Does a Background Check Show My Entire Employment History?

Your employment history stretches a couple of decades and it includes at least one job you got canned from and a too-short stint at another company. Do you need to include these on that lengthy employment history section on most applications? Does a background check even show all of your previous gigs? It’s a common question in the background check industry and we have a few answers for you.

First, here’s an example of when omitting your previous job can come back to haunt you and hurt a lot of people in the process:

Neighbors in a Wisconsin village are reeling after their village administrator was charged with possessing child pornography in February
. The man got the job in 2011. He apparently went through a standard background check but no one bothered to vet the man’s employment history. Turns out, the man was investigated for similar reasons during a 6 year run in city government in a different Wisconsin county. He listed ‘consultant’ during the same time period on his resume. Anonymous tips lead to the man’s arrest this time.

It’s an embarrassing situation for the village, and an extremely tragic one for the victims in this case. Certainly a sobering reminder of the importance of verifying the authenticity of your applicants’ histories before giving them the green light.

The case also sheds light on this question about full employment histories showing up in background checks. Here’s what we can tell you about it:

There is no magical database that stores every job you’ve ever held. That first gig scooping ice cream in high school? No one’s going to track that down unless you still list it on your resume. In most cases employers only verify the listed information you’ve provided. In other words, there are limited ways they can find out other places you’ve worked if you
 omit them from your resume and/or application (like the anonymous tips in the Wisconsin man’s case).

But, and this a BIG BUT, you may want to seriously consider disclosing your entire work history, warts and all. Why? There are two reasons:

One) The truth shall set you free. If you exaggerate, embellish, falsify, lie or whatever other deceitful term you can think of during your job application process, you have zero credibility and therefore won’t be hired. If you do get the position, you’ll feel intimidated and nervous enough, without the added pressure of constantly wondering if your new employer will uncover the truth about you. It will be distraction and your emotions and productivity will undoubtedly suffer. Most hiring managers will confirm that they are more inclined to FIRE someone who lies as compared to not hiring someone because of an previous employment issue.

Two) Just because you were let go or jumped ship too soon, doesn’t mean that has to come across negatively. Some resume writing experts feel there is almost always a positive way to spin a departure and that it just takes some self-reflection and practice on how you’ll handle the inevitable question when it pops up in the interview process. Also, be realistic about what your former bosses can actually say about you when called for a reference check. They’ll probably only confirm your dates of employment, final salary and maybe title to mitigate any risk associated with giving a misleading reference.

Ultimately, you’re still the decision maker on how you want to handle this situation when it comes up while job hunting. If you’re really concerned with what information employers pull when they run a background check on you, you might want to invest in running one on yourself. Our team of screening experts can help you figure out if this is a smart move on your part. Give us a call today at 1-800-319-5580 or shoot us an inquiry here.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, Human Resources, News, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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