Does Getting Fired Show Up on a Background Check? Find Out Now

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When an employer runs a background check they are checking for many things, including your criminal background, job history, and more. Many individuals are worried that their check might also reveal if they quit their last job.

The good news is that no background checks show if a previous employer was fired, with very few exceptions. That doesn’t mean that a potential employer can’t find out, but if they do it won’t be from a conventional background check but from a more intensive pre-employment screening.

I’m going to dive further into how employment verification works, what a potential future employer will find out, and the few exceptions where getting fired could come up.

Let’s dive in!

Does Employment History Show on a Background Check?

In most cases your job history isn’t going to show up on a pre-employment background check. This means they won’t know if you were laid off, fired, or quit unless you volunteer that information.

There are very few exceptions. However, if you were dishonorably discharged from the army or a police officer involved in a major news story in a negative way that resulted in forced termination – those types of situations would be easy to find.

Otherwise a background check won’t reveal employment history, including any cases of termination. They will focus more on things like driving record, education credentials, or criminal record.

However, keep in mind that in addition to basic background checks most employers will also ask for a potential employee’s job history and may contact those places to learn more about you as a worker.

What Do Background Screenings Reveal?

A background check will focus on public records like:

  • Credit check
  • Driving record
  • Criminal record (adult – juvenile records should be sealed)
  • Failed drug tests
  • Confirming educational enrollment/credentials

These are also often important factors when it comes to hiring, and an employer may extend or withdrawal a job offer based on what they find there.

Will Being Fired Affect My Future Job Prospects?

Whether being fired affects future job prospects can depend. If you were fired for stealing, driving while drunk, or any type situation like those that led to being terminated with cause, that might affect things, at least for a while.

If you’re 40 years out and were fired when you were 16, that’s not going to affect anything.

Another factor is what former employers say about you. There are some states with very stringent rules on what can be reported – sometimes as little as confirming dates of employment, job title, and confirming that they worked for a company.

In other states a former employer can also answer whether or not they would rehire you.

That means in many states an ex-employer can’t tell that you were fired from a job during an employment background check. There are also other states where a past employer can tell a hiring manager anything, including whether or not a candidate was fired.

This also means how much getting fired will affect a current job application depends a lot on what state the candidate was working in when they were fired from a previous job.

This variability is also another reason it’s good for job seekers should do their best to control their point of contact at jobs listed in their work history.

Many employers ask job candidates for companies and a supervisor or contact point, so list references who will be more likely to paint a positive picture of you.

How to Handle Past Firings When Applying for Jobs

When applying for a new job if you can have a new employer call someone who will give you a good recommendation from a past job and not talk about disciplinary actions or getting fired, that’s who you want as your point of reference.

If because of that situation you won’t be able to do keep getting fired from a job from your new prospective employer, it’s best to be honest.

Let them know you were terminated from the last job. If you can frame it in a way that makes you look good, or at least makes it a learning experience, that can work to your advantage.

If you decide not to bring it up, don’t deny it when asked about it. You can say during the background check process that it wasn’t a good fit anymore, it was time to move on, or something similar.

Just be careful not to say anything patently untrue that throws a past employer under the bus – defamation is a nasty word you don’t want to deal with.

Improving Your Employability After Being Fired

While a candidate’s employment history is important, it’s possible to make yourself a very attractive potential hire to many companies. Your past work history is just one part of what makes you a good or bad candidate.

There are several ways you can make yourself look better as a candidate before going through the hiring process for another company.

These are actions that can overshadow how a previous job ended and include:

  • Picking up additional skills and certifications
  • Adding a technical skill or certification to your list of work skills
  • Practice mock interviews to prepare for future ones
  • Customize your resume & cover letter for the position you’re applying to
  • Avoid practices or habits that could commonly result in a termination

A few small practices can go a long way to helping you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Final Thoughts

While a background check isn’t likely to show that you were fired from a past job, that doesn’t mean this information won’t come out at some point. Being prepared to address any questions on the topic also makes you more likely to get a new job.

Many good workers have been laid off or fired. That’s not a disqualifier from a new job, but stumbling over questions about why you were let go would be a problem.

Take the proper precautions to minimize damages, know your privacy rights as a previous employee, and work on constantly making yourself a more attractive job candidate and you will be able to overcome a past firing to get a quality new job.

Written by Shane Dayton

Shane, an MFA grad and seasoned online writer, specializes in security and privacy, using his vast state-to-state travel experiences to guide readers through the complexities of information safety in a digital world. Read more of Shane's articles.