Chances are, if you made it to the
background search of the hiring process, you are within a
stone's throw from landing the position. However, it could be a
Too many, underestimate the background
search phase of the process and take no steps to prepare. Yes,
there is much that can be done to improve your background. The
time to do it is not when you in the process. The time is now.
This piece is written under the
assumption that the agency conducting the background search is doing a
thorough and complete job.
What is the Background Search?
A background search is a complete
investigation of a person's life. No stone should be left
unturned. Usually, one detective is assigned to one applicant.
This allows for a more thorough investigation.
What is Investigated During a
Everything. Following are some of
the resources and functions which may be researched during a thorough
Information Center (NCIC)
Enforcement Telecommunication System. NLETS
Offender Registry and Database
and Prosecutor’s Office Records
All Public Records
Investigators Records if applicable
Search (Activity in Forums, message boards, etc.)
||Everything Else You can Imagine
A background investigation is a a
criminal background search, a personal background search, a medical,
credit, employment, education, life history, social acquaintance, and
family background search. Ideally, no stone should be left
unturned. Issuing a shield, service weapon, and all that come
with them is an immense responsibility. No stone should be left
unturned in a background search.
Some of the documents you may have to
provide to the detective conducting your background search may include
but are not limited to the following:
Who May Be Contacted in a Background
We don't care about the people you list
on your application. Of course the persons you listed in the
reference checks section will vouch for you.
We will ask each of them for the names
of three people with whom you socialize. Then, we will ask them
for three more names. Ideally, we will go several levels down
into your background and come up with persons who you did not expect
to be contacted.
Former boyfriends and girlfriends are
another interesting source of information.
Asking everyone contacted about
previous employers is another way new information is obtained.
Sure hope you listed them all on your application.
The goal of this part of the background
search is to determine if the applicant omitted any information from
What Can I do to Improve My
By now, you should have an idea of what
to expect. While agencies differ in how thorough they conduct
background investigations, you should prepare for the worst case
Improving your background means mending
Make a list of potential problems in
your background. Generally, this list will contain people who
may not speak highly of you. Once you have completed this list,
contact these people and try and repair what is broken. This may
mean having to swallow a lot of crow, but it is necessary.
If it is an old employer, pay them a
visit. Perhaps the situation can be improved with just a
If it is an old friend, give them a
If it is a former boyfriend or
girlfriend, send a letter.
Do whatever you have to do to clean up
any mess that may exist. Reaching the background search phase of
the hiring process is too important to hold grudges.
Should I List Arrests that were
In a word, yes.
Most agencies will give you an
application which asks if you had an expungement for an arrest or
conviction. You are not applying to a job just out of high
school. Do not get cute, and do not play games. When you
are turned down for a law enforcement job for lies uncovered during a
background search, you will have to explain this to every other agency
to which you apply.
Even if the application does not ask
about expungements, list them. Hopefully, it will give you
points for honesty.
What Will Disqualify Me During a
First, for those of you arrested for
minor offenses, relax. Many officers on the job today had things
pop up during their background investigation including arrests.
Generally, what will be measured will
be the seriousness of the arrest, the amount of time since the arrest,
and what you have done since the arrest. Felonies and high
misdemeanors will obviously look worse than minor offenses.
Disqualification will most certainly
result for lying on your application, serious criminal offenses in
your background, and any convictions for domestic violence offenses.
Again, it comes down to making an
effort to improve your background by improving weak areas.
There is much more we could write, but
you get the gist by now.
You should prepare for your background
search as you prepare for an exam.