Should You Be Worried About Background Checks?

Should I even care about Background Check

In almost all cases, if you are asked to give permission to have your personal background checked, this is a very good sign that you are the candidate that the business is looking for. A business is certainly not going to put someone they are not interested in through a background check…these checks cost money. So, if asked to sign a release, you are definitely in the final stages of the hiring process.

What Will Employers Find Out About Me?

Once you have signed the release, you will probably be wondering what employers can find out from a background check. Generally they will be able to see your former places of employment, your former addresses, past education, criminal history and possibly credit history, depending on where you live. Some things that they will not be able to see, unless you specifically give them permission, are your past salaries, reason for termination, your past employee reviews, your grades and a criminal history over 10 years old.

What are Employers Looking For?

Many candidates will also wonder what employers are actually looking for when they run background checks. Essentially they are looking to make sure that candidates are being truthful with them about their background and experience. Did you really attend that college? Was your job title really what you said it was? Do you really not have a criminal background? All of these things can be determined through a background check. Though it is true that you may be an upstanding citizen, and you may feel offended that they don’t believe what you say, employers weren’t born yesterday. Way too many people lie on resumes, and as you can see, it affects us all, one way or another.

Red Flags and Concerns

You may have something in your background that is concerning to you or that may be a red flag to an employer. In this situation, it is imperative that you are upfront and honest with your potential employer. This includes a criminal history, the fact that you may have taken classes but not earned a degree and of course always be honest about past job titles. You can be certain that an employer is going to appreciate the honesty that you give them much more than a lie.

Background checks are a practice that is here to stay, so if you are going to be in the work force, you will need to get used to them…as they can be a very valuable tool for employers to find their ideal candidates.

Michael Klazema

About the author:

Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

Get an Education That Leads to a Real, Money-Making Career

businessman with horseshoe magnet collecting money , eps10 vecto

Deciding where to go to college and what to major in is an exciting time. After years of taking classes that were selected by school administrators and not by you, now you get to choose where to go and, for the most part, which classes to take. We all know the advice to “follow your passion” while pursuing a college diploma or trade certification, and yes, it’s a noble idea. But it’s also a pretty good idea to think about the financial benefits of your future job—the world doesn’t need another barista with multiple degrees. Take the time to select a program that will not only make you happy, but will also help you earn a decent salary. The following programs can help you find a lucrative position:

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy techs help pharmacists fill prescriptions, update and manage customer records and deal with insurance companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for this field is growing at a “faster than average” rate, and the average pharmacy tech earned $29,320 per year in 2012. According to the online career school Penn Foster, which offers a pharmacy technician career diploma, most graduates go on to work at companies like Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and CVS pharmacies.

Photo by bartsz via Flickr

Aircraft Mechanics

If you’re mechanically inclined and like the idea of working on airplanes, this job might be for you. The Federal Aviation Administration lists the basic requirements on its website, but prepare to to take a series of exams and have a year and a half of practical experience first. The average salary for this job paid $55,230 a year in 2012, according to the BLS.

Auto Insurance Appraisers

Insurance appraisers determine the extent of damage done to a vehicle and whether the company should pay the claim. Appraisers must complete a certificate program in auto damage appraisal to learn how to correctly assess vehicle damage. Appraisers’ annual salaries averaged $59,850 in 2012, according to the BLS.

Commercial Pilot

This well-paying profession is perfect for people who want to fly a helicopter or plane on a more flexible schedule. This includes traffic helicopter pilots, pilots who transport people to the hospital, those who spray crops or other fields with herbicides, and more. Salaries for commercial pilots vary widely, but according to the BLS, the median salary is in the ballpark of $70,000 a year. This career requires a pilot’s license, which may be acquired by working with a private teacher or a civilian or military flight school.

Photo by elias_daniel via Flickr

Petroleum Engineer

Smithsonian Magazine notes that eight of the 10 college majors that lead to high-paying careers have the word “engineering” in them. Petroleum engineers earned an average annual salary of $130,280 in 2012, the BLS reports, making it the most lucrative bachelor’s degree a college student can earn. Other engineering-related college degrees that can lead to high paying jobs include aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and mining and mineral engineering.

Scammers Prey on New Job Seekers – Learn How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

In 2014, job seeking has far more to do with sending lots of email traffic than pounding pavement. The prevalance of electronic communication allows job seekers to send resume/CV information to numerous employers, without so much as stepping foot out the front door.

