What To Do While Waiting For Your Background Check To Clear

Congratulations, you’ve got the job! Well, sort of. In many cases, an official verbal or written job offer may be contingent upon successfully completing a background check. While this is true of most large, global organizations, sometimes it can extend even to small businesses. So what’s a job seeker to do? Here are a few practical tips if you find yourself in this scenario where you feel like you’re in limbo.

waiting for background check

Decide Whether You Will Tell Your Current Employer

This can seem like a no-brainer, but in the whirlwind of being offered and accepting a job, you may forget that things aren’t exactly official until you’ve cleared your background check. One of the first things you need to do is decide when you will give your current employer notice about your departure. While it depends on your circumstance — and the ultimate decision is up to you and no one else — it may be wise to wait until you’ve got the green light confirmation from your background check before you tell your employer. That’s because the process may take longer than you anticipate, and you won’t want to be stuck in a position where you’re now out of a job but can’t start your new job yet.

Be Patient

While this can sometimes seem like an arduous or even frustrating process for job seekers, remember that it’s an important step for organizations to vet or screen applicants or new hires to make sure they say are who they say they are. One of the hardest parts of the process is also the most simple: waiting. Be patient because, whether you realize it or not, there is often a lot that goes on behind the scenes and it can take a while.

Inquire About Location-Specific Security Clearances

This may not be applicable to you, but there are a notable number of jobs, particularly in the D.C. area, that require job seekers to have security clearances to be eligible to work in certain jobs. According to a piece in the Washington Post: “Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there has been a major increase in government jobs and contractor positions that require secret clearances, from janitors at spy agencies to specialized computer technicians and software developers. A Washington Post series called Top Secret America examined the buildup in the country's national security and found that 854,000 Americans have top-secret clearances, nearly a third of whom work for private contractors.” Does this apply to you? For more information on security clearances, read our post to familiarize yourself.

Do Your Own Homework

What employers look into largely depends on the company, location, federal or state laws, type of job, job requirements and other factors. While it’s hard to get a sense of what specifically will be looked into, there are some more common things background screening providers look at — including criminal records, driving records, credit history, etc. — so if there is anything you suspect they may have questions about, be prepared to give them truthful answers that would alleviate concerns or clarify matters. Also, if you haven’t already, clean up and make sure all your social media profiles seem presentable to a potential employer.

Be Diligent About Communication

Don’t be afraid to check in with your recruiter or new employer to see if progress is being made or whether they require additional information from you. Go above and beyond to provide contact information you think may be helpful — for instance, provide contact information for your references as well as prior educational institutions and employers. If the name of a former employer has changed as a result of rebranding or your name has changed post-marriage, communicate these relevant details. Stay on top of your emails and voicemails to make sure you do not miss any requests for information or notifications about important appointments.

Deanna Hartley is a writer and editor who has spent the past decade publishing hundreds of print and digital bylines on topics including job search advice, career development, recruitment, HR and human capital management. Deanna has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, was formerly a senior editor at award-winning publisher Human Capital Media and a senior copywriter at CareerBuilder. She currently works as a content manager at Aon, a global professional services firm. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Business Insider, Gannett and Workforce Magazine.

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