How To Get a Background Check on Yourself for Employment (7 Steps)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | July 1, 2024

Man in yellow shirt holding a giant magnifying glass in front of a big mirror with an office building and professional man behind him, and on the far right an employment background check report with the title description written above explaining how to get a background check on yourself for employment.

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Knowing how to get a background check on yourself for employment is one of the best ways to avoid any surprises that might result in a failed background screening.

Depending on the type of job being applied for, there are specific checks that are run. For example, if someone is applying for a government position that requires a background check for security clearance, there are a number of areas examined.

However, when applying for a retail position, such as a Home Depot background check or a Walmart background check, the screening is less intense.

First, determine the type of employment background checks that will be run, and then perform the steps yourself first to identify any records that may present a barrier to a job offer.

There are two ways to learn how to get a background check on yourself:

  1. Use a company offering 7-day free trial background check to conduct a screening.
  2. Perform the steps yourself for each part of an employment background check.

The following steps outline how to get a background check on yourself for employment easily and quickly, depending on the type of job.

Can I Do My Own Employment Background Check?

Many people wonder, can I do my own employment background check,’ and the answer is, absolutely.

Applicants just need to have the know-how.

FBI website screenshot outlining the steps for how to get a background check using fingerprints with yellow arrows pointing to the two way options.

(Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation18)

Although applicants may not submit their results to a company, the benefit of a self-check is knowing exactly what appears on a background screening before a potential employer sees it.

How Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself? (What Gets Checked?)

There are different platforms that have the relevant information needed to run a successful employment background check. Some of these platforms and methods include:

Online Public Records

Public records include address histories, tax liens, marriage and divorce records, verification of professional licensure searches, and others.

Social Media Profiles And Posts

Social media profiles are often checked during an employment screening, except in states where it is prohibited by law.

Court Records

Court records are public, and show convictions, sentences, and dates when criminal and civil punishments were issued.

Personal And Professional References

When learning how to get a background check on yourself for employment, don’t neglect to check both personal and professional references.

Criminal History

A person’s criminal history includes arrests and other incidents that occurred with law enforcement. When fingerprints are used, the check is usually nationwide.

Driving Records

Driving records (MVR report) are often checked when a potential job involves transportation or machinery operation.

Credit Report

The credit report is usually checked for management and c-level positions but can be included in another level 2 background check report (like a nursing background check or a tech job) to ensure the applicant’s responsibility.

Social Security Number Verification

The SSN verification is used to ensure that a person is eligible to work in the U.S.

Sex Offender And Child Abuse Registry Checks

These free services can be checked by anyone, using a person’s name.

Steps To Follow When Doing an Employment Background Check

When learning how to get a background check on yourself for employment, there are specific steps to follow.

Step 1. Identify the Level of Check Needed

Before running any reports, know what kind of background checks should be conducted. The following table outlines which jobs require which areas of search:

Industry TypeEmployment Checks to Perform
Retail and ServiceCriminal History, SSN verification, Court Records, Offender registries, Social Media (Sometimes)
Professional (Accountants, Real Estate, Architects, etc.)Criminal History, SSN verification, Court Records, Offender registries, Social Media, Credit Report, Professional License Verification, Public Records
HealthcareNationwide Criminal History, SSN verification, Court Records, Offender registries, Social Media, Professional License Search, Mental Health Screening
Child and Personal CareNationwide Criminal History, SSN verification, Court Records, Offender registries, Social Media, Professional License Search, Mental Health Screening
GovernmentNationwide Criminal History, SSN verification, Court Records, Offender registries, Social Media, Professional License Search, Mental Health Screening, Personal interviews, and lifetime character, depending on the Security clearance required
Construction / Warehouse / FactoryCriminal History, SSN verification, Court Records, Offender registries, Social Media (Sometimes), MVR report

Before any potential employer can run a background check, they must obtain consent and conduct searches that are in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines.3

FCRA is the body responsible for governing the appropriate handling of consumer information by reporting agencies as a way of ensuring accuracy, fairness, and privacy.

Step 2. Obtain a Criminal History Report (Local or National)

Depending on the industry, a criminal history report will search local or national records. The process can be accomplished online. To obtain a fingerprint, do a nationwide criminal history search, navigate to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Identity History Summary website8 and follow the steps outlined to fill out the applicant information form.9

Screenshot of the Identity History Summary Request Form used to run a federal background check on yourself.

(Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation19)

The following steps outline how to get a statewide criminal history check on yourself if living in Maine:

This is a fairly standard process for all fifty states.