This convenience does not come without risk however, and there are some common behavioral pitfalls that modern job seekers should avoid. Below are a few things to look out for to ensure you don’t fall for a job scam.

1) Never send Personally Identifying Information out through Email

Personal information of this kind refers to Social Security numbers, a driver’s license, or banking account numbers. At some point you will need to provide an employer this type of personal info, but the key factor is timing. If the employer emails you an application that has an entry space for your SSN or other personally identifying information, just leave those spaces blank and inform your employer you’re not comfortable divulging that information just yet.

The proper time to supply an SSN or similar information is much further along in the hiring process. Once you’ve had one or more face-to-face interviews and it appears that they view you as a likely candidate to fill the position opening. At that time an employer may have a legitimate reason to request your SSN for background check and/or payment processing purposes. The important thing to remember is this request for information should be done in person, not through an email stream.

2) Always research the company you’re applying to

Most good job candidates will do this anyways in order to prepare themselves for a potential interview, but it’s good practice to mitigate risk of scams too. Are you familiar with this potential employer? Even if you are, run a quick search on the company you’re applying to, as that extra five minutes can tell you a lot. If this is a commonly used scam, there will more than likely be message boards and other hits on your search that will tip you off about other job seekers being scammed by this particular “employer.” Even if it is a legitimate business, doing a search will no doubt reveal consumer reviews, which may give you insight into the company’s business practices.

3) Craigslist can be your best friend or worst enemy

Craigslist is one of the most common places job seekers go to find employment opportunities. The reasons for it’s popularity are easy enough to postulate – it’s widely used and completely free. This means potentially limitless exposure to employment opportunities, but it also means exposure to scammers, hackers, and other internet thieves. Exercise extreme caution when applying for jobs on this page. Not sure about a post? Check out the email address. Does it match the handle that contacts use on the actual company website? Is there a company website to be found? Is there other information, such as contact info, or a physical address? If you have trouble finding these things, that could be a good indication that the posting is actually a scam. For more ideas on how to avoid Craigslist scams, visit their “avoiding scams” webpage, or check out the latest news from a prominent anti-identity theft company.

Sneaky Tips for Building an Affordable Business Wardrobe

Smiling Business woman hold white shopping bag.

You might have the mandatory three years of experience in your intended field beyond your degree, but it’s a good bet everyone behind you in line for the same job has it too.

The clothing you wear can make or break your job interview. Dressing up is mandatory in today’s job market. The competition for a limited number of jobs is just too intense to show up looking too casual. Make yourself stand out from the pack by dressing the part of a business professional from day one.

Interchangeable Parts

As long as you have a few standard pieces that coordinate well together, no one need ever know you don’t have a large wardrobe. If you stick with neutral colors — white, black, gray, tan, or cream — you can mix and match your wardrobe pieces accordingly. Use accessories to add color — a red tie, a patterned scarf or a colorful choker that matches your sensible heels. Following this format will net you a decent business wardrobe without breaking the bank. The closet of every busy executive should have the following pieces at minimum:

  • Several Neutral-Color Dress Shirts or Tops
  • Suit Jacket or Blazer in Black, Gray or Navy Blue
  • Several Pair of Dress Slacks, Pants or Fingertip-or-Longer Length Skirt
  • One Pair Each of Heels, Flats and Dress Boots
  • Trouser socks or Pantyhose
  • Fun Accessories

If you stock your closet with these basics, getting through a work week without doing laundry should be a breeze.

Thrifty Spending

Use your time off to shop online and in-store for great deals on business attire. Retailers such as Macy’s and other local department stores often run seasonal sales on famous brand clothing. Use the change of seasons to stock up on cute, affordable basics at a fraction of the regular cost. Signing up for online and mobile coupon alerts can also save you big bucks on your business wardrobe.

  • RetailMeNot: This self-proclaimed digital coupon marketplace now features a mobile app in addition to its online printed coupons. Sign up for free and get the skinny on great exclusive deals at your favorite retailers.
  • Ebates: This shopping site pays you money back for every dollar you spend shopping its online partner stores. If you time it right, you can get as much as 8 percent back on your clothing purchases through your favorite retailers when you shop online through Ebates.

