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.

Now That You’ve Graduated: Best States For Young Adult Employment

With fewer jobs available and tuition rates rising, the pressure to quickly find employment and pay off student loans appears worse than ever in U.S. history. Seven in 10 students graduate with loan debt, with an average value of nearly $30,000, according to ProjectonStudentDebt.org. The key to getting a job may not be your degree, however. It may be where you live. What states maximize the chances of getting a job upon graduation?

North Dakota

The oil boom of the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota (as well as Montana and parts of Canada) has created a huge upswing in the state’s economy. It’s not the first oil boom in America’s history and likely won’t be the last, but it’s similar to many others in the nation’s history as having higher average wages make employers drive up their salaries in order to attract qualified workers. The rise in wages has gotten so high that Wal-Mart is offering associates $14 per hour (twice the federal minimum wage that their employees get in nearly every other state) and still having trouble stocking shelves. An educational background in petroleum engineering or organic chemistry can lead to six-figure wages upon graduation, but other fields like middle management, accounting and marketing all have positions that need to be filled as soon as possible.

Photo by Vaughan Weather via Wikimedia Commons

Colorado

The Centennial State has made the headlines in the last year for their legalization of marijuana, but it’s not just recreational cannabis that’s causing the good financial times in Colorado. Moody’s reports that the Colorado economy ranks fifth in overall growth in the nation, well beating out the national average with housing prices only slightly higher than the national average. Hospitality management is a great career choice for those wanting to move to Colorado, since hotels and resorts need skilled managers and operators in order to accommodate the millions of visitors who come to the state each year for skiing, hiking, white-water rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking. When you’re looking at your first place to live after four years in the dorms, there are many affordable living options for apartments in Denver and other major cities. Since the Denver metro area is the largest in the state and centrally located, you can conveniently live in the city even if you work elsewhere in the state.

Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr

Florida

A huge number of industries come together in the Sunshine State, ranging from orange farming to commercial shipping. Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay all fall within the top-25 busiest port cities in the nation. Florida’s a growing destination for younger adults after being known as the “retirement home” for elder Americans for decades. More recent graduates and young professionals search out warmer climates and rewarding, alternative careers. Moving to the largest peninsula in the lower 48 is fairly easy, since the Florida housing market has been heating up and more people are looking for new units and new vacancies. In fact, pursuing a career as a realtor in Florida can be quite rewarding. Those with degrees in property management, real estate or property law can find themselves not only living for less, but profiting from the state’s housing market.

Photo by Ellen Levy Finch via Wikimedia Commons

The Top Tools & Resources to Land an Awesome Job

The average American job hunt currently takes about 36 weeks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re facing nine months of lost wages, invest in a solid strategy to shorten your job search. Focus on these key areas to increase your odds of finding a job:

Career Guidance

It’s harder to find a job when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. More than half of Americans want to switch careers, a Harris survey found, and only 14 percent feel they have found their dream job. Among employees in their 20s, 80 percent want to change careers. By the time workers reach their 40s, 54 percent still want a career change. This lack of direction makes it hard to focus a job hunt.

Get career guidance to steer you in the right direction. If you’re still in school or have alumni privileges, you can use your school’s career counseling resources and job placement opportunities. If you’re out of school, you can find similar guidance from career counselors and centers. You can also use online resources, such as vocational and personality tests. Some tests are free, while others provide premium career assessment for as little as $9.95—well worth the investment, we think.

Your Skills

As you gain career guidance, you may find you need to continue your education to achieve your goals. In some cases this may involve going back to school to earn a degree. In others, it may mean attending a workshop, taking one class or reading a book to pick up a specific skill set.

To help finance your educational endeavors, the U.S. Department of Education administers the federal student aid website. Several types of financing options are available, including federal programs and private funding sources. Begin with the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Examples of private funding options include school channel loans and direct-to-consumer loans. You may be able to raise the necessary capital by selling your future structured settlement or annuity payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth.

Keep in mind that many universities now offer free massive open online courses (MOOCs) which you can use to build and enhance your skill set, too.

