Bridge Insights

Ask a Recruiter: What Documents Will I Need for My Background Check? (and What to Do If You’ve Lost Them)

Sep 24, 2020

Every employer is different when it comes to their new hire onboarding, training, and pre-employment screening processes. Despite these differences, there are some documents that you should always have handy and keep in a safe spot just in case your future employer asks for them as part of their new hire process:

Identification Verification

It can seem a little silly to say, but employers usually like to verify that you are who you say you are. As such, presenting some form(s) of identification is typically required. Usually, for forms of ID, you will  be asked to provide one picture and one paper form. Some of the more common picture IDs include a valid driver’s license or state ID card, passport, etc. Paper forms of ID could include a social security card and/or birth certificate.


If you lose or misplace your Photo ID, driver’s licenses and state IDs can be replaced or obtained at the DMV. Be aware, in order to obtain a new ID card, additional documents like proof of residence will be needed, so be sure to research what documents you may need to bring along with you for a replacement.

 Social security cards can be replaced at the Social Security Office and you can request a copy of your birth certificate by reaching out to the vital records office in the state you were born in.

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Education Verification

In addition to identification checks, some employers also complete education verifications as well. As part of this process, you may be asked to provide a copy of a high school diploma or college degree, completion of a GED, or official school transcripts. Unfortunately, most education verifications will not accept any earned certificates of a program and/or unofficial transcripts, so it is important to understand the differences between these different types of documents.

Providing the correct education verification documents is where we, as recruiters, see the biggest hang ups in the new hire process –either because something needs to be ordered, or there is confusion over what documents are needed/accepted, so being prepared ahead of time is key.



If you need to order or replace any proof of education documents, it’s important to remember every school is a little bit different; some schools keep copies on file and may simply print out a copy for you to retrieve. Others store these files off-campus and may require you to pay a fee. Depending on your school, it can take a while to get you what you need, and this can affect your start date.

Here is where being proactive really helps you stand out professionally. If you know you are applying to a job that will conduct an education verification, inquire about the company’s specific processes and the documents needed. Take some time to locate your educational documents; if you can’t find something or you do not have it, get in touch with your alma mater sooner rather than later. It never hurts to have a spare copy of your official transcripts on hand, so that you can quickly present this to your prospective employer and cut out any wait times due to processing/ordering.

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Employment Verification

Employment verification is often something supplemental to your pre-employment background check. This could include things like a simple professional reference check all the way through reaching out to your former employers to verify dates of employment and positions held from your employee file.

Needless to say, depending on the process, there are different ways to verify previous employment, and consequently, different documents that you may need to present.

Most of the time, for an employment verification you will simply need to provide contact information for your previous employer’s HR department. However, if a more in-depth verification is being conducted, common documents you may need to provide could be a paycheck stub, W2 forms, and/or wage and income transcripts.


A lot of companies use online portals which makes it easy to pull up your pay stubs and W2s. You can also request a Wage and Income Transcript from the IRS website, which will give your pay history summary for the inputted years and the positions you held for those tax periods.


It can sometimes be tricky to know exactly which documents you will need before starting a new job, so to make sure the process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible, it’s always a best practice to have the more common onboarding and verification documents on hand. Being proactive and knowing where these items are before beginning a new hire process is a great way to appear professional and start your new job off on the right foot!