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Celebration time! You’ve filled out hundreds of applications, interviewed dozens of employers, and finally received an offer! But wait – your request is dependent on a background check and drug test? Panic sets in as you have never had to do a background screening or a drug test before, and you have no idea what to expect.

What is your new employer looking for exactly? How far back will they check? And why do you need a drug test?

Background checks (also called background screening, employer screening, or employment verification) are widespread and, generally speaking, a piece of cake! Around 95% of employees in the U.S. are screened in some fashion before they are officially hired for a job. Worry no more! Today, we’ll take you through the ins –and outs of a background screening to put you at ease and get you to work.

Candidates in the U.S. are screened in some fashion before officially being hired for a job. We will take you through the ins and outs of a background screening to put you at ease and get you into your dream job.

Let’s demystify the most common background checks.

Employment Verification
With your consent, your future employer can request that we contact your past employers to verify that you were employed there. The CRA will contact your former employers to confirm the dates and positions held. References may also be contacted.

ProTip: Have your pay stubs or W-2s ready to speed along the verification process. Sometimes the CRA cannot reach your former employer, or they are no longer in business, which will help.

Like employment, the CRA will contact educational institutions to verify your course of study, degrees, and professional licenses. Many educational institutions don’t respond directly to requests for information and instead subscribe to an education record reporting provider. These providers verify student records, transcripts, and degrees and protect against fraudulent information supplied by “diploma mills.”
ProTip: As with verifying employment, you might be asked to provide a copy of your transcript, certificate, or degree.


Criminal Records
The CRA may search county, state, and federal courts for criminal records. How far back in history they go is determined by the employer’s requirements and the FCRA or state or local laws. The FCRA and some states restrict the reporting of convictions that occurred more than seven years ago unless certain exceptions are met.


An identity search verifies that you have a validly issued ID and that your name is assigned to that ID number. The search is performed through various sources, depending on where your ID was issued.
ProTip: You may be asked to provide your driver’s license or passport, so have them ready.


Motor Vehicle Record
If your role involves driving, your future employer will likely check your motor vehicle record (MVR). An MVR is often necessary for them to provide you with a work vehicle.
ProTip: It’s best to discuss with your prospective employer and disclose anything on your MVR that might raise a red flag, such as speeding tickets or driving-related crimes.


Drug Testing
If your employer requires a drug test, you will be asked to go to a collection site and provide a sample, typically urine, saliva, or hair. The types of tests performed, such as what drugs are in scope for the test, are determined by your future employer. For example, while many states have legalized marijuana (medically or for recreational adult use), not all states require that employers accommodate its use. Check with your future employer if you have questions about the drug test and their workplace drug policy.

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