More and more employers, having been burnt by employees who falsified information on their resumes, are turning to background checks before making an offer to a potential employee. The checks are far more detailed then simply calling references. Employers can check education history, employment history, credit history, driving records and criminal history as part of a background check. Federal and state laws require background checks for some sensitive positions.
Before running a background check, federal law requires the employee be notified, and, depending on the state, sign a waiver allowing the potential employer to do the background check. Exemptions are allowed if a current employee is suspected of criminal activity. Most employers hire third parties to conduct the background checks.
Depending on how extensive the background check is, results can come back within a couple of days. If an employer is using a third party to do the research, depending on the employer's preferences for receiving the information, it can take a little longer. Extensive criminal background checks and high security clearance checks can take up to a month.