How Do Freelancers and Background Checks Go Together?

Background checks are a standard component of the job search process. In addition to filling out an application, submitting a resume, and having an interview, most applicants must also undergo pre-employment background screening. However, while this process is typical for traditional jobs, there’s a parallel economy operating simultaneously, as an on-demand economy, shifting how many people seek and obtain work. On-demand, freelance, and contract jobs are on the rise, which begs the question: how will the increased call for background checks affect freelancers? To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at what freelancers and other contract workers might expect during the hiring process.

Will a background check be required?

Every job is different, so there’s no single answer to this question, but in very general terms, most freelancers aren’t asked for a background check for the following reasons:

  • Background checks cost money. Folks hiring freelancers usually don’t want to spend money screening someone. They are likely hiring for a one-off gig.
  • Background checks take time. The on-demand economy works fast. A job is posted, someone grabs it, and the work sometimes begins in a matter of mere days. There’s no time in this fast-paced environment to slow down and wait for the results of a background check.

But Safety is Still Important. What Might Freelancers Expect in Lieu of a Traditional Background Check?

Social Media Matters

Freelancers need to pay close attention to their social media accounts. Potential clients who opt against on-demand economy background checks will rely heavily on information they can glean from online profiles about character and personality.

Skills and Experience

Background checks typically involve verifying education, experience, and credentials. Employers hiring contractors can’t—or don’t—spend time and money confirming resume details, but they do focus on the quality of work. Freelancers looking for employment opportunities need to be prepared to provide portfolios and other samples or evidence of past projects that can easily be shared with potential clients. Sample work might also be requested for a price.

An Evolving Environment

The fact that pre-screening background checks are not currently a part of the demand economy does not mean that this will always be the case. As more and more of the US workforce pivots to on-demand type work, it becomes more likely that some form of background screening will become part of the process. Watch for more changes to come as the economy continues to evolve.