items in a background check. Education verifications could vary based on the institution. Typically, the longest part of the process is the employment verification.

Different companies have different procedures when it comes to verifying past employees. Here are a few scenarios we typically come across:

  • The past employer will verify over the phone instantly. Our background check provider always reaches out the Human Resource department of the previous employer. Many employers will verify their past employee right there over the phone. This is the quickest way to verify an employment record.
  • The past employer may work with a third party. There are some instances where companies do not do their own employment verifications. They have a third party company do the employment verifications for them. This can delay the process slightly at first because it is another company to reach out to, but can still have a quick turnaround time. It really depends on how the third party company operates.
  • The past employer has a specific request process. There are some companies that have a very specific employment verification process. They could require a formal letter by mail, fax, or email. They could also require a request form to be filled out.
  • The past employer does not respond. When the previous employer does not respond, this is typically when we update the hiring manager for the client so we can see how they would like to proceed.

This is why we say that the employment verification could possibly be the longest part of the background check process. It really depends on the procedure they use. Then typically most people have several past employers that needs to be verified.

In our past experience, many background checks can take anywhere between three to ten business days. Unfortunately with Covid, many courthouses are operating with limited hours. The company that we use to process our background checks, GoodHire, has put together a list of court status updates that you can find here.

What will be covered in my background check?

This all depends on what the client requests, and what is allowed by law. There are some background checks that go back 7 years while some can go back 10 years.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the laws in your country, state, and region. Keep in mind that you need to be aware of the laws from where you live as well as where you will be working from. Your background check will follow the laws of whichever region has stricter rules. You can check your state’s updated laws here.

Will my current employer be contacted?

You may get different answers from different people with this question. For us, the answer is typically yes. Our clients will  almost always want an employment verification for your current employer.

There are plenty of times where a candidate asks us if we could hold off on verifying their current employer. This is for understandable reasons. Their new job has not been solidified yet. If your current employer finds out that you’re going to be leaving them before you formally do so, they could let you go and you can potentially be out of a job if the background check does not get cleared.

What we can sometimes do, is delay that specific employment verification. This way, we can basically buy you more time. Our background check provider can do the rest of the background check first and save this final employment verification to be completed last. That way, we can keep you updated and if everything else on you background check clears out, you’re that much closer to solidifying your position at that new job.

Keep in mind that this has it’s disadvantages as well. As mentioned before, an employment verification could potentially be  the longest part of the background check. In the end, it needs to get done regardless.

What is a reason for a background report not to “pass”?

There are many reasons someone may not “pass” their background check. It can be something that popped up on their criminal record search, or it can be something as simple as having your days slightly off on your employment verification. There have been times where employment verifications have come back to us with a “Review” status because the dates were a few months off. There have been times where the previous job title doesn’t match up with what’s on the candidates resume.

In the end, full transparency with our candidates and clients is very important to us. If there is an alert on someone’s background check, we always get the full explanation from our candidate before passing that along to our clients. From there on, we let our client decide what they would like to with that information.


State Laws by GoodHire:

Court Updates by GoodHire:


Feel free to reach out with any questions:

Some employers are now looking at your social media profiles before reaching out to extend you an offer. The last thing you’d want is to lose the job because of something you yourself posted online.

Be mindful of how you’d like to be represented.

Your profile photo should represent your best self. Therefore, a photo from a night out with friends may not be the best option. As a rule of thumb, it should be a photo that you’re fine with your boss seeing. You should tailor your photo to be appropriate for the platform you are using. So for sites such a LinkedIn, unless your profession is on the more creative side, we would recommend business casual attire at the minimum. For sites such as Facebook, a more casual look is acceptable as long as it can’t be perceived in a negative manner.

Keep in mind what platform you’re using.

Some platforms are professional, while others are more personal, meaning that there is a great deal of content that should not be shared on both. LinkedIn was created as a social media platform for professional business use, so anything you post there should be related to your experiences, professional accomplishments, and professional interests. More personal items, such as photos from your vacation or talking about your hobbies, should be left to sites such as Facebook or Instagram.

Follow etiquette when engaging in conversations.

Try to be articulate when you post – avoid using too much slang, and certainly refrain from using slurs or obscenities. Engaging in conversations is encouraged and a great way for you to connect with and expand your network. However, try to avoid talking about topics such as religion or politics, and don’t engage in arguments. Posts that may come off as strongly opinionated may be a red flag to potential future employers.

Take advantage of their privacy settings.

All social media platforms have different settings to hide some information from those you’re not connected to. If you don’t want a potential employer seeing personal information, this is the perfect way to do it. Say someone tagged you in a photo, you can remove it. If you don’t want them to view your vacation photos you decided to share online, hide the album.

Certain platforms, such as Facebook, allow you to sort people you’re connected to into groups. You can then show and hide content that you post from specific groups, making this an easy way to control who can see your activity.

Keep in mind that these aren’t foolproof, and the best way to prevent people from seeing potentially embarrassing pictures or posts is to simply not upload them in the first place, so you should always think twice before posting something.

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