One of the top questions we receive at GroupOne Background Screening is why a potential employee failed their background check. While we cannot speak for the companies utilizing our services, we can offer some advice for those hoping to have that “A+” background report.

Let’s say you navigated the treacherous interview process and landed a job offer. Congratulations! But before you make plans to meet your new coworkers and buy that cheerful plant for your office window, you’ll need to get through the final hurdle – the dreaded background check.

In today’s modern business world, the practice is becoming increasingly common, with an estimated 72 percent of employers running background checks on new employees before hiring them. While you may believe you have nothing to hide, there are several reasons why you might fail a background check and lose the dream job.

1. Criminal history
Perhaps you were convicted of a crime several years ago, but have had a clean record since. Depending upon the situation, including the severity and type of crime, a company could very well rescind its offer. Oftentimes, employers may consider moving forward depending on its relation to the business at hand.

What can you do if you have a criminal past? Be prepared to provide an explanation. Simply put – be truthful and come clean. While today’s “Ban the Box” movement is becoming commonplace, most employers will check to see if you’ve been convicted of a crime prior to the final job offer. It always pays to be honest and ask for an opportunity to explain what went wrong. But if you attempt to cover it up, you will lose out on the job.

2. Credit history
Many people believe their credit score is a personal matter having nothing to do with a potential job. This is not the case in most states, as employers are allowed to access your credit history. If you have a poor credit history, you could miss out on a job offer. If the job requires handling money and you cannot manage your own finances, how can you be expected to manage your company’s?

It always pays to work on boosting your credit rating before the job search. If you have an average score, try paying as much outstanding debt as quickly as possible. This reduces your credit utilization ratio, which is a key factor when calculating your score. You should definitely look at your credit report to make sure it’s correct. It’s estimated as many as 20 percent of credit reports have errors. If you spot one and fix it, you’ll be less likely to lose out on a job offer.

3. Your education
Did you go to college for a few semesters, but never obtained your degree? Perhaps you skipped college altogether, but fudged your credentials on your resume? Never a good idea.

As part of your background check, employers ask us to verify your educational credentials are what you claim them to be. In fact, there is no easier way to expose a fraudulent resume than to exaggerate your education or credentials. If a company wants to hire you, but discovers you don’t, in fact, have that bachelor’s degree, a job offer will be immediately rescinded.

Don’t lie about your education. If you only attended three out of four years of college, tell the truth. If a company likes your experience, they may be willing to work with you. Sometimes a company will hire you on the condition you complete your degree within two years, perhaps even allowing you to work classes into your schedule. Always be truthful about your credentials and play up other skills and experience on your resume instead.

At GroupOne, we make it our business to verify everything on a job applicant’s resume. Background checks are so common today, a person can no longer exaggerate or “fudge” their history. If you get caught in a lie, or fail the background check, a company is far less likely to hire you. As in life, when looking for a job, always be truthful.