You’ve handled your job search like a pro. You’ve updated your interview wardrobe, researched the company, and followed every interview precaution you’ve ever heard or read about. Yet, it’s your past that comes back to haunt you and get in the way of landing the job you so much want and need. It’s truly devastating to invest so much time and energy in a job search only to have the process put “on hold” or crumble altogether due to the skeletons in your closet. Avoid having such tragic disappointments by clearing any inconsistencies and mistakes in your background, and by designating true advocates as your reference sources. You might even try self-Googling to read what a potential employer will find out about you through online outlets and social networks.
Performance & Character References
Handpick reference sources who can really describe your assets as an employee and/or as an individual. Frequently, perspective employers will ask for three references: two performance references and one character reference. The performance references should be from people who you’ve reported to or who have supervised you in some capacity. They should be able to answer questions about how you work under pressure, thrive in a team environment, and rate your ability to prioritize or diffuse conflict. A performance reference may also speak about your personality and quirks. However, such questions may be left for your character reference to answer. Character references may be given by former co-workers, peers, friends or neighbors who can attest to you being an upright citizen. Request a reference in a gracious manner and be careful not to ask the same person too many times. Remember, it’s not their obligation to give you a reference. Do ask for a written recommendation in case circumstances prevent them from offering a live reference whenever you require it. The last thing you need is to delay a job offer due to a reference being unreachable. A written reference also allows you to preview what they will verbally say about you. If reference letters are not detailed or compelling enough, you have the opportunity to ask comprehensive questions that encourage more detailed answers. Otherwise, you can take your time in finding someone else for a reference, prior to having the pressure of a job offer at stake.
All US employees (citizens and non-citizens) hired after November 6, 1986 must complete an I-9 form. This form records that new employees are authorized to work in the United States. While this is a voluntary form, you may not start a job before completing one as it verifies your identity and your employment authorization. There are a number of different acceptable documents in order to complete this form such as passports, permanent resident cards, and driver’s license (see complete list http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf). It is important that your documents be current and unexpired. Be truthful about your employment eligibility from the beginning and familiarize with the documents you need provide to avoid delay of your start date.
Employment verification confirms details such as dates of employment, titles, salary and reasons for leaving. So if you’ve “fudged” your tenure, inflated your title and salary, or stretched the truth about why it was time to move on, this is the phone call that will unleash such demons. The request for this information must be authorized by you with a signature. Only a designated human resources representative who maintains such personnel records will be authorized to verify these confidential details. If you’ve worked through a temporary staffing firm, the employment verification call should be directed toward the staffing firm that represented and assisted you in getting the job. You can be certain that any inconsistencies found during the employment verification will highly jeopardize your candidacy.
Many job candidates flat out lie about their grade point average or about having completed a degree. Make no bones about it; these skeletons can easily be dug up by a suspicious recruiter who requests a college transcript. It is particularly embarrassing and humiliating for job seekers to be caught fibbing about their education. The times it bothers me most, is when it’s affected the candidacy of someone who didn’t need the degree for that particular job in the first place. As for the grade point average, leave it off the résumé if it’s less than a 3.5. Once you pass the recent college graduate stage of your career, it rarely comes up during an interview.
Background Checks (Credit & Criminal)
Positions that involve access to financial information, direct contact with money or valuable goods such as precious metals and gems may require a third party credit firm to conduct a credit check under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf. Again, you must authorize the release of such information. If you are denied employment or “adverse action” is taken based on full or partial results of this consumer report, you are eligible to a copy of the report along with your rights as prescribed by the Federal Trade Commission under section 609(c)(3). Questions about arrests fall under the “illegal questions” category. Regardless of how many, arrests cannot legally affect the outcome of your job search. You may be asked about convictions, which may also not be used legally to deny you employment if they don’t directly correlate to the job description or indicate risk to property or employees.
Tip: Rid yourself of skeletons that will hinder your chances of landing a job to avoid disappointing outcomes. Depending on the position and industry, you stand a better chance of landing the job if you explain your situation ahead of time.
Disclaimer: The information on this blog post is for informational purposes only. Lizandra Vega makes every effort to present accurate workplace information. Employment laws and regulations vary from state to state so when in doubt, please seek legal counsel.