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  • Nic Decker

"How Long Do Background Checks Take?"


Guest Opinion: When you’re looking for a job, the application process may feel like forever.

After all, it would help if you had gainful employment to survive.


Trying to find the best candidate for your company isn’t always the easiest. But if you’re trying to wade through countless applications for your position, it’s a little more challenging to navigate. There are resumes to look through, applicants to talk to, interviews to conduct, and processes you have to follow. From the outside, it seems like a simple procedure. From a company standpoint, it is anything but that.

What are the most important considerations in a background check? Once you have applied for a job, the employer is going to review your history quickly. They’ll likely skim your application and resume for relatable skills or qualifications, any credentials that would be helpful, and any significant indications you’re unfit for the job. This process is called shortlisting applicants and will help the hiring manager in filling the position. After interviewing potential candidates, employers will ask applicants for written confirmation to complete a background check. This process will look at several areas as a snapshot of your history. Depending on the job, many companies will review different sections with higher priority. For example, a company specializing in driving motor vehicles will place your driver’s abstract in higher priority than your educational background. On the other hand, a highly specialized position with a company will consider your educational certifications and credit report. There isn’t one specific area that others will review more highly, as it’s entirely dependent on the company’s requirements.

When Will I Receive the Background Report? The answer to this question is, it depends. If you’re an employer ordering a report, it may take several days to receive the information back for job applicants (although it’s usually delivered the same day). Delays with government offices, out-of-country clearances, and backlogs can influence the return rate. If you’re ordering a free background check for personal use, the report is sent via email within a few hours.

Often the delays in receiving a report occur when an individual has lived outside the United States, as access to the information isn’t as accessible. Non-US employers, officers, and courts may be backlogged at the time of the request. Likewise, there may be additional documentation requirements before completing the check. These delays are minimal in comparison to background checks done before online technology existed.

What used to take companies months to review and complete can now be finalized within days. As such, individuals are offered employment positions faster, without needing a background report contingency (the ability to withdraw the employment contract if the results aren’t satisfactory), and without unnecessary risk of hiring without a background check.

Are personal background checks received faster than employment background checks? As a general rule, ordering a personal background check will be faster than an employment check. That’s because all information contained within a personal report is public access. Additionally, employers must have all requests for background checks in writing and signed by applicants, which can delay the process.

When Should I Hear Back From an Employer About My Results? Once the hiring manager has received the background check report, they will typically review it for any significant areas of concern. Criminal records, financial mishaps, and personal identity issues are all common reasons for disqualification. If an employer disqualifies you from a position based on the report, they will notify you (typically by email or telephone) and send you a copy of the report they used. With that report, you’ll also receive notice of the company hired should you want to file a dispute.

Can an Employer Still Hire Me With a Failed Background Check? An employer can make a hiring decision for their company, regardless of any information found on the background check. Unfortunately, most companies will use the report findings to disqualify candidates, as some results (like extensive criminal history) can pose a severe liability for staff, customers, and the company overall. If you have any questions about disqualifying criteria within a company, you can contact the company anonymously for clarification. Some companies are forthcoming about this information, whereas other companies will indicate it’s on a case-by-case basis.

Are Background Checks Mandatory? No. Background checks are not mandatory by law, although many require them to complete the application process. A background check limits the potential risk to the business, especially regarding employee liability on the job.

What if the Information in my Background Check isn’t Accurate? Occasionally, an individual may claim the findings in the report aren’t accurate. Whether the person has a common name, similar profile to another person or a specific portion of the report isn’t reflecting current and accurate information, it can influence a hiring decision. It’s essential to monitor your background check information regularly, to notice any changes to your history.

Any inaccuracies should be reported immediately to the proper channels, especially if it involves borrowed or stolen identity. Suppose you’ve applied for a job and have identified false information. In that case, it’s easier to disclose this to a potential employer (along with steps you’ve taken to remedy the problem) than it is for them to discover it on their own.

How often should I monitor my background Check Information? Ideally, you’ll want to monitor your information monthly. Some background check websites offer ongoing monitoring of your report and send you a notification if something changes. These sites are ideal for job hunters, as they’ll always know what’s happening to their personal information during the application process. Likewise, many employers find the monthly monitoring services helpful when their employees are on a performance contract. Working with children and vulnerable populations, for example, often requires close monitoring of criminal activity to limit potential risks and liabilities. Likewise, a finance company will closely monitor the personal credit reports of staff to identify any individuals who may need some extra coaching (especially if they’re responsible for high-value profiles). Limiting risk from both an applicant and an employer position is exceptionally wise.


Author: Guest Writer

Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2021 - 10:43 a.m.

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