There’s been an uptick in pre-employment and professional background screenings. These checks include everything from fingerprinting for licensed Texas CPAs to causal social media screening done by 80% of all employers.
Expect to see many of the following ten employment background checks during your job search this year.
1. Fingerprinting for licensed professionals.
Beginning September 2019, all renewing licensees and non-CPA firm owners in Texas must complete a state and national fingerprint-based background check. Fingerprinting has already been mandated for several other licensed professionals, including doctors, nurses, architects, engineers, pharmacists, lawyers, and realtors. Texas law also authorizes fingerprint-based criminal history checks for designated volunteers and job applicants in a wide variety of areas such as childcare providers, teachers, security and armed guards, security system contractors, and more.
2. Social media checks.
Despite it being a potential liability minefield, social media is too tempting for many employers to overlook. Glassdoor reports that social media background checks are 500% more common than they were a decade ago, with 80% of recruiters and hiring managers using it to vet candidates. Many are now turning to third-party software claiming to generate social media “reports” that flag behavior like Intolerance, sexism, and violence without risking unintentional bias or discrimination. More than half of employers who use social media to screen candidates have decided not to hire someone based on their results.
3. Freelancer screenings.
When you’re a temporary worker or contractor through a reputable staffing firm like The HT Group, you’ll be background checked. That’s part of the appeal for employers to use staffing firms, and it’s in your best interest, too, because it makes getting new gigs faster and easier. Freelancers taking advantage of the gig economy traditionally get away with not being background checked, but that’s changing. Contingent workers are being screened 100% more than they were ten years ago.
4. Criminal history.
Ban-the-box—or not asking about criminal history until a job offer is made—has become standard practice for many industries. In jurisdictions like Austin, it’s the law. But enforcement is spotty, and some Texas legislators are trying to overturn it. Some job candidates mistakenly believe that the question cannot legally come up at all, but that’s not true. Even in the most regulation-heavy jurisdictions, a criminal history background check can lawfully be done before your first day on a job. If you’re worried about criminal history prohibiting you from getting a job, take these steps to help lessen the impact.
5. Credit checks.
Earlier this month, we covered how and when employers can check your credit as part of their pre-employment screenings. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal law doesn’t prevent employers from asking about financial information, but those employers need to be very careful about violating certain discrimination factors when doing so. The practice is usually reserved for those seeking work in high-level financial and security positions.
6. Delivery and home service background checks.
More and more companies are offering home visits and deliveries—from physician groups to grocery stores. With this trend comes additional background checks. There are specific requirements for employees to background check workers visiting customers’ homes. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, in-home service and residential delivery companies must perform a complete criminal history background check through DPS or a private vendor on any workers sent by the companies into customers’ homes, attached garages or construction areas next to homes unless the person is licensed by an occupational licensing agency that conducted a criminal history check before issuing the license.
7. Reference checks.
Reference checks aren’t perfect. Even the Texas Workforce Commission admits that the average telephone reference call doesn’t “yield much useable information [because] employers are concerned about being sued for giving unfavorable references.” But employers still conduct them and, on average, they’ll check with three of your references. In Texas specifically, the concerns references have for being legally burdened by what they say about you is unfounded. Former employers are protected from legal action when they give prospective employers truthful information on why the employee left or was terminated, how the employee performed on the job, and other assessment factors such as the employee’s effort, attendance and attitude. More information can be found here.
8. Education and employment history.
A Hloom study shows that employers consider lying about the college you graduated from, your former employment or work history, academic degree, college major, and GPA are the most severe resume violations you can make. Some of these lies can even land you in jail. These lies are easier to spot now than ever before thanks to AI software, simple internet searches, and even comparing a resume to a LinkedIn profile.
9. Polygraph tests.
Although unlikely, you may even be subjected to a polygraph test. The U.S. Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 all but wiped out the practice, but certain federal, state, and local government positions and highly sensitive jobs in security and that involve handling drugs can still perform them. With more high-tech security jobs like positions with the Army Futures Command Center moving to Austin, it may become a more common occurrence for local job seekers.
10. Drug tests.
Private companies in Texas have almost no restrictions when it comes to drug and alcohol testing job candidates. That being said, there should be a policy laid out that explains who is tested as well as why and how they’ll be tested. In order to adhere to federal discrimination laws, testing should be done for all job candidates in specific job categories (those who will be operating heavy machinery, for instance). And the area is getting murkier as CBD and marijuana become more widely accepted. TWC offers more information here.
And just because you’re hired doesn’t mean the screening will stop. SHRM reports that new technology lets companies monitor current employees in real-time. Drivers, in particular, will undergo more continuous screening through firms like Checkr, which gives employers ongoing updates about drivers’ records including new criminal violations and license suspensions.
If you have any questions or concerns about background checks in 2020, ask an HT Group recruiter for guidance. These days, there are few places to hide your weaknesses in a job search. Be informed and prepared to back up whatever may be lurking in your past.