When recruiting new employees, conducting a background check is the best way to protect your investments and ensure that you’re making the best hiring decision for your company. 

Just as it’s important for employers to know what a background check looks like, it’s also important for the potential employee. Are you going to be turned down for every job you apply for because of it? 

Certainly not. While having drug infractions or criminal history on your background check can affect your chances of getting hired, it’s hardly a disqualification. 

It’s also important to remember that background checks are often only comprehensive enough to determine fitness for employment at that particular job. Moreover, certain things in your past may not be included in background checks as time goes on. The most common instance of this is what’s known as the “7-Year Rule”.


But what is the 7-year rule exactly? And does every background check implement that rule, or do some jobs look further back?

What is the 7-Year Rule in Background Checks?

In short, the 7-year rule involves how long a specific factor or activity will remain on someone’s background check. As the name suggests, those particular activities will be left off of background checks in certain states after seven years have passed. This is a requirement under federal law. 

The seven years may start when the person is released from prison. However, some have been known to start the timer after their disposition date or completion of parole. 

To learn more about what the 7-year rule applies to and what states legally prohibit cases over seven years old from appearing on a background check, read on here!

What Still Shows Up on a Background Check After Seven Years? 

More than just federal law, many employers use the 7-year rule as a rule of thumb when conducting background checks.

When it comes to felonies and convictions, they may still appear on a background check even after seven years. This depends on what the employer is looking for and how far back they choose.

An employer can go as far back as they want to when conducting background checks, but many tend to stop at the seven-year mark, even for convictions and felonies. 

The rules for what employers can look for and what might turn up on a background check change depending on the state or the job specifics. For instance, Colorado allows employers to look back further than seven years if the employee earns more than $75,000 a year

Other states might be more restrictive on lookback periods to protect the rights of the potential employees. 

Why Doesn’t the 7-Year Rule Background Check Apply to Felonies and Convictions? 

If you’ve served your time, satisfied your parole, and so on, why can employers look back beyond seven years for felonies and convictions? It might seem unfair that that information can still affect hiring decisions all that time later.

These checks can go far back due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or the FCRA. For example, recruitment background checks are considered consumer investigative reports under FCRA.

Some standards are put in place, however, to protect the applicant. For example, the applicant will be notified when a criminal background check is conducted. In addition, if something appears on a background check that may exclude them from further consideration during the recruiting process, they will also receive a notification.

Employers and applicants alike need to know what the applicants’ rights are when applying. Employers and consumer reporting agencies should be familiar with the standards that the FCRA expects them to uphold, as compliance with these standards is their responsibility. 

Protecting your investments and business as an employer is incredibly important, especially during recruitment and hiring. Protect yourself by conducting background checks, application drug tests, or periodic employee drug tests to ensure your company is safe.

Soteria Drug Screening offers comprehensive, safe, efficient drug testing, background checking, and other services. To learn more, visit https://soteriascreening.com.

Skip to content