What do Background Checks Show?

January 1, 2021 | By Shane Phelps Law
What do Background Checks Show?

Most employers these days use background checks to evaluate potential employees, but what does a background check show?

Criminal History

In general, most background checks include a criminal history check which performs a “scan” of your criminal record by using your Social Security number. Criminal background checks will reveal felony and misdemeanor convictions as well as arrests.

These checks also reveal:

  • Ongoing criminal investigations
  • Pending criminal cases
  • History of incarceration
  • Pending arrests

Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may be disqualified automatically if the background check reveals a criminal history.

You may not get the following jobs with a criminal record:

  • Child care
  • Healthcare
  • Law enforcement
  • Government jobs
  • Retail, depending on the products/services sold and the nature of your convictions
  • Teaching, especially if you have a record of violent crimes and crimes against children

Typically, these checks look up to seven or more years into the past to find charges, convictions, and arrests.

Credit Checks

You might wonder why an employer would need to look at your credit history, but some financial positions may want to evaluate your ability to manage your finances before allowing you to assist with someone else’s. Accountants, fiduciaries, and Chief Financial Officers may also undergo a credit check before getting the job.

Social Media

While perusing social media isn’t technically a part of a traditional background check, many employers check your social media accounts to see if you post confidential information or spread misinformation about former employers and clients.

In many ways, checking social media is more of a character evaluation than a background check. The employer wants to see whether you fit into the company culture.


Fingerprinting is an umbrella term for a variety of checks that are done by scanning your fingerprint. These checks provide an extra level of security because there is no doubt that any records belong to you. Your fingerprint is usually run through the FBI criminal records database and other database systems. Fingerprint background checks usually yield personal information and historical information about you.

Level 2 Background Checks

Some background checks are more thorough than others, and a Level 2 check is one of the most specialized fingerprint checks available. These usually evaluate candidates for jobs that involve children, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Even volunteer positions at schools or senior centers may require a Level 2 background check. In some cases, prospective foster or adoptive parents may have to undergo a Level 2 check.

What makes Level 2 background checks so specialized is that they reveal specific records about violent crimes against vulnerable persons and even uncover sealed records and juvenile convictions.

Other Important Facts

  • For doctors and other specialized workers, a DWI conviction must be disclosed to the hospital and medical boards in your area. Additionally, any medical practitioner with a DWI conviction may find themselves unable to find employment.
  • Jobs that require the operation of vehicles may look into speeding tickets, accident reports, and other driving infractions that may suggest risky behavior behind the wheel.
  • Texas background checks are not limited to 7 years.
  • Expunged records may show up on the background check, mainly if you apply for a job with the FBI or other government body.

Ultimately, what shows up on a background check depends on your history, the job position, and employer preferences.