Custom Navigation

According to Michael Glassman, creative director at O Magazine, the perimeters of the store offers up the best deals. Store managers are keen to the fact that customers tend to walk straight into the center of a store to shop. Accordingly, this is where they merchandise all the latest, greatest and most expensive fashions. By shopping the store perimeters first, you’ll find all the best sale and clearance racks and save yourself a ton of money in the process.

Outlets as an Outlet

Famous brand outlet stores often feature the same clothing you’ll find in designer shops for much less. It may be that the sizing is off, the buttons are sewn on crooked or the manufacturer used the wrong color of thread. More often than not, the flaws you’ll find when buying seconds are indistinguishable to the naked eye. And if you can’t see the flaw up close, your co-workers certainly aren’t going to spot it across the conference room. Meanwhile, you’ll save big bucks. Using the local outlets as a resource for building a dream business wardrobe makes good sense.

6 Ways to Earn Money in College

Woman working at the video rental store

Being in school doesn’t have to be synonymous with being flat broke. If you want to enjoy your college life without taking a forceful, time-consuming job, consider any of the following ideas to earn cash:

Tutor Someone

Visit the tutoring center on campus and see if they have any availabilities. Most departments also have independent programs, so you may be able to find jobs by talking to your professors or agency staff. If you don’t feel comfortable tutoring your peers, younger students at nearby elementary and high schools might be looking for a tutor.

Donate Plasma

Similar to giving blood, donating plasma requires sitting and being pricked with a needle. Each site is different but pay ranges from $20-$50 a visit. According to DonatingPlasma.org, federal regulations allow individuals to contribute twice in one week, with at least two days in between donations. Donated plasma is widely used to treat shock, burns and adult respiratory distress syndrome, as well as help clotting and a number of other life-saving therapies.

Work On Campus

Planning on going to all the football games anyway? See if you can score a job selling tickets. Used to spending your time at the library? See if you can restock books, monitor computers and run the front desk. A university is like a little city — there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Visit your school’s employment office to see if there are any on-campus jobs that are right for you. Don’t limit your search by your department. You may not have had a passion for gardening, manning a cash register or shoveling snow before, but you’ll probably discover a new skill, make some friends and earn some money if you hold those positions anyway.

Look Off Campus

College towns are usually surrounded by college hangouts, which make excellent places, find part-time work. Hit up local coffee shops, book stores and yogurt stands to see where you can spend your afternoons working and meeting new people. Job-Applications.com has online jobs for tons of employers such as Target, Subway and Sears. The site also lists jobs by categories, including armed forces, banking, hospital, fitness and more.

Take Odd Jobs

Something seasonal is right up your alley. Offer to mow lawns in summer, rake leaves in fall or shovel snow in winter. Find a T-ball team or soccer league you can coach or referee. Visit a local sorority or frat house and offer your weekly cleaning services. Great for a summer job but still doable during school, babysitting can get you easy money. If you’re good with kids, spread the word. Grad students or professors may need someone to watch their kids while they go to class; if the kid is asleep that’s free money and private study space for you.

Check the Classifieds

Read your college newspaper not to get the latest gossip but to find opportunities to earn some needed funds. The social sciences department, often times, will pay applicants to participate in a sleep study, students will seek tutors or local parents will post help-wanted ads. If you have a particular skill such as a background translating, post your services online and wait for people to come to you.

Death, Taxes, and Drama

I have been working my entire adult life, and although my job at 16 was much different than my current position, there is one thing that hasn’t changed….DRAMA. And, in all my years of working, drama seems to unfortunately only primarily exist with females.

My daughter has gotten a taste of it in her workplace. She has a strong work ethic, does her job, and goes above and beyond. She doesn’t have to be constantly told what to do. She doesn’t make customers seek her out for assistance, she always greets them with a smile and a positive attitude; she takes initiative and cleans when there are no customers; and she helps others out when they are overloaded. Because of this, she’s earned countless bonuses, accommodations from management, and even a personal note from the franchise owner.

But, being recognized as an exemplary employee by a manager, getting kudos from a customer, or getting a note from the owner for a job well done all can spark jealousy in co-workers and put a target square on your back. I’m not really sure why it’s so prevalent with women but many are so insecure in their own performances that they’ll lash out by being cold, distant, unfriendly, and even catty. Of course, such behavior is counter intuitive, when common sense dictates they should be motivated to raise the bar on their own performance. For these types of personalities, they elevate themselves by putting others down.

The sad part is that some workers will shy away from competition and deliberately try not to stand out so as not to become a victim of the catty clique. Although understandable, that’s wrong on so many levels.

