Security Guard Background Checks: Why They’re Done and What They Can Find
So you’ve made some mistakes in life. Maybe had a run-in or two with the law in your youth. But you’re older and wiser now. You’re ready to put the past behind you. You’re ready to start your career as a professional security guard.
So what does a background check have to do with getting a security job? And what can you expect a potential employer to find out about your past once they start to dig?
Why security guard background checks are important
Before a company can hire you, they need to feel confident that you’ll take your two most important duties as a security guard seriously and protect the people and property they put in your care. They also need to know that you won’t come with any strings attached that could cause them trouble down the road.
Background checks do this in three ways:
- They help prove you’re honest – Companies often double-check the information you put on your resume or job application to make sure you didn’t lie about your qualifications.
- They protect companies from lawsuits – When a company hires a convicted criminal, even if they didn’t know, that guard’s background could be used against them if something happens and they get sued.
- They ensure insurance claims stay viable – For example, a company can’t file a claim for stolen property if one of their guards has been convicted of theft in the past.
What a background check can reveal about you
Generally, there are two times you can expect to be submitted to a background check:
- Before the state issues you a guard card, and
- Before a company hires you.
Most states look for previous felony convictions, not misdemeanors or petty crimes. A criminal record may keep you from getting your guard card, although some states allow for extenuating circumstances. You should check with your particular state’s security guard licensing agency for more details.
Most smaller security companies depend on the state’s background check and licensing requirements to make sure their guards are above board. As far as they’re concerned, if you have your guard card you’re good to go.
But larger security companies and those that offer specialized services, such as armed guards or protected deliveries, often do more in-depth checks. The more responsibilities a particular security post requires, the more intrusive the background check.
Employers often look at:
- Previous employment and addresses to verify the information on your job application or resume.
- Criminal background checks to search for convictions that a state-mandated check doesn’t reveal.
- Sex offender databases.
- Driving records, usually when a security job also requires you to drive. Otherwise the company could be liable in the case of an accident.
- Credit checks, generally when the job tasks you to protect expensive property or valuable information since there’s a higher risk for employee theft. Keep in mind that most states require you to consent to a credit check and the employer has to show you the report if they turn you down for the job. Check with your particular state for specifics.
Always remember, as a security guard you are the first line of defense if something should happen. Companies put the safety of their employees, customers, and property in your hands. Considering what’s at stake, a background check is a small price to pay to show them you’re up to the task.