Getting close to a job offer is certainly a relief for any job seeker. A common question job seekers have is whether an employment background check is a good sign that they're about to be hired.
We talked to our team of career experts about what job applicants can expect if a potential employer is running a background check. Here's what they told us!
Does a background check mean you have the job?
It's not a 100% guarantee that you have the job, but it sure is a strong indication that you may receive an offer.
A background check usually comes at the end of the hiring process. Employers will typically conduct a background check before they're about to make an offer. They may be conducting a background check on a handful of candidates they're considering making an offer to. It's impossible to know if you're the only one they're considering--or if there are several other job contenders they're running a background check on.
How long after a background check can you expect an offer?
It's impossible to give an exact time frame but you should hear something within a week or two after a background check.
It takes anywhere from two to five days to conduct an employment background check. The hiring manager would then usually need a few days to make a final decision or put together an offer.
A background check is usually a good sign as employers will usually conduct one before they make an offer.
Don't just wait for the offer!
Although employment background checks are a good sign that you're being seriously considered for the job, don't sit back and wait for the offer. Keep applying to as many positions as you're qualified for.
Remember that most employers automatically screen your resume with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. These systems reject nearly 75% of resumes so you need to ensure you use a standard format and include relevant keywords on a resume.
Types of background checks:
1. Past employment
They may be checking to verify that all of your experience listed matches your employment history records. Make sure that all of the dates and company names/titles listed on your resume are accurate.
Many job seekers "stretch" their employment history dates to avoid having gaps on their resumes. This isn't a good idea because if the job candidate's background check reveals something different in their work history, employers may see that as a red flag and may reject your application.
If this applies to you, check out our advice on dealing with employment gaps on a resume.
During the employment screening, the employer may also verify that you earned the degree(s) listed on your resume or application. Lying about your education is a serious offense that could get you in trouble so ensure that the education section of your resume is accurate and up to date.
3. Criminal history record
This is straightforward: most employers will check your criminal record before making an offer.
They are checking criminal records for:
Fraud or embezzlement
4. Credit report history
The employer may also check your credit history if the position will allow you to have any sort of financial authority.
According to the FTC, here are some things employers are not allowed to check for when conducting a background screening on a candidate:
Bankruptcies after 10 years
Civil suits, civil judgments, and arrest records, after seven years from the date of entry
Paid tax liens after seven years
Accounts placed for collection after seven years
Any other negative information (except criminal convictions) after seven years
A background check is certainly a good sign that you may get hired--but that doesn't mean your job search is over! Keep on applying to as many positions as you're qualified for.
For more job search advice and resume tips for our experts, follow ZipJob on Quora.
Good luck with your job search!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.