Polish Your Resume

The quality of your resume is a key factor in determining whether your applications and inquiries result in interviews. Consider contacting a professional resume writer to help you develop a professional resume. You can contact experienced resume writers through an individual writer’s website or through a professional organization such as the National Resume Writers’ Association.

Prepare for Interviews

The success of your job hunt ultimately stands or falls on the strength of your interview. Be prepared. In addition to buying formal clothes, you might consider buying a quality webcam for virtual interviews—a survey by the staffing agency Manpower found that 18 percent of job seekers were interviewed via Skype in 2013. You can buy a high-definition webcam with good audio for under $40.

Wearing Glasses to an Interview May Give You an Edge

You’ve got the qualifications to do the job perfectly; unfortunately, so do 50 other people for every job you interview for. According to one study, 75 percent of America’s work force is either actively seeking or open to a new job. That’s a lot of competition, so even tiny improvements that impress hiring managers are worth doing to distinguish yourself from the pack. Wearing glasses to an interview is a proven method for giving yourself a signature look, making yourself memorable in the eyes of any interviewer.

Down to Business

Wearing a pair of glasses can signal to a hiring professional that you’re here for serious business and won’t indulge in frivolous behavior. A good portion of adults believe wearing glasses makes you look more professional. No matter what your eyesight situation, you’ll be perceived as not taking the time for vain concepts like contact lenses, but instead prefer to concentrate on the important details such as intelligently handling the job.

Look Smarter

Sure, we all know it’s a myth. People of all intelligence levels have different types of eyesight problems, or lack of them. Needing glasses has absolutely nothing to do with how brainy you are. No matter how much we may know it in our heads, people with glasses still look smarter than those without. It’s cultural conditioning and very hard to break. Give yourself an advantage in a job interview situation by donning a pair of glasses. The odds are good that you’ll be taken more seriously as an intelligent applicant, and thus more able to perform your job duties.

Look Current

Many modern workplaces like their employees to look current and up-to-date, and glasses have been a hot fashion accessory for years. Check out Hollywood stories with pictures of your favorite stars and you’re bound to see a lot of them sporting glasses on their time off. Optometry manufacturers know this and produce lines of glasses frames with designers from old-school classics like Armani and Coach to newer stars like Tory Burch and Maui Jim. Brightly colored frames that match outfits are all the rage, as are super-serious Buddy Holly clones with anti-style chic.

Don’t Usually Wear Them?

What if your eyesight is perfect or you usually wear contact lenses? It’s perfectly fine to buy a pair of glasses frames with clear lenses and wear them, just as you would a necklace or any other fashion accessory. You can buy your contacts from Visiondirect.com as usual, then add glasses with clear glass lenses that won’t affect your vision. Don’t make the mistake of trying to go cheaper and wearing frames with no lenses. That just ends up looking like a costume. Clear plastic or glass lenses are very inexpensive and worth the cost for the professional look you’ll portray.

Have a Criminal Record? Here’s How to Deal with it with Employers

white collar 2It is always good for the potential employee to perform their own background check prior to applying for a job. Having a criminal record can haunt a person for the rest of his or her life. More and more people are running background checks as a precautionary measure before they proceed with any dealings with a person. This is especially true in an employment situation. Employers will run a routine background check on a person to make sure that there are not any red flags raised. Worker turnover is one of the most expensive aspects of a business and running background checks prior to hiring an employee helps to mitigate this risk to a large degree.

There are Options

Having a criminal record is not the end of the world though. There are steps that employers as well as volunteer and sports organizations can take to help increase the chances or hiring the right person. The first step that should always be taken is to be forthcoming with information regarding the criminal record. The employers, volunteer and sports organizations are going to run a background check anyway so do not wait for them to find out before addressing the issue. Waiting for them to find the criminal record can reflect even more negatively on the person because they may feel that the potential employee is trying to hide this information. If they are trying to hide this information, then what else might they try to hide?

Be Upfront

The best thing to do is to address the issue head on. During the interview process, be up front and clear about what is on the criminal record. Give a detailed list of all of the