Job seekers beware: The market just got more crowded.
Frustrated job hunters who are doing everything they can to get hired—from tattoo removal and elaborate résumé makeovers to stalking recruiters at the gym—now have to compete with people who have criminal backgrounds and financial troubles.
Fewer organizations are conducting background checks and credit checks on prospective employees compared with two years ago, according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management.
Roughly 53 percent of respondents don’t perform credit checks when hiring, a significant increase from 40 percent in 2010, the survey showed. And the number of employers who don’t conduct criminal background checks has doubled, jumping to 14 percent this year from just 7 percent in 2010.
In fact, negative information may no longer be a barrier to hiring. A whopping 80 percent of employers reported hiring applicants whose credit checks cast an unfavorable light on their financial situation.
“Human resources professionals are looking more closely at the job-relatedness of these practices,” said Mark Schmit, SHRM’s vice president of research, in a statement. “As a result, fewer employers are using background checks, and checks are often done for specific jobs or to comply with the law.”
Other reasons for the steady decline? Employers way want to avoid legal disputes and government restrictions, according to Meredith Deliso, an expert author at BackgroundCheck.org.
“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission currently is investigating more than 100 claims of job discrimination based on criminal background checks,” she said in an email response to IDentity Theft 911. “Earlier this year, it found Pepsi Beverages Co. guilty of racial discrimination and of using criminal background checks to disqualify job applicants, some of whom were never convicted. It settled to the tune of $3.1 million. By only conducting a background check when necessary, employers can potentially avoid costly legal battles.”
A growing backlash against background checks also has led to state and government restrictions, and the decline in credit and criminal checks can be seen as a reflection of these restrictions, Deliso added. “Several states restrict or prohibit an employer from conducting credit checks, with similar legislation pending in more,” she said. “Some states also prohibit employers from disqualifying an applicant based on a criminal background check unless the conviction is found to be job-related based on an individualized analysis.”
This may chalk up to good news for job candidates whose identities have been stolen. Background checks often bring identity theft to light. When an applicant finds out during the interview process, it can cost that person the job.
Protect yourself by following our tips:
- Find out what’s on your credit file. Check your report for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com.
- Correct yourself. By law, all consumer reporting agencies must allow you to correct outdated or inaccurate information. But there’s a time window, usually 30 days after requesting that report—so act fast.
- Pick up the phone. Your bank, credit union, insurer, financial planner or attorney may offer identity theft protection that often covers shoddy background checks. If they don’t, give IDentity Theft 911 a call at 1-888-682-5911.
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