Step 3. Obtain Additional Records

Depending on the specific type of employment industry, state websites offer record requests that can be easily obtained. Determine which records are required and reach out to the appropriate agency to compile a report.

Step 4. Verify Personal and Professional References and Licenses

This is done by manually contacting previous employers and any agencies that maintain licensure for professionals.

Step 5. View Social Media Accounts and Profiles

To check social media accounts and profiles, use an “in private” or “incognito” tab to search for the full name.

Click on any accounts that are active and view what can be seen by the public.

If some information or old accounts need ‘cleaned up,’ log in to those accounts and remove any offending or potentially job-disqualifying information.

Step 6. Check Local and Federal Court Records

The process for checking for court records varies from state to state with some collective systems such as the PACER systems allowing for central access. PACER documents cost ten cents each and can be obtained once an account has been set up.

To conduct a local court records search, navigate to the website of the county where you reside and search for “records requests.” Smaller counties will require a personal visit or phone call to make the request using a form.6

Step 7. Run a Free Credit Report

U.S. law makes provision for all citizens to check their credit reports for free once each year. To obtain a free credit report, follow the steps outlined on the website.13

How To Get a Background Check on Yourself For Employment: Free Options To Use for Your Background Check Resources From All 50 States

Both the sex offender registry and the inmate search options are free to use when learning how to get a background check on yourself for employment.

Individuals who know they aren’t on these lists shouldn’t skip this step because data entry errors within the government DO happen, and it’s better to search these first before a potential employer does.

StateFree Sex Offender LookupFree Inmate Search
AlabamaSex Offender RegistryAlabama state prison records 
AlaskaAlaska Sex Offender Kidnapping RegistryAlaska Inmate Search
ArizonaArizona sex offenders listArizona department search
ArkansasArkansas sex offenders registryArkansas department of corrections
CaliforniaRegistered California sex offendersCDRC public inmates register
ColoradoColorado Convicted Sex OffenderFind an inmate in Colorado
ConnecticutCriminal recordsInmate search
DelawareDelaware Department of correctionDelaware court records
FloridaSexual offenders listOffender information search
GeorgiaFind an offender in GeorgiaGeorgia department of corrections
HawaiiOffenders searchHawaii prisons inmate search
IdahoIdaho Department of correctionOffenders and crime
IllinoisIllinois state police searchIndividuals in custody search
IndianaIndiana corrective servicesIndiana offender database search
IowaIowa Board of paroleIowa inmate search
KansasKansas bureau of investigationLocating an inmate
KentuckyKentucky offender searchKentucky inmate search
LouisianaLouisiana department of public safetyInmate information for Louisiana
MaineMaine state bureau of identificationAdult community corrections site
MarylandMD department of public safety and correctional servicesMaryland inmate search
MassachusettsCriminal offender record informationInmate records
MichiganSex offender registryInmate searches for Michigan
MinnesotaMinnesota offender searchMinnesota inmate search
MississippiMississippi offender searchMississippi inmate search
MissouriMissouri sex offender sex registryMODOC offenders’ search
MontanaViolent offender registryMontana department of correction
NebraskaSex offender registryNebraska dept of correctional services
NevadaNevada department of correctionsInmate records and information
New HampshireCriminal offenders NH DOSNH department of corrections
New JerseySex offender internet registryNew jersey department of corrections
New MexicoNMCD offender searchNew Mexico courts and correctional facilities
New YorkSex offender registryNYS Department of correction
North CarolinaNCSBI sex offender registryCriminal offenders search
North DakotaNorth Dakota sex offenders websiteResident lookup
Ohiosex offenders searchOhio Offenders search
OklahomaOklahoma inmate lookupOffenders search
OregonDepartment of correctionsOregon offenders search
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania informationDepartment of corrections
Rhode IslandSex offender registryRhode island department of correction
South CarolinaOffender researchSCDC department of corrections
South DakotaSD Dept. of correctionsSouth Dakota e-courts
TennesseeSex offender registryFOIL offender search
TexasOffender searchTexas inmate search
UtahSherriff’s office offenders registryUtah department of corrections
VermontSex offender registryOffender Locator
VirginiaSex offenders registryOffender Locator
WashingtonWashington state court recordsWashington state department of corrections
West VirginiaState police sex offender registryOffender search
WisconsinCourt system and recordsDOC offender information
WyomingSex offender registryWyoming inmate search

Things To Look For During Background Checks

In addition to the above-mentioned searches, an employment background check will also look for the following information.

Address History

The addresses that are associated with an individual’s name and social security number can be identified during an employment background check, typically the last seven years of residence at the address.

