Some people are concerned about what types of information will appear when a potential employer performs background checks. Some wonder if it is an invasion of privacy or if there are details that could cause an employer to reject them. While it is true that certain personal information is revealed, by law there are certain things for which the employer cannot deny you the position.

The amount of information that your potential employer can see depends on how extensive the background checks are. It is important to understand that these checks are not just for criminal records, but they are also for verification of things you may have written on your resume or application.

Information commonly found on background checks include your social security number, education records, criminal records, state licensing records, drug testing, bankruptcy, past employers, worker's compensation, and references. Some reports will reveal credit report information and driving records. Worker's compensation information is used to determine whether or not there is a physical problem that will interfere with the job in question. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, they cannot discriminate based on disability.

Depending on the nature of the job, negative information on some of these records could discourage them from hiring you. For example, moving violations on your driving record could keep you from getting a job as a driver. Criminal histories are only viewable by certain types of employers such as childcare facilities and public service jobs.

Bankruptcy, civil cases, arrest records, collections and paid tax liens all have a statute of limitations on them, and cannot be kept on record after a certain number of years (generally 7 years, 10 years for bankruptcy). Employers cannot dismiss your application as a direct response to your filing for bankruptcy.

It is good to know what your potential employers can find out about you. If you know that you have negative information on file, be prepared to explain if they ask you about it. Otherwise, be honest when applying, because many things can be verified.

Originally published May 17, 2011 10:07 AM