Imagine this: You send in your resume to a prospective employer. They do a background check on you. The report comes back and you see a background check job title discrepancy. I.e. one job title that you listed on your resume is not the same as what came up on the report.
Here’s one example from someone on Reddit, “Everything came back as accepted other than one discrepancy on my reported previous title. I listed “Manager of Operations” and the response finding came back as “Operations Lead.” I was in fact an Operations lead when I was hired in, but shortly after my title was remapped to Manager of Operations as we all reported directly to a Director of Operations.”
What do you do in this situation? Is this a red flag for the recruiter? What other types of background check discrepancies are there? I’m here to answer all these questions and more. This way, you’ll know all you need to know. So let’s go!
What Is a Background Check Discrepancy?
Simply put, a background check discrepancy is information from official sources that doesn’t align with what you provided. With this employee background check, the human resources (HR) department can confirm the information you provided in your job application.
Quick fact: According to the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), at least 94% of companies undergo an applicant’s background check process. You’ll most likely have to do this when applying for a new job.
Now, in your case, “The job title I listed on my resume isn’t the same as the one on my employment background check.” But that isn’t the only type of discrepancy. Let’s look at the more serious issues…
Identity Verification Discrepancy
Here’s a very serious issue that will have your application canceled immediately. Not only that, you’ll be reported to the police, too. This is if you change your identity to deceive an employer during the job application process.
If you fail a background check in this category, you may face criminal charges, civil lawsuits, or any legal action taken by the employer. You don’t want to put yourself in this kind of risk.
Criminal Background Check Discrepancy
Here’s another serious discrepancy. You say you don’t have any criminal history, but the background check report comes back with a felony under your name. To be sure, this will verify to your new workplace that you’re hiding something.
Even if it’s nothing too serious, that can be a big deal and build suspicion from the hiring managers. The HR professionals can look more into your criminal records or completely dismiss your application. Either way, this might result in the loss of a job opportunity.
Employment History Verification Discrepancy
For this scenario, you say that you worked with a certain company. However, the background check company proves that you never worked there. This big red flag might make a potential employer dismiss your application altogether.
Why? Besides lying, this proves that you don’t have the skills or experience you claimed when applying for a job.
Educational Credential Discrepancy
If a candidate’s resume claims that they studied, say, medicine, a medical hiring process might want to conduct background checks on their education history. This is an easy way to avoid fake certification.
If you fail the background check and don’t have the educational credentials you boasted, you may not be suitable for the job offer.
Let’s say you listed that you earned $80,000 a year from your previous company. But when the report came back, it said that you only earned $70,000 a year. This is another discrepancy that a company uses against individuals who want a job position.
This might not be as big a lie as the previous discrepancies, but it will still put a bad taste in your name. And since the job market is highly competitive, it’ll be even harder to stand out.
Job Title Discrepancy
Do job titles show up on a background check? Yes, all information about a previous job will come up. So a job title discrepancy is when your job title on your resume doesn’t align with the report.
This is the least of the discrepancies that I mentioned here. However, it might still worry you, especially if it was an honest mistake. Well, if you’re in this situation, you might be wondering, “What to do with a background check job title discrepancy?”
What Should You Do if You Have an Employee Background Check Discrepancy?
If we’re talking about background check job title discrepancy, it shouldn’t be a big deal. This is especially true if the titles are somewhat similar.
Here’s what someone from Reddit said, “It’s very rare that anyone cares what your job title is because every company uses different job titles anyway. Assuming they’ve validated what you did at work through reference checks, it shouldn’t make any difference.” Someone else said, “Most background checks focus on criminal records and things of that nature. A minor discrepancy in job titles should be a non-issue. If it comes up, your explanation is perfectly legit.”
So if you’re undergoing employment verification, you can easily fix the issue of a job title error in the background check report. It’s even easier if you have proof that you did what your job title describes. This is why it’s good to ask for a reference from your previous employer.
But what if your background report shows discrepancies in the more serious matters? What do you do then?
Backgroundchecks.com gives this advice to employers:
Did you discover a discrepancy so concerning that it has made you decide to move past an applicant? Remember their rights and your requirements under the FCRA. You will need to first issue a pre-adverse action notice along with a copy of the background report and allow the individual a reasonable amount of time to respond before you can issue the final notice of adverse action.
If your potential employer follows this advice, then you’ll have time to respond. It may have just been a misunderstanding. For example, you may have been accused of a felony charge but were only convicted for a misdemeanor charge. Or, maybe your felony case was already dropped or dismissed. You can explain that.
In the case of employment history, small mistakes, such as the start date of your previous company, can be forgiven. I mean, clerical mistakes can happen (plus, human memory isn’t very reliable).
But if you straight out lie that you worked in a certain position or company but the employer denies that then you’re in big trouble. You can say goodbye to the job opportunity altogether.
All in all, if there is a good explanation for the discrepancies, you may still have a chance of getting the job. But if you are dishonest, that will be harder to get out of (if you can).
How to Avoid Background Check Discrepancies
OK, sometimes discrepancies are unavoidable, especially if it’s an honest mistake. Take listing your job title differently for example.
If you want to be extra careful, you can check the employment records. This will show employment dates, job titles, and responsibilities. It’s also a good idea to double-check your details.
But what about the more serious matters? The answer is simple: Be honest. Don’t try to hide or lie.
Sure, you might be a bit worried about admitting that you have a criminal charge. But it will be better if you’re honest about it than try to hide it and the HR finds out through the background check. Plus, if you tell the recruiter straight away, you have a better chance of explaining yourself.
Read More: Can You Put Future Things on Your Resume?
One last thing. You should always stay informed about your background. If you regularly check your criminal record, credit history, or other public records, you’ll be able to spot discrepancies on your resume. So before you submit your application, you can change it up and be prepared to explain any issues during the hiring process.
What should you do if you have a background check job title discrepancy? That shouldn’t be too big a deal. You just need to provide a reference of your job description if asked about it.
But if you have more serious discrepancies, such as a criminal charge or employment history qualification, you may have to give more explanation or you may lose the job opportunity immediately. It will depend on the hiring company.
If you want to avoid these discrepancies, then you must be honest. You can also check employment records, double-check your details, and regularly scan your public records.