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I have accepted a written offer for a new job based in a different location.

One of the terms of my contract is that the new employer will reimburse me for relocation expenses (such as house hunting, shipping agent for my things, etc.).

The job offer is contingent on a background check. I recently contacted HR to make sure that everything is complete and nothing has come up. I was told that they will need to take my fingerprints to finish the process.

While I don't anticipate that anything should come up after checking my fingerprints, there are two primary risks I am worried about 'just in case':

  1. The shipping agent is coming tomorrow and I will be going for a house hunting trip (both covered by my contract). If the offer is revoked on the basis of the background check, I don't want to be left out-of-pocket for those expenses
  2. I want to give my notice to my current company, but am concerned that this will limit my options if the offer is revoked.

Again, I don't expect anything in the background check will cause the job offer to be revoked, but other than putting off any actions related to switching jobs until getting the final notice, is there any way to limit the risk of an offer contingent on a background check?

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    Hi mkzk, welcome to The Workplace. At the moment your question is pretty unclear. You give a lot of detail, which doesn't seem directly necessary to your eventual question and the question isn't exactly linked to the title of your question. Would you mind editing it to clean it up a bit? That would certainly help bring more attention to your question and elicit helpful answers. – CMW Mar 30 '14 at 12:50
  • Are you at risk of not being able to give the current employer enough notice? – user8365 Mar 30 '14 at 13:22
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    Hey mkzk, and welcome to The Workplace. I think you have the core of a great question here, but unfortunately it's attracting close votes for being unclear. I'm going to make an edit to try to keep it open, but if you think you can improve it, or if I missed the point and the current question won't be helpful, please feel free to edit it yourself. Thanks in advance! – jmac Mar 31 '14 at 1:53
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Bring it up with the hiring company - tell them that you can't give notice until the offer is final and you've passed the background check. If they're worth working for, they'll understand, and if they're chomping at the bit to get you hired on, they'll take measures to expedite the background check.

At least in every country I've ever been in, finding an agency that will take fingerprints and perform a background check is not a difficult task, and I'd be surprised if your potential new employer is unable to direct you somewhere local where this can be done (at their expense, of course). I'd make sure that got done and that I'd passed the background check before giving notice, or incurring expenses related to a relocation for a job that isn't yet final.

  • The problem is that the new employer can still change there mind and just pay the notice. Leaving the person will all the costs of moving "back home". – Ian Apr 1 '14 at 9:11
  • @Ian Not with a signed contract, after the OP passes his background check... which is why I advised him to get the background check passed before giving notice, or spending money on relocation. – HopelessN00b Apr 1 '14 at 12:57
  • Most contracts have a probationary time, when each side has the option of giving 1 week notice, after that it is common for only 1 months notice. (In the UK you get few legal rights until you have been in a job for over 1 year.) – Ian Apr 1 '14 at 13:28
  • @Ian Then being on the hook to "move back home" is an unavoidable risk or relocating for any job, and not particularly constructive or useful for this specific question. The best he can do, given that he's decided to relocate for a new job, is to ensure his job offer is final before giving notice or spending money to relocate. – HopelessN00b Apr 1 '14 at 14:00
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Updating for clarity.

Is there anything they would find based on the fingerprint results that would make them question their decision? For 90% of the people out there I think the background check / fingerprint scan is merely a formality.

IF there is anything that you would think is questionable that would come up on the background / fingerprint scan you have two options.

  1. You should disclose it immediately to the HR professional you're working with so they can see it in context rather than being surprised by it.
  2. You should reach out to the HR professional before the background check is completed and ask them to clarify their process. Unless you're applying for a FED job, in which they are doing a formal SF86 background investigation for clearance, you may be entitled to the response that the clearinghouse provides the organization you're applying with.

In the interest of transparency the only risk mitigation you have when it comes to a background check would be knowing what they are looking for. Which can work 1 of 2 ways for the company doing the background check.

  1. You know what they're looking for and you attempt to clean it up (if you're shady). I'm not talking about credit problems, I'm talking criminal citations, and legal documentation of crimes.
  2. You know what they're looking for and you attempt to provide context for anything that might hit.

Many companies will ask for clarification of things seen on a background check. My FED interview was extensive, and any civilian background check was never close. Most of the time they were just provided records found from Intelius.

Worrying about a false positive with a background check is not something I would be concerned with, unless they aren't using a defining element to ID you, such as your SSN or taxId. I've had friends in the GOV space have a real nightmare with GOV background process, because they were a John Smith JR, and John Smith SR was a real piece of work. When the GOV search for John Smith they pulled all of SR records and attributed it to JR (names obviously changed here) ...but unless you're in that type of scenario, see the above for risk mitigation factors.

Once you feel comfortable with their process and have a comfortable success factor certainty in your mind, then resign your job, otherwise I wouldn't until you've come back cleared.

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    Whether or not the OP actually has something questionable in his background doesn't matter. If a check turns up a false positive, that can be enough to put the kibosh on the entire deal. – Blrfl Mar 30 '14 at 19:52
  • Hey John, I made a big edit to the question to try to make it a wee bit less of a 'no brainer'. Any chance you could take another look and make an edit to your answer if merited? Thanks in advance! – jmac Mar 31 '14 at 2:07
  • jmac, I've updated the answer, hopefully it provides more context. Again, mileage may vary from individual to individual, but a safe practice of waiting until the bgcheck comes back is not bad. – John Wildes Mar 31 '14 at 18:03

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