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Can my job search please be over already?
June 6, 2011 6:19 AM   Subscribe

I will graduate from college in a week. Two weeks ago, I got an email from an institution that I had done a job interview with saying, "We would like to move forward in the process" and asking to do a background check on me. I filled out the paperwork and faxed it back immediately. They still haven't gotten back to me. (I know my background is clean, as I've passed two other background checks recently.) How good should I feel about my prospects here? Was I wrong in assuming that the background check was a prelude to an employment offer?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total)
 
Call them and ask.
posted by empath at 6:24 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never assume anything until you have an offer letter in hand, but yeah, most places won't go through the effort of a background check unless they've decided/ are very close to deciding to make you an offer.

In other words, looks good, but keep grinding away at other opportunities in your pipeline.
posted by JPD at 6:24 AM on June 6, 2011


Anecdotally, but, when I took my current job the background check and the letter of offer happened at roughly the same time; the offer was made, contingent on passing a background check. Two weeks is longer than you'd like to wait, of course, and it's hard to say since we don't and can't know the inner workings of either the general industry you're looking at or the specific office you applied to, but it may just be that they're slammed with other stuff and haven't gotten around to processing your paperwork (or perhaps they've processed it and just haven't gotten back to you yet for some reason.)

In short, you can't really know unless you ask, and I think two weeks is an adequately long time to justify a polite inquiry, but whatever you feel comfortable with.
posted by Kosh at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2011


Two weeks isn't nearly long enough for a lot of employers to process a background check. The federal government can take months (like, six to nine in bad cases), but even private employers can take three or four.

But two weeks is long enough for your giving them a call to ask if they need any more information to be reasonable. That way you look diligent and concerned without appearing desperate or impatient.

Still, because background checks cost money, most employers don't do them until absolutely necessary. I second JPD here: lookin' good, but keep at any other irons you've got in the fire.
posted by valkyryn at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2011


Did they already call your references?

It's possible that they checked your background already, and if all the other stuff is good, they might be finalizing your offer, getting everyone at the company up to speed, etc, before presenting the offer
posted by Cloud King at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2011


valkyryn: "The federal government can take months (like, six to nine in bad cases)"

That's a security clearance. Very big difference, and you'd know if you were in the process of being cleared. Background checks shouldn't take much more than 5 business days.

Give them a polite phone call. It is very much the job of an HR person to answer these sorts of questions.
posted by schmod at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2011


valkyryn: "The federal government can take months (like, six to nine in bad cases)"

That's a security clearance. Very big difference, and you'd know if you were in the process of being cleared. Background checks shouldn't take much more than 5 business days.
There are also federal background investigations that are not clearances. These require interviews or questionnaires with references and can take months.
posted by Jahaza at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2011


you'll find, throughout your life, that prospective employers take 5 day + the amount of time for you to totally lose faith in them to get back to you about anything, to the point that you think they are so full of sh1t that you would never want to work for them. And then they call you like everything is normal.

That doesn't mean that you have or don't have the job, just that this is totally par for the course.
posted by sully75 at 10:38 AM on June 6, 2011


Dunno if this is just taking your social and checking credit and criminal or something more involved, but either way 2 weeks is not that long, even for that piece. And Nthing that it takes forever to get an employer to make a decision. I know, I'm an employer. Sorry! :-) Cost of making a bad hiring decision is so high... I'd keep on talking to prospects until you're actually presented an offer. And no, it doesn't hurt to ask.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:17 AM on June 6, 2011


If you're in the U.S., remember that Labor Day weekend was last week, too, so a lost work day (and probably some folks taking advantage of the day off to boost a holiday). I wouldn't worry too much about 2 weeks, but obviously, keep interviewing at other places until this is in the bag.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:41 PM on June 6, 2011


Jahaza is right. Security clearances do take a notoriously long amount of time, but the feds can also drag their heels for simple background checks.
posted by valkyryn at 11:45 AM on June 9, 2011


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