First, you aren’t being true to yourself and your own values. You should always do you best, no matter the risk of standing out. You should never feel embarrassed or guilty for going the extra mile or earning a coveted position.

Second, you risk causing yourself to lose financially and be passed up for raises or promotions that will look good on your resume just because you’re worried about a catty co-worker who probably won’t last that long there anyhow.

So, how does a conscientious employee just doing their job deal with the fallout of jealous co-workers?

Always behave professionally. Do your job. Set an example to co-workers and show the boss you can handle it.

Be humble and modest, not cocky or boastful. Don’t get a big head when you get a raise, bonus, or recognition from management. If you begin to hear mumblings behind your back, ignore it. Never stoop to their level.

If you feel like the back-biting is getting out of hand, talk to your co-workers…individually. Remember, they feed off each other’s negativity. Compliment what things you admire in them and try to make them feel good about themselves. Encourage them to raise the bar. Find some common ground. All of this will likely diffuse the hostility if you meet with each of them one-on-one.

Never apologize for your accomplishments.

Be yourself because chances are you are a thoughtful, diligent worker or you never would have achieved successes in the first place.

I wish I could tell you that following these pointers will alleviate having to deal with drama in the workplace but the reality is, the best advice is you should be prepared to deal with it the rest of your working life. Like the old saying goes, the only things you can count on in life are death and taxes. Well, add drama to that list.

Why Spelling is So Important

Facebook post

Funny, isn’t it?  How many times have us parents seen posts like this? From the number of likes shown, I’d say a lot. And actually, it’s not so funny.  It’s a real shame that teens are too lazy, too careless, or just too ignorant to spell correctly and use proper grammar.

Maybe the perception is that it’s no big deal on social media. What really matters is that they spell correctly on important stuff, like schoolwork, college applications, and job applications. I completely disagree. Spelling correctly and using correct grammar is always of utmost importance, especially for teenagers. It has to become habit from a young age.

When I make a type-o on a post or tweet,  it’s embarrassing and I think it reflects poorly on me. Most teenagers simply could care less.

Is it because they are so used to texting that abbreviating has become the habit? Is it because our schools don’t emphasize the importance of spelling and good grammar enough? Is it because parents aren’t explaining why it’s a necessity not only in school but more importantly, in life?

Misspelling or using the wrong tense of a word might lower a grade a few points in class, but when competing for a job, it can eliminate the candidate from consideration altogether. They may never even know why. There are never second chances to make a good first impression.

So, how do we help get teens back on track? Vanessa Van Patten of Radical Parenting shares these smart ideas in this article, Kids, Teens and Spelling, on her blog…

  1. Turn off auto-correct
  2. Encourage the use of handwritten notes to each other in your home, like grocery lists and a white board calendar. Then actually correct mistakes.
  3. If you are a teacher, do more hand written essays and fill-ins on tests.
  4. Do writing practice and free form writing together at home.
  5. Ask your teen to dictate a note while you drive.

Teens Facing Sexual Harrassment on the Job

Most parents are pretty diligent about protecting their kids from online sexual predators, but how many have ever considered there might be predators at their kid’s part-time jobs?   A teenager is far more likely to encounter a sexual predator on the job than online.

Sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse are becoming a silent epidemic in retail outlets, restaurants, and places where young people work.  Forty-six percent of teenage girls working part-time jobs reported that they have encountered some type of inappropriate behavior from a boss while at work and it’s estimated that more than 200,000 teens, both female and male, are victims of sexual harassment on the job every year.

What is sexual harassment?  It’s unwanted sexual behavior and it can take many different forms including, but not limited to, physical contact like groping or grabbing; sexual comments, like name calling, starting rumors, discussions that are sexual in nature, repeated sexual jokes, or remarks about your body; sexual propositions, such as repeated advances for which you’ve declined; stalking; threats; or unwanted communications, like text messages, phone calls, instant messages, or emails.

Very few teens are prepared to face sexual harassment.  Few parents realize it’s a problem or a very real threat.  Schools rarely discuss it.  Employers don’t spend money educating transient part-time workers. And, I even found in my online research, that there isn’t an abundant amount of information online for teens on how to deal with and/or report sexual abuse, bullying, or harassment.

