Even though news headlines show employers are doing more thorough research in background checks, if you’re a job hunter don’t be too concerned.

There are reasons why.

It used to be that employers merely checked references. Then, many employers started doing credit checks. That was especially true for jobs related to finance.

Employers have expanded their research in background checks for more than a decade for very good reasons.

Michael Klazema

Michael Klazema

Employers have expanded their research in background checks for more than a decade for very good reasons.

“They have also been a frequent focus of news headlines as of late, with every week seeming to bring about a new story about a major employer implementing new employee background check policies,” says Michael Klazema.

He cites the University of Illinois. Perhaps surprisingly, the institution announced a new background check policy for faculty members and other workers in 2015.

Mr. Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009.

He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com.

Reasons for increase

Why the growth in background checks?

“For instance, employers run background checks on their applicants to avoid hiring dangerous or unqualified applicants,” he says.

“They run background checks to protect themselves from individuals who might damage their organization – whether by stealing company assets, instigating workplace violence, or creating public relations problems,” he asserts.

If you’re not an embezzler or have anger-management issues, should you take it personally? No.

“Remembering that employers are running background checks not as a judgment of you, but as a means of combatting unflattering statistics, is an important distinction to make.”

“While some job searchers do take background check requests from employers as a sign of mistrust, you need to remember that employers are just playing a statistics game,” explains Mr. Klazema.

“They are just familiar with various facts and figures that make pre-employment background checks a necessary protective measure,” he says. 

Alarming statistics

He points out several statistics that alarm employers:

— According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, workplace violent accounts for 18 percent of all violent crime. Employers can use background checks to weed out known violent offenders and reduce the likelihood of violent workplace altercations.

— In 2003, a report from the Society of Human Resources Management noted that more than half (53 percent) of all job applications are inaccurate in some way. Background checks can help employers verify resume information and catch applicants for lying or exaggerating about their qualifications.

— According to Fortune Magazine, employers lose about 80 percent of all negligent hiring lawsuits. Background checks help employers catch employee red flags, dodge bad hires, and avoid negligent hiring claims in the first place.

— A 2014 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners stated that the average organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue as a result of occupational fraud. Background checks can spot histories of theft, embezzlement, or fraud – helping to prevent such costly incidents from ever happening.

— In 2008, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a report claiming that more the 75 percent of consistent drug users are employed in some capacity. A company seeking to promote a drug-free workplace can use background checks to spot previous drug convictions and keep many substance abusers outside the walls.

Career advice

Mr. Klazema provides job-seeking advice:

“Remembering that employers are running background checks not as a judgment of you, but as a means of combatting unflattering statistics, is an important distinction to make,” he suggests.

If you recognize the importance of background checks as merely a tool in pre-employment screening, you will be more successful as an applicant, he adds.

“For one thing, it can encourage you to disclose any skeletons in your past so that you can explain them upfront, instead of waiting for employers to find those skeletons and make their own judgments,” he says.

If you have the slightest concern, he recommends running a self-check before you interview.

“Some background check reports do have inaccuracies, and you don’t want to be lumped in with the rest of the applicants getting red flagged by an employer,” he concludes.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more career tips:

Seeking a Job? Your Rights in Background Checks — If you’re seeking a job, you may or may not be accorded the same rights in background checks as other applicants in the United States. Why? There isn’t a norm you can expect in background checks, according to an expert.

5 Personality Traits for Personal and Professional Success — Five personality traits are important for overcoming stress and achieving goals academically, professionally and in personal relationships.

Spelling Tips to Enhance Your Communication Skills — Good communication skills start with using proper grammar and spelling. They’re central for your career growth. People who communicate stand head and shoulders above their peers.

Looking for a Job? Get a Personal Web Site for an Edge — If you’re looking for a job and competition is tough, human resource professionals say a personal Web site can be a valuable asset. Sixty-eight percent of HR professionals are looking to assess personal qualities that aren’t perceptible from a traditional resume.

Are You Struggling to Write Great Cover Letters? Here’s How — If you want to write a cover letter that will entice employers to consider you, there are several precautions to take. Otherwise, you risk sending a letter that employers won’t want to read. Here are seven strategies.

“A spare tire is something that you don’t check until you have a punctured one.”

-Vikrant Parsai


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.