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What Red Flags Do Employers Look for in Background Checks

Criminal records are the most important piece of information in a background investigation, but it’s not the only thing. If you’re applying for a job and you have no criminal history, this doesn’t mean that the potential employer won’t find other “red flags” that concerns them.

Perhaps you were dishonest about where you graduated from college or the certification you hold. Maybe you recently filed for bankruptcy or had a civil lawsuit filed against you. Background checks are used for far more than sharing criminal history, and there are plenty of warning signs that employers are trained to look for. Let’s take a look.

Legal Implications

If you’ve been in the courtroom a lot lately, even if it’s for insignificant or personal matters, a potential employer won’t find this favorable. It could indicate that you don’t have a control on your behavior (which could affect job performance) or that you will be distracted on the job.

Examples of legal issues include multiple divorce filings, workers comp claims, contract disputes, allegations of fraud and defamation or slander suits.

Professional Concerns

Business leaders and politicians aren’t the only ones who fudge their professional credentials. Plenty of everyday people do it, too. And many think that employers won’t look close enough to figure it out, but many will. It’s fine to glorify some of the experience that you have, but it’s not okay to lie about it.

Some of the most common falsehoods found when running through a background check are fictitious education credentials, false claims of prior job responsibilities, unreported work history, degrees from diploma mills and falsified military careers.

Financial Issues

Many people go through tough times, so a recent bankruptcy filing or judgement doesn’t necessarily raise a red flag. However, there are other behaviors that don’t look very good when paired with a bankruptcy, such as owning fancy cars and investing in high stock.

Other financial issues that may look suspicious to an employer are poor credit history, living beyond means, tax liens, significant alimony, tax disputes and hidden corporate affiliations.

Personal Life

A new employer wants to know a bit about who you are. While the impression you portray during an interview is important, the employer will look for other clues about the type of person you are. Aside from a quick search on social media, expect employers to run a background check to identify consistent negative behavior.

Red flags include multiple spouses, multiple social security numbers or aliases, a negative social media presence, variations of date of birth, unusual address history and significant political connections.



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