“Sexual harassment is always unacceptable, but when some of the victims are vulnerable teenagers, it is especially unconscionable,” said EEOC’s Acting Chairman, Stuart Ishimaru.  Teens that aren’t prepared or educated on how to handle sexual harassment are often too embarrassed to report it.  They may be too immature, or unaware of their rights.  They may be so eager to please at their new job that they don’t want to rock the boat.  Many times it goes unreported until later, when someone else raises a harassment charge against the same person.

Think about it.  What better place for a predator to try to land a job, where they can take advantage of polite, obedient, eager to please teenage employees where they know the chances of getting caught are slim.  Harassers and predators are manipulative, and very good at blaming the victim.  Be aware, it’s more likely to happen in small mom and pop shops where there are no documented policies against sexual harassment.

So what should a teen do who encounters sexual harassment?  Situations are unique so it’s hard to give a definitive answer, but, they should always refuse to join in or accept it. Ask the offender to stop.  Some times that’s enough but often times the offender will laugh it off, or turn it on the employee saying they asked for it.  Always tell parents and/or an adult you trust.  Keep a record of all the occurrences, i.e., save pictures, videos, texts, and keep notes.  If you see it happening to a co-worker, step in and try to help.    If it continues to be a problem, don’t be afraid to speak up, report to higher ups or authorities, or take legal action.

In the instance of under aged victims of sexual harassment or abuse, it can be both a civil offense, and a criminal one.  Even if an under aged teenager succumbs to a sexual relationship with a boss, it’s considered statutory rape.

Here is a list of resources for concerned parents and victims published by Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.   Also, the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has a section specifically targeted for Youth at Work.  PBS did a documentary in 2009 addressing the epidemic, titled Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?  Even if you don’t watch the episode, the website offers a great deal of useful information.

“There are workshops and lesson for kindergartners and first-graders on good touch, bad touch, and saying no,” says E.J Graff, Associate Director and Senior Researchers of the Gender & Justice Project at Braindeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. “But we need more sophisticated lessons at 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.  We don’t offer that, and that’s when they start developing.”  Until there is more awareness on teenager sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse in the workplace, parent’s must be diligent about educating their kids and keeping a watchful eye, just like you do by checking their online activity.  Visit their workplaces and observe how their bosses interact.  As an involved parent, you may unknowingly send a message to a predator that they’re not going to get away with harassing your kid.

Why I Think It’s Important for Teens to Work

This is my daughter, Haley, working at the UT v Fla game. She’s not smiling but she said she had a blast even though it was HARD work!

It helps me to remind myself why I went into this endeavor to help teens find jobs and so I decided to share with you, too.

First I have never aspired to be an entrepreneur, and I still don’t.  Launching this product and website and all the things associated with them has been daunting especially while also balancing a family with 2 teenagers (& 3  dogs), and a fulltime career.   Not enough hours in the day.

So why did I? The honest answer is because after stumbling across the idea of “Application Bling” when I was helping my own daughter find a job, it worked so well and there was nothing else like it on the market, I figured I better jump on it before someone else did.  Otherwise, I’d be kicking myself ten years from now when more Application Bling was sold than Silly Bands, and I’d be sick that someone else was delighting in its success.

But there’s another compelling reason, too.  (Get ready for my soapbox.)  I’m passionate about the importance of teenagers getting jobs. When teens learn responsibility and establish a good work ethic, it will positively affect not only their futures, but also the future of our nation.  As adults, they’ll have greater value for the things they’ve worked hard for and they’ll have better perspectives about finances and credit. How many teenagers really get the difference between $400 and $4,000? Our present economic culture is a very real consequence of too many years of expecting immediate gratification enabled by easy credit.  And easy bankruptcy.

I don’t pretend to be innocent in this.  We’ve spoiled our kids (and dogs) and provided them with way more than they’ll ever need, but that is all the more reason, we insisted they get jobs at 16 or earlier (referring to kids, not the dogs).  It’s time for them to learn what it takes to earn a dollar.  It’s so funny to hear our daughter beg for something she just “has to have”, and suddenly when we suggest she use her own money, she no longer wants it.  I so love saying, “You have money. You buy it.”

Whether or not a teenager pursues college, a blue-collar career, the military, stay-at-home parenting, their own business, or whatever, the important thing is for them to find something they’ll take pride in and do a good job. The millennial generation is faced with some big economic challenges. I’ll be proud to see them embrace an attitude of ownership and responsibility and if something we’re offering on this website and facebook page enables that, then it will all be worth it.