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What Percentage of Employers Do A Criminal Background Check?

As professional resume writers in Colorado Springs, we get asked a lot of questions about how companies do background checks on employees. Applicants worry that a minor misdemeanor or felony from years ago could stop them from getting their dream job. But does every firm do full, criminal background checks on employees?

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The facts show that more companies perform background checks on employees than those who don’t. After all, businesses need to protect their bottom line, and employing people who could put that at risk isn’t necessarily a good investment.


Let’s take a look at some key facts surrounding checks and the best methods of getting yourself employed — despite background checks.


What Is a Criminal Background Check?

When you apply for a job, an employer may decide to verify the information you’ve provided. This could involve performing identity checks, contacting any references you’ve provided, and running a criminal background check.


Criminal background checks pull up your criminal record. Your potential employer will be able to see any convictions. In some states, this includes those that have been expunged or from before you were 18 years old.


How Companies Perform Background Checks

For most companies, a third party will carry out these checks. These organizations often have a track record of efficiency and reliability, providing clear data within a short period. This allows companies to shorten their time-to-hire — or alternatively, give an applicant the bad news that they won’t be progressing to the next stage.


One in three Americans has some sort of criminal record. Savvy employers are aware of these stats, which is why they perform checks to better understand the people they’re interviewing and employing.


Images with circles and the different types of background checks such as "Criminal, Credit Report, Drug test, Employment and Education Verification, Driving History, Reference Check, Social Media Check"

The Percentage of Employers Carrying Out Background Checks

It may surprise job applicants to learn that 94% of employers in the United States perform criminal background checks on employees. If they’re concerned by what they find, they could decide not to hire you.


Here are some reasons why an employer may not want to hire someone with a criminal record:


  • Protecting the company’s reputation

  • Considerations for the safety and well-being of other employees

  • Bias that assumes those with a clean record will be higher-quality applicants

  • To avoid wasting time and money training someone potentially unreliable


It’s clear that some of these assumptions come from a discriminatory viewpoint. But it’s tricky to prove discrimination if an employer has another candidate to hire. They can simply state that the other candidate was better suited to the role. If you were the only successful candidate, the employer would need to disclose if the background check prevented you from employment.


Tips for Reducing the Stress of Background Checks

But how can applicants mitigate these risks? You want to get hired and your first instinct is to hide past convictions.  But what’s the point of doing this, when most companies perform those criminal background checks? We’ve got some better recommendations that help remove stress and help get you hired.


Be Open and Transparent

Companies will appreciate it if you simply relay your concerns. Whether it’s a speeding ticket or a conviction for minor fraud, be upfront about the crime and the circumstances.


Legally, an employer must take the context into consideration and may be impressed by your honesty. They may still perform the background check, to confirm the accuracy of what you’ve told them. But when they find out everything you’ve said is true, they can start to build a picture of a reliable, trustworthy applicant.


Work from the basis that they’re going to find out anyway, so why not be the one to tell them?


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Consider if Something Needs to be Mentioned

While honesty is generally the best policy, there are convictions that your prospective employer won’t necessarily care about. Also, there are crimes that a background check may not be able to see — although this largely depends on what state you’re in.


In California, for example, employers have no right to uncover juvenile criminal records. If you’re applying for a job in this state, you don’t need to disclose anything dealt with under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.


All States Have Different Laws Concerning Background Checks

Not all states have the same laws, though. The “Ban-the-Box” legislation means Colorado employers can’t ask applicants to divulge upfront if they have a criminal record. The idea behind this is to give ex-convicts a chance to find work and make something of themselves. That doesn’t stop employers from performing their own background checks, though.


And, in Colorado, employers can access juvenile conviction records. The laws surrounding these checks mean the following:


  • Employers need an applicant’s written consent to perform these background checks.

  • Employers also must tell applicants if the result of a check could mean that there’s a chance they won’t get hired.

  • Any hiring decisions made on the back of a background check must be explained, in full, to applicants.


These Colorado laws are in place to ensure all employers give applicants a fair chance.


Work with Third-Party Resume Writers

If you’re concerned that your past could prevent you from getting the job of your dreams, it’s worth investing in some third-party assistance. If you’re going for a government role, for example, even a minor infraction appearing on your background check could be problematic.


Work with a local provider of federal resume writing services who can adjust your application to highlight openly and honestly any past events you’re concerned about. They can help you pick the right language and tone to have the best chance of impressing recruitment staff while avoiding lying about historical misdemeanors.


Be Honest and Trust Employers to Give You a Fair Chance

Other than convictions that won’t have any bearing on your employment, you should disclose anything that might impact your employer’s decision to hire you. Recruitment professionals are all encouraged to follow “Fair Chance Employment” practices, which advise them to provide equal opportunities to people from a range of backgrounds.


Be up front, and you should find that most employers will treat you with fairness and take your honesty and openness into account.

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