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Pre-Employment 101: How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

Every employer only wants the best for their company. That is why they thoroughly go through every applicant’s resume to find the right person for the position. The process often includes a resume review, an interview, and a background check. If you are an ex-felon looking for work, these steps might discourage you. 

Before you deny yourself of that opportunity, perhaps it would help if you know how the process works, particularly the background check. Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about background checks for job applicants.

How Far Do Background Checks Go?

Here is what you should know: employers are free to do a background check as far as they would want to go. That is according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). However, you should also know that this rule could change, depending on where you and the company are. 

Certain states gave a limit to this law, and all companies should comply accordingly. The number of years would differ per state, but the most common in most states is a maximum of seven years. That means if you have committed a crime 10 years back in a state with this law, then the locals would no longer provide companies with that information. 

Some of these states are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Washington. 

Now there are some instances where the rule is tweaked in certain situations. For example, in California, seven years is the maximum. However, if the job has a big salary offer (for example, a salary of more than $125,000/month), the employer could increase the background check duration to up to 10 years max. That is because of their need for additional security for the more prominent position. 

Some states check your record from up to 10 years ago only. Meanwhile, there are states that would not include your name in their records should you plead not guilty of a crime. To feel more at ease, research the policies given in your state to know what to expect in the application process. 

Does That Mean I Can Relax Now?

If you find your state has a seven-year maximum limit for the background check, and the crime you got convicted of happened 15 years back, do not feel too relaxed quickly. Indeed, the locals would not allow the company to check their records further. However, remember that some companies would still find a way to locate your records through other means. So the best thing you can do is to prepare for all possible scenarios. 

How Would I Know If My Conviction Would Appear in the Background Check?

If you are curious about the background check results, you can always check them yourself. Search for yourself in your local records or over the internet. That is the best way for you to know what to expect. 

The consequences of this result would vary depending on many factors. It would depend on what the job is about, its values, and what the company thinks about ex-felons.


Now that you know how the process works, you can prepare yourself and feel more confident about your application. While there are companies that would look at the background of their applicants, know that it is not the sole basis of these employers’ decisions. Still, do your best and show them why you deserve the position. 

What kind of jobs can an ex-felon get in Oklahoma? Do I need a clean record to land a job at a particular company? To know the answers to these questions, read more other articles from our site. Fallen Valor is dedicated to helping people get a second chance in life and career. Join our community to be the first to hear about new company postings and news.