The addresses found can be used to cross-check other records and that is why it is important for them to be accurate.

Job and Education History

Background checks also confirm the education and job history that is outlined on the resume. This can be done by double-checking the information that has been given in terms of schools and companies against the institution’s databases. This certifies the truth of the resume information.

Specialized Records

Background checks can also have specialized records that are not available to the general public such as those pertaining to watch lists for suspected terrorists that are maintained by the federal government.

Can I Do a Level 2 Background Check on Myself?

Background checks can be classified into level one and level two checks. Knowing how to get a background check on yourself for employment involves knowing the different levels to conduct your search.

A level one background check is when the checks are done are name-based or involve an employment history check. Level 2 background check refer to those checks that involve state and national fingerprint-based checks. Level 2 checks also involve considerations of disqualifying offenses by law when holding positions of responsibility and trust.

Level 1 Background Check Inclusion:

  • Employment history that spans the entire state
  • Criminal records
  • Register of sex offenders

Level 2 Background Check:

This check is done on people going through the process of adopting or enrolling in foster parent systems. It is also done on people who work in highly vulnerable positions such as caring for elderly people, children, and people with disabilities among other vulnerable groups.

Any volunteer work that involves working with these vulnerable groups will also require a level 2 background check. It includes the following checks:

  • Finger-print based information
  • County criminal records
  • National criminal record history

The applicants will be checked through different databases to retrieve information on arrest information, violent crimes, and behaviors related to crimes against children and other vulnerable groups. This level 2 check also includes records that courts including those under juvenile convictions have sealed.

How To Do a Level 2 Background Check:

Level 2 background checks are done in the form of FBI identity history summary checks. This summary check is a rap sheet that provides information taken from a fingerprint submission as recorded in FBI records. The processing time is dependent on whether the submission is done electronically or manually with electronic submissions taking three to five business days after the fingerprint card has been received. Mail submissions take 2-4 weeks to be processed. The information gotten from the search includes arrest information, federal employment, military service, and naturalization.

How To Submit a Request to the FBI

There are several methods that can be used to make requests to the FBI for a level 2 background check. FBI official website has outlined the instructions on how to obtain an identity history summary14 which includes:

Direct electronic submission: In this method of application, the requests are made by7 filling out online forms with the required information. These forms can be obtained on the FBI website. After filling out the forms, applicants can then submit their fingerprints through post offices or mail them directly to the FBI.

There are several post offices that partner with the FBI to carry out the fingerprint recognition process. For individual submission, mailing of the fingerprint card (FD-1164) can be done after doing the process alone or with the help of third parties such as police officers/stations that are well versed with the standard print form.15

Direct Mail submission: After filling out the applicant information for the relevant parties, the next step is outlining the correct and complete mailing address to where the results will; be sent back. Other information that may be needed on the envelope includes the e-mail address and phone number if they are available.

The results registered under mail are sent back to the applicants via the U.S postal services as first-class packages. Fingerprints are sent as part of the package and should be done following the relevant fingerprint guidelines and regulations.16Payments for direct mail submissions come up to $18.00 and payments can be done through credit card.

Submit a request via an FBI-approved channeler: to make it easy to connect applicants with the FBI,  FBI-approved channelers17 are private businesses that have been contracted by the FBI to submit requests on behalf of citizens.

FBI Website screenshot of list of approved channelers for requesting background check.

(Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation17)

The application process through a channeler is similar to that of applying directly to the FBI. The FBI will then give back the results to the applicant through the channeler.

Employers use background search information to vet potential employees based on the industry type and laws required. When learning how to get a background check on yourself for employment, examine the areas that are likely to be checked first, and then take steps to erase or correct any information that may cause a problem.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Get a Background Check on Yourself for Employment

Can You Get a Background Check on Yourself?

Yes. Anyone can conduct a background check on themselves by looking through the resources and platforms mentioned above such as background checking software.

How Do You Get a Background Check on Yourself?

To get a background check that is self-initiated, all that needs to be done is input the relevant details into a background check site and wait for the results to be retrieved.

How Far Back Do Background Check for Employment Go?

The period varies from one state to another, but the longest period that is allowed is seven years. FCRA can allow checks to go further when positions pay more than 75,000$.

Is There an Option For How To Run a Background Check on Yourself for Free?

Yes, there is. Free background checks can be done by doing free trials on background check sites or using free sites to conduct background checks.

What’s the Best Self Background Check?

The best background check brings up the results that give a comprehensive history of an individual. This will include credit report checks, criminal record checks, and motor vehicle checks in a single background check.


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