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Software Engineer Background Check: A Complete Guide [2023]

software engineer background check

As an HR professional in the technology industry, you likely understand the importance of running background checks on potential new hires.

Did you know that Tesla recently filed a lawsuit against a second software engineer for theft of the company’s trade secrets?

Background checks can help minimize the risk of employee theft of trade secrets and protect your customers’ sensitive data.

Based on our broad experience conducting software engineer background checks, we wrote this guide as a resource for employers.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Software Engineer Background Check?

A software engineer background check is a type of employment background check that allows you to verify the claims made by your applicants on their resumes and applications and to ensure they are fully qualified for your positions.

Software engineers are responsible for developing, designing, and testing software. They frequently handle sensitive data and have access to their companies’ trade secrets and intellectual property.

They might also have access to databases containing customers’ sensitive financial and identifying information.

Conducting comprehensive employment background checks on software engineers can help you to protect your company and its intellectual property while also ensuring that your customers’ information remains confidential.

Software Engineer Background Check Laws

As an employer, you must follow federal and state laws when you conduct software engineer background checks.

If you violate these laws, you could face penalties and substantial legal liability.

Federal Laws

There aren’t any federal laws that specifically address software engineer background checks.

However, there are two major laws that apply to all employers, including technology companies that conduct employment background checks on software engineers and use the information to make hiring decisions.

These laws are outlined below.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and protects the privacy of consumers’ information that is collected by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and reported to employers.

The FCRA requires you to disclose your intention to conduct employment background checks in writing to your applicants. You must also obtain their signed consent before a background check can be conducted.

If there are red flags on an employment background check, you must complete the steps of the adverse action process before making a decision not to hire the applicant based on the background check report.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against members of protected groups based on their protected characteristics during and after the hiring process.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces this law.

Title VII applies to background checks when an applicant has a criminal record that appears on the report.

If a prospective software engineer has a criminal conviction, you must assess it as it directly relates to the job before you make a decision not to hire him or her.

What Shows up on a Software Engineer Background Check?

What you will see on a software engineer background check will depend on which types of reports you request.

Most technology companies ask for the following information:

  • Criminal convictions and pending criminal matters
  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • Professional license or certification checks
  • Listing on the Domestic Terrorist Watch List

Here’s what you might see on some of these background check reports.

Criminal Background Checks

A criminal background check can help you see whether a software engineer has a disqualifying conviction.

The following types of information will be reported if an applicant has a criminal conviction:

  • Type of offense
  • Date of offense
  • Level of offense (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Disposition
  • Date of disposition
  • Sentence

Employment Verification

Verifying the past employment of a software engineer is especially important.

An employment verification report will provide the following information about each of the applicant’s past positions:

  • Each former employer’s name and address
  • Dates of employment
  • Jobs and positions held

Education Verification

Verifying your candidates’ education helps you to ensure that the information they reported on their resumes or application is correct.

You’ll see the following information on an education verification report:

  • Location and name of every school attended
  • Attendance dates
  • Diplomas and degrees awarded

Certification Verification

Software engineers do not have licensure requirements but might need multiple professional certifications.

Performing a credentials check can help you to confirm they have the certifications they reported on their resumes or applications.

On this type of report, you will see the following information:

  • Type of certification
  • Date awarded

How to Conduct a Background Check on a Software Engineer

Technology companies can submit requests to state agencies to conduct background checks on software engineers.

However, sending a request to a state agency for criminal history information won’t provide you with other important data about a software engineer’s convictions in other states or about his or her credentials, education, or former employment.

Some technology companies take a do-it-yourself approach to conduct software engineer background checks.

However, this is not a good approach for multiple reasons.

You might not get all of the information you need to make an informed hiring decision, and your search might also violate some of the requirements for conducting employment background checks.

The best approach is to work with a professional background check provider like iprospectcheck. We can help you stay compliant with all applicable regulations and laws.

What Causes a Red Flag on a Software Engineer Background Check?

If employers discover any of the following red flags on a software engineer background check report, they might decide not to hire the applicants:

1. Disqualifying Criminal Convictions

Even if a software engineer has a criminal record, it won’t necessarily mean that he or she will be automatically turned down for a job.

However, certain types of convictions might be red flags for technology companies and result in a denial of employment.

2. Dishonesty About Employment History

Some software engineers might falsify their employment histories to try to conceal their work for specific employers or to inflate their claimed level of experience.

If you ask for employment verification, you’ll easily be able to identify false claims made by applicants about their previous employment.

Applicants who apply for software engineer positions will likely be denied employment if they have lied about their past employment.

3. Lies About Education or Credentials

Another major red flag on a software engineer background check is lying about credentials or educational attainment.

If you request education verification and a credentials check, you’ll see whether an applicant has the degree and professional certifications reported on their resume.

Dishonesty about education and credentials will likely result in the withdrawal of a conditional offer.

4. Failing a Drug Test

Many technology companies ask for pre-employment drug tests as a part of their software engineer background checks.

If an applicant’s drug test is positive, the employer will likely withdraw a conditional offer of employment as a software engineer.

How Long Does a Software Background Check Take?

How long it might take for you to complete a software engineer background check will depend on how you go about conducting it.

If you try to conduct the background check on your own by sending requests to numerous state and federal agencies and conducting online searches, the process could take weeks.

Additionally, you might not receive all of the information you need to make an informed hiring decision with a do-it-yourself approach.

A better approach is to work with a reputable background check company like iprospectcheck.

We have extensive access to reliable databases and use advanced research methods to quickly complete FCRA-compliant background checks in as little as a few hours.

Partner with iprospectcheck for Reliable Employment Background Checks

Failing to complete comprehensive, FCRA-compliant software engineer background checks could result in substantial losses, stiff fines, and legal liability.

At iprospectcheck, we have the necessary resources and knowledge to complete fast, affordable software engineer background checks so that you can make good hiring decisions.

We stay up to date with changes in employment background check laws in all 50 states and ensure that we always comply with said laws.

For more information about our background check services or to get a free quote, call iprospectcheck today: 888-808-9997

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.