Employers Reconsider Background Investigation Policies

It might now be easier for those who have been arrested or convicted of a crime to get a job, after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) fined Pepsi $3.13 million for having a criminal background check policy that adversely discriminated against 300 African-American applicants.

The ruling, along with the “Ban the Box” movement that seeks to remove the criminal history question from job applications, has employers reconsidering their background investigation policies and practices. But despite the pending policy shift, you should know a few things while in the job market.

While employers are allowed to consider an applicant’s criminal record, they will probably be more diligent about following the guidelines, which state that the offense has to be serious, fairly recent and work-related before they can deny employment. Also, they can’t have a policy that discriminates against applicants in a protected class.

 

Second, from this point forward employers will probably give you a chance to tell your side of the story before revoking an offer. So be prepared to explain what happened and why it won’t happen again.

Third, despite the hubbub about Pepsi’s missteps, 72 percent of employers surveyed by EmployeeScreenIQ confirmed that qualifications trump criminal records when making hiring decisions and candidates are turned down because of criminal records less than 10 percent of the time.

Dishonesty is much more likely to get you the boot. According to the employers, 40 percent of candidates distort or exaggerate information on their resumes and 83 percent say fabricating educational qualifications is the most egregious resume lie.

In fact, EmployeeScreenIQ posed two hypothetical hiring scenarios to the group, which were inspired by famous people but didn’t include their names. Ninety percent said they wouldn’t hire controversial actor Charlie Sheen and 84 percent wouldn’t hire U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, because he exaggerated his educational qualifications.

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