Today, I wanted to write about something that is extremely important. As technology gets more advanced & inexpensive, it is becoming common practice to do a full background check on a potential employee before this employee is offered the position. Over the past 16 years, I’ve seen several candidates fail background checks who didn’t need to fail them. I wanted to write up a few guidelines as to how to handle certain situations with a background check & how to not make common mistakes that can potentially cost you the dream job that you are about to be offered.
First & foremost, BE HONEST!!! Most companies do a criminal background check these days & they ask you to fill out an application. If there is a question have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, & if you have. Just be honest, & explain what happened to the employer. 95% of the time, it wont be a problem as long as you are honest & up front. Most employers appreciate that & are willing to give the potential employee another chance. Very important as well. If you did have a record & it was supposed to be expunged or wiped off your record, it probably will still come up in a background check. Believe me when I tell you your employer will not withdraw the offer because you have a misdemeanor or even certain felonies from 12 years ago. Always be honest.
Second, when it comes to dates & titles on your resume. Make sure they are all 100% correct. Even if it’s a common typo or a mistake, the employer can see it as lying on your resume or application & it will lead to the offer being taken away. It is a better idea to be accurate & honest than to exaggerate & not be honest. The truth always has a way of coming out in the end.
As far as education goes. This is the #1 way a candidate can lost their offer if the information is not 100% correct. If you never finished college & have the college on your resume you MUST add the phrase currently pursuing degree & how many credits you earned. If you never went to college, that’s not a problem. Just don’t put anything in the application that isn’t 100% correct. For those of you who did finish your BS, BA, MS, MA, MBA, etc….Make sure that you are able to produce the actual diploma or a transcript to prove that you indeed did graduate. Several background check companies & employers leave that burden on the applicant so go to your attic & dust off the diploma. It will also move things along much faster.
As far as salary goes. Keep a few very important things in mind. If the interviewer is asking how much you were making at your current of previous jobs, tell them the exact number. I have seen a candidate make that mistake several times, & sometimes with terrible consequences. Most of the time when an applicant does this, it is not malicious or intentional, but the client can take it that way & it’s another way to lose an offer. For example, if you were making 75K as a base plus 10K as a bonus, the way to explain this to the manager or HR Representative is exactly that. “I was making a base salary of 75K & was also given a bonus of 10K” If you just say 85K with no explanation, it will be looked upon as trying to misrepresent your compensation. Another very common mistake that applicants make is calculate their base salary even though they were paid hourly. This is a huge way to red flag yourself. IF they ask you your compensation & you are making $40 per hour, please don’t say you are making 80K. You need to be specific with the hiring manager. Tell them “At my last employer, I was making $40 per hour, but I worked _____ hours per week, so usually I cleared _____ per month/year” The interviewer will appreciate your honesty & attention to detail.
Finally, there is social media. A few pieces of advice. First “Google” yourself & see what comes up. I assure you the employer is doing that. Second, take a look at your profile on Linked In, Monster, Dice, etc….Make sure it looks good, has good recommendations, a good photo (yes it helps) and also join groups that are relevant to your profession. Then there is FACEBOOK….Do yourself a HUGE favor & at least during your job search, make your profile private or don’t use it unless you have to. You don’t need people taking a look at your page with personal information that they don’t really know. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, etc… During your job search these sites can really hurt you much more than they can help you. I have found Linked In as the best tool for candidates & recruiters to connect.
That’s about it. At the end of the day, most people don’t mean to deceive employers about their past or cheat to find a better salary, but communication is everything & the more up front you are the more respect you will earn from the hiring manager, HR, & recruiters.
I hope these tips help. Feel free to write me back, call me or make any comments you’d like to discuss or if you’d like me to cover a certain topic that interests you.