I have had a couple of recent experiences where candidates have run into issues (sometimes through no fault of their own) of not being able to satisfy various requirements of a background check.  In one instance, the company was unable to verify a valid degree.  In another, a key reference had recently passed away.  In yet another instance, there was a challenge verifying dates of employment from an acquired company.

Systems conversions, simple data entry mistakes, and companies disappearing altogether can create challenges during background check.  Of course these situations can create a lot of added stress during an already stressful process.  When your dream job is in the balance, and you have tight deadlines looming from your current employer, this is probably not the ideal time to have to go hunting through the storage unit for some piece of paper.   This got me thinking; perhaps we should all be keeping digital copies of certain key documents.   Here is an inventory of things you might want to keep in one digital folder:

  • Diploma and/or transcripts
  • 1st and last paystubs for each company – This can prove compensation growth, but also tenure with a company that no longer exists. W2s can also be helpful to substantiate bonus income, and/or other types of compensation.
  • Annual (or other performance) Reviews – this one is really important. It can help substantiate strong performance: a) in lieu of a reference from your current employer; b) in situations where companies have a “no reference” policy; or c) in a situation where a key personal reference is deceased or MIA.
  • Proof of certifications – it is also helpful to keep digital copies of your CPEs in the event you get audited for CPE hours.
  • Any special awards or letters of recommendation or praise
  • Redacted copies of audit/project reports – as long as they don’t violate confidentiality agreements. This can be important to demonstrate the quality of your writing.
  • If consulting for a long period of time, it may be important to keep key documents to help substantiate that you are not just trying to cover up a period of extended unemployment, including:
    • Contracts, and/or invoices that can corroborate your consulting experience
    • 1099s that verify consulting income
  • Work status documentation
  • Credit check – this is not so much to provide documentation – the company will perform their own – but rather to identify any potential issues/mistakes, so you may address them proactively.
  • Articles, Publications, or proof of speaking engagements – this can be important in the event you are pursuing a role where they are looking for a proven industry thought leader