If your memory serves you well, the fraternity party where you drank far too much alcohol was more than 10 years ago. Blame it on the drinking, but you probably don’t remember much about that night, other than you passed out and your fraternity brothers decided to take advantage of the situation by setting you up in a costume and posting photos of you online. Granted, they shouldn’t have done it, and it was all in good spirit. Nonetheless, some of those photos went viral, and now, 10 years later, you just found out that because of those social media posts and photos, you were not going to land the dream job that you had just applied for.
Wait, how is this possible? Those photos were taken 10 years ago, and how could they possibly surface now? You’re talking about your dream job of a lifetime, and now, at the worst possible moment, those photos are coming back to haunt you? Welcome to the “club” — the 54% of job candidates who are not hired due to content found on social media.
Call it sad, unfair, and just about any other word you choose, but the truth is that the employment background check the company conducted based on your job application uncovered those images, and as happens with 54% of job candidates, it ends up being a job killer. So, what can you do now? Unfortunately, nothing can save this job. But you can prepare in advance for your employment background check by knowing what to expect and how to avoid a bad outcome.
A Closer Look at Employment Background Checks
No matter how honest you are, the company you’re applying to for a job doesn’t know you well enough to believe anything that you have to say. And as most people know, job applicants tend to “pad” a resume with information that, while based on truth and fact, may be embellished in order to secure the job. That’s where employment background checks come in.
An employment background check is designed to verify the information you provide, as well as find additional information about your work history, education, driving history, medical information, any criminal records, and of course, social media use. Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, it may also look into your credit history. Why? Well, if you have a history of fraud or bankruptcies, the employer certainly doesn’t want you applying in the accounting department or in a position of writing checks. Or, if the job requires a Master’s degree, did you really earn one? The background check will validate the applicant’s educational credentials that were presented when applying for the position.
Employers have a responsibility to their company and employees to ensure that the people they hire are reputable and honest. A background check will help uncover things that are left out of an applicant’s resume, like their criminal history. If a background check comes back with information on sex offenses, criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, or incarceration as an adult, that would most likely be enough of a red flag to terminate the employment process.
Preparation: Getting Ready for Your Background Check
Now that you know what employers are looking for in a background check, you can begin the preparation process so you can be sure the information that the employer sees is current and accurate. This is a critical step because with all the identity theft occurring, you want to be sure that everything discovered is really about you.
You can start preparing by going to all the people-search sites. Those include Nuwber, Intelius, US Search, WhitePages, and many more. These sites have an extensive amount of personal data under your name, and you want to delete this information and opt out of each resource. Even though these engines cannot be used by employers for pre-employment background checks, some of them still do use these sources, unfortunately.
The process of removing yourself from people search websites is easy. Nuwber, for instance, has the “Remove my info” page. Just a few clicks, and you will receive the instructions on how to remove your data.
Before a credit check is conducted, conduct your own. Review your credit bureau reports to ensure that there aren’t any accounts or transactions that you’re not aware of. You’re entitled to a free online credit check, and if something suspicious comes up, you can request a credit freeze on your account. There’s no charge, and it’ll prevent anyone from opening up an account in your name. If there is any misinformation in your report, immediately report it to the major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Scour your social media profiles and posts and delete anything that an employer might find offensive. Even if it’s borderline or something that you think many people find amusing, remove it. Always stay on the side of caution in order to protect your reputation. Any photos of excessive drinking or activities that would be frowned upon by conservative employers should be deleted. Consider this an exercise in good judgment.
Boost Your Online Presence
Employers like to hire professional people who are well-versed in their industry. Make sure you appear on LinkedIn not with only a profile but with articles or white papers you post relating to your field of work. Make sure that you have a current and professional-looking photo on your profile. Ask your friends and former colleagues to share your posts and follow you so it appears that you are the “go-to individual” for current industry events.
If you don’t have your own website, create one. Check to see what type of content your competition is posting and write and post your version of current topics. Another strategy is to find professional, industry-specific websites and post your comments to show that you’re on top of current industry issues and events.
By following the suggestions in this article, you’ll be well-prepared for any employment background check and will avoid any issues before they become a problem. Happy job hunting!
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