Alia Torvik writes for CareerBuilder.com --a leading job search website-- and Torvik warns potential hires that background checks have become the "norm."
Certainly, background checks are appropriate for some new hires. After all, employers should know which employees were formerly a do-nothing-politician, or a pedophile, or a CEO-embezzler in a past job...correct? But Torvik says that those types of crimes are not only what employers look for before even contacting recruits for an interview...meaning you.
The important investigation is tied to tracing your Social Security number. Rather than give sound advice on stopping such an invasion of personal background detail -- Torvik suggests to new hire candidates that they bend with the prying tide. And the reason is that Torvik's employer charges for such a service.
"Now more than ever, background checks have become one of the most important features in the hiring process in firms of all sizes," Torvik writes. The suggested solution is to check your own records before the potential employer digs up your past.
Untypical of bowing submissively to corporate culture, had Torvik been supporting job seekers, the suggestion would be: "Keep all identifying information secret."
Such open defiance in the United States is not allowed however, nor will it be part of the freedoms and dreams so many aspire to achieve during their career.
Nonetheless, as Torvik's strong words of advice were picked up by CNN -- dig a little deeper into what is said.
Do your own background check and actually deliver a copy of it with your resume to a potential employer to save them time and money. This, Torvik says, puts you ahead of the competition in finding a job.
Background checks provide details of simple items such as: Speeding tickets, disorderly conduct citations, credit problems (and history,) any type of court appearance (your $5 fine for screaming at environmentalists in Alaska,) underage drinking 20 years ago, university level academic standing or dormitory discipline.
Employers may also use your Social Security number to check against your credit card purchases --Torvik doesn't tell you that, Think & Ask tells you that-- so watch out if you've used that credit card to purchase pornography or cigarettes, because those items are hot on the list of no-no's for hiring managers in 2005. So too is a high credit card debt. You can now conduct your own free credit check under new federal guidelines.
But if you are curious about what employers may check on your background...wouldn't you know that, conveniently, Carrerbuilder has a security checking service. Normally the price is $40, but the price was slashed to only $29.95 when Torvik provided advice across the news media.
At least for CNN's coverage of the story the news company does acknowledge a partnership with Careerbuilder.com at the top of their story. Although Torvik's story was not a paid advertisement, and provides no statistical evidence to support that background checking should be feared.
What Think & Ask will tell you --for free-- is, that throughout 2005 credit reports are being rolled out for no cost. Check your region for dates and details at the Federal Trade Commission's website, www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm. To keep your "indiscretions" out of the hands of potential employers however, the free solution is not to provide your Social Security number until you accept a job offer and begin work.
"Think independently," Torvik writes. Now that quote...is worthy advice.
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