When you apply for a job, employers will generally ask for your consent for a background check — even for some minimum wage positions. Companies run these checks to verify the information you filled out on your application and to protect themselves from hiring a person who could potentially harm their organization. So, as a young man with little to no experience with this formality, what shows up on a background check and what should you be concerned about? Here are some things that might come back to bite you:


Verifying your educational history is an important step, especially for more high-profile or technical positions. Sometimes an applicant can be “less than truthful” or slightly inaccurate on specific dates or merits of their education. Education verification ensures the company that the reported degrees or diplomas were indeed received by the prospective employee. Finishing your education can open the door to more skilled positions, as well as higher income.

Employment History

Employment history is much the same as educational history. I mean, who really remembers their exact starting or ending dates from a previous job? It is also to verify that they were actually employed at the places they reported and not just “fluffing” their application to make themselves look good.

Civil Records

Now we’re getting to the intimidating subjects of a background check. Civil cases cover a wide variety of offenses. These sorts of cases are classified as lawsuits in more private matters such as breach of contract or negligence. It also reaches to the enforcement of “civil remedies” such as compensation or damages.

What this means is that if you’ve ever been sued by a landlord for back-rent or have been bored and got putting graffiti on an abandoned building, it’s going to come up on your background check. Usually, these things result in payment or community service, so why not just go ahead and do something good for your community on your own. It looks good on resumes, keeps you out of trouble, and keeps trouble off your background checks.

Criminal Records

This is the big one. Criminal offenses can lead people to assess your trustworthiness depending on the degree of your crimes. This is where you get scrutinized for fines you’ve had to pay, any time you have ever been arrested and even charges still pending. Criminal offenses start out mildly with traffic charges, such as speeding and get exponentially worse from there. DUI’s and DWI’s are considered criminal as well as suspended licenses. The worst thing about criminal records is that there is no expiration date on these. They will be on your record forever most places that you go.

Luckily, these days there are so many things you can do to avoid such offenses. When you go out for a drink with your friends, take an Uber or a Lyft to avoid driving while intoxicated. Or if you know you can’t trust yourself once the buzz hits, it may be more practical to host the fun at your place.

In other words…

Background checks may seem intimidating, but just remember that they are in place for the safety of your potential employer, co-workers, and customers. Honesty, in this case, is always the best policy. If you have something on your record that you’re ashamed of or think could cause a rejection, be open about it. If you come out during your interview about something that may be questionable on your background check, instead of them being blindsided in a couple days when they find out anyway, it may be a slight boost to their view of your trustworthiness in the future. Furthermore, you can avoid the embarrassment all together by finding other things to do that won’t get you in trouble in the first place.