– Something for young people; describing the types of checks an employer will perform.

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It used to be, if you wanted a job you would simply complete an application form, attach your resume, come in for an interview, and you would either be selected or dropped from consideration. Case closed. However, due to our litigious society and hyperactive Human Resource (HR) Departments, it is no longer that simple. In fact, it can be a downright painful process. Aside from the application and interview, there are typically seven types of background checks to verify your credentials:

EMPLOYMENT CHECK – to verify the past jobs you have held. HR will ask for references, but this is something typically not offered anymore as it might lead to a lawsuit. For example, if the job candidate is said to be a good worker by his previous employer, but turns out to be a dud, the former employer could be sued for false representation. Conversely, if they say the candidate is bad, they could be sued for character assassination. Consequentially, companies rarely offer references anymore, just verification of employment, including the dates they worked and the job titles they held.

ACADEMIC CHECK – falsifying academic records for the purpose of employment is a crime, and companies take this very seriously. I knew a classmate who falsified his college records and was caught. This cost his dearly, not only in terms of crime and punishment, but in prestige among the members of our class. It it embarrassing, and it is just plain wrong.

CRAFT CHECK – sometimes it is necessary to demonstrate the knowledge of your craft. For example, if you are a programmer, you may be asked to take a technical test to verify your knowledge and demonstrate your skills. If you are a technical writer, you might be asked to solve a test case. Even if you have certification or a degree in a particular subject, be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge.

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK – Now it gets interesting. Most medium to large companies today perform a criminal background check. When interviewing, do not lie about your checkered past as it will surely come to light. Discuss your problems of the past frankly and openly. The doors will not always close in your face for a past indiscretion, but the company definitely wants to know about it.

DRUG CHECK – Many companies today insist on a drug free work environment, not to mention alcohol as well. Consequently, you will likely be asked to pass a drug test, not just before being hired, but as an on-going program within the company. Look, it’s simple; do not come to work stoned or drunk.

CREDIT CHECK – Companies often run a credit check on new employees, just to see how well they manage finances. A low credit rating could detect a potential problem and risk to the company, hence another reason to manage your finances.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHECK – This is the one check most young people overlook. What you post on social media (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) will be reviewed by your employer. If there are some risqué photos or comments on your site, remove them now. If you have photos or videos showing tattoos that might offend people, eliminate them. This category alone is the most overlooked by young people and probably the greatest threat to a candidate being hired. Even after you have been hired, if you post pictures of a drunken party you were at over the weekend, you can expect a phone call on Monday. If you cannot project a dignified image on social media, do not do it. Also, do not try to use an alias as someone will eventually find out.

Regardless if today’s application process seems like overkill, this is the world we now live in. It’s true, HR has become an obnoxious bureaucracy, but these checks are designed to minimize the chances for a company to be sued. So you can thank the lawyers as well.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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