How to Do a Virtual Background Check on Potential Employers

Employers aren’t the only ones who should do background checks. As a potential employee, you too should be doing your due diligence.

As we know, global unemployment numbers in 2020 are at an all-time high as a result of the pandemic. Unfortunately, this has created a prime opportunity for scammers who know that people are desperate for job opportunities. As a job seeker, if you let your desperation cloud your judgement, you could very easily fall victim to a scam.

But also, scams aside, the pivot to remote work means that you may never get to see the office of the company you’re applying to work for. In a pre-pandemic world, we were able to evaluate with our own eyes the local area surrounding the office, the employees, the office setup… all things to not only help us indicate if the company is legitimate but also a good fit for us.

So, how can you still do a background check on a potential employer in a virtual world?

Do a gut check

How do you feel when you first read the job description? What about visiting the website? Do they even have a website? If you get a strange feeling, it’s probably because something is in fact wrong. Pay attention to the language used in the job description and check for spelling and grammar errors. Also, any job that asks for personal identifying information is almost always a scam and you should definitely steer clear.

Read reviews on Google and Glassdoor

Okay, so they’ve passed your gut check. Time to read reviews! Go through Google and Glassdoor to see what past and current employees have said. If you see that the reviews are mostly negative, that may be a huge red flag. That could also be said if there’s only positive reviews so you may need to dive a bit deeper in order to make a decision.

Reach out to past and current employees

Can’t find enough information from reviews? You may want to consider reaching out to a past or current employee to get firsthand information. Here’s a sample message you can send — feel free to copy and paste for your own use!

Hi [insert name here], I’m considering applying to [insert company here] and have been doing some research to learn more about the company. I noticed you work there [or have worked there in the past] and was hoping you’d be willing to share your experience with me? Any insight you could provide would be very much appreciated!

Search for recent news articles

I know they say that all publicity is good publicity but in the case of your employment, you want to be aware of any bad publicity prior to joining. From there, you can make a judgment call as to whether you want to associate yourself with the company or not. Your reputation matters too!

Originally published at on October 3, 2020.

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