Conducting Your Own Background Check

If you are looking for a new job, odds are good that prospective employers who are seriously considering you will conduct a background check. With today’s technology, there’s no telling what they may learn about you — unless you beat them to it by conducting your own check on yourself.


Today’s employers, especially large corporations, put a lot of money into hiring and training. They want to do everything legally possible to make wise hiring decisions and be sure the person is reliable.

Some do so to avoid future liability. A trucking business, for example, could be found negligent if it hired a driver with multiple citations for drunken driving and he or she later got into an accident with the company truck while intoxicated.

In some industries, such as childcare, home health care and others, the law requires background examinations. While ordinarily only adult criminal records are checked, juvenile records are opened for prospective childcare workers.

What can employers do with this information? Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of conviction records unless the conviction substantially relates to that particular job.

Not hiring someone as a cashier who had recent convictions for bad checks likely would be reasonable. A conviction for battery on the other hand probably would not be related to a line position in a recycling plant and therefore a refusal to hire based on the conviction might be considered discriminatory.

Employers may also conduct credit checks on prospective staff members, so it’s wise to get a copy of your report and see if it reveals anything of concern. They also often look at social media like Facebook to see what candidates have posted. Keep in mind, they may also see what others have posted, such as photos of you in compromising situations.

It is a good idea to perform your own background check before you send out your résumé to check to see if there are any problems or errors. If you find problems, take the time to clean them up if you can.

How can you check to see what others may find?


    • Check adult court records. In Wisconsin, they can be found athttp://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl.

    • Check the Federal Trade Commission for credit reports.

    • Check your state department of justice. In Wisconsin, the address is http://wi-recordcheck.org/; fees are charged. You do not have access to juvenile records.

  • Review what you have posted on social media and remove embarrassing materials.



Joseph G. Veenstra is an attorney with Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC, (http://www.johnsflaherty.com), a full-service law firm based in La Crosse, Wis. According to the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC, has more top-rated lawyers than any other La Crosse law firm.

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