The self background check is gradually catching on in the US as a resume strategy for professional-level jobseekers. It's seen as a way to gain an edge - a small but sometimes crucial edge - in today's brutal job market.
So what's it all about? The idea is simply this. Before any employer will hire you they will do an employment screening report, essentially a background investigation, on you, in which you'll be checked for criminal records, bankruptcies, judgments, tax liens, etc., and your college degree and past employment will be verified.
With the self background report you offer the employer reassurance that, when they conduct their background investigation on you, there will not any surprises. It's as simple as that, and it works.
The employer wants to be sure you are who you say you are, you have no criminal record (at least no felonies), you have the degree you claim, and you held the positions you say you did. All that's pretty reasonable, especially since - according to some studies - as many as a third of white-collar applicants lie about their qualifications on their resumes or job applications.
Doing a self background check, or as it's more often called, a self-check employment screening report, can indeed reassure the employer that, if they decide to hire you, there won't be any surprises when they check you out. (Most employers use employment screening firms, such as HireRight.com, to handle all their background checks; few do this work inhouse.)
This is not a small matter. If a company makes a candidate an offer, then has to retract it because something negative crops up in his/her employment screening report, the company has wasted time and money, plus now has a potential lawsuit on their hands for having taken an "adverse action" against a job candidate (such suits are not at all rare).
So let's say you're a hiring manager and you are considering two applicants - equally qualified - for a job opening, one of which has included a self-check employment screening report (self background check) along with his/her resume. Which will you choose? Chances are, you'll lean toward the latter candidate. It's just human nature to take the safer route.
But there's yet another important reason to have a self-background check done. What if employment screening companies are reporting wrong information about you? For example, what if they're reporting that you have a criminal record when you don't? Or that you've been through a bankruptcy when you haven't?
Something like this can and does happen. And you'll probably never find out unless you do a self-background check report on yourself.
So how do you go about getting one of these reports? Well, there are hundreds of background-investigation companies online clamoring for your business. You can just pick one and pay the fee. However this is not the best idea because you're not really looking for a garden-variety background check. You're looking for an employment screening report, one which comes from a reputable employment screening company, which you can attach to your resume.
An employment screening report differs from a straight background check in several ways, for example, the former contains verifications - specifically, of your college degree and of your past employment. Straight background checks don't contain this type of information.
So you need to find a reputable employment screening company - not just a background check company - to do your report for you. This is a bit harder. Most employment screening companies do not want to do self background check type employment screening reports. They are set up to work for employers, not for jobseeking individuals, and they like volume orders, not single orders. Most will turn down your request for a self background check.
However there are a few smaller employment screening companies which will do your self background check for you - some, of course, will do a better job than others.
Note that most of these companies will not send you a printed report. They will send you a URL address and password with which to access your report online. Then, when you submit your resume, you can inform your potential employer you have had a self background check done, and you can supply the URL and password or offer to provide them upon request. Alternatively, you can simply print out the background report and attach it to your resume. Personally, I would use the latter method, simply because it's more likely to have an impact.
Background investigations, including self background checks, are part and parcel of our new Internet-suffused society. You may not be aware of it, but the next time you visit a CPA to have your taxes done, that CPA may run an Internet-generated background check run on you before accepting you as a new client! So may a lawyer you wish to hire, or even a Web design firm! Many companies and professionals, large and small, now have background-check companies on retainer and with a couple mouse clicks can check you out. Maybe it's time to consider getting ahead of the curve by checking yourself out first to be certain the info that's being disseminated about you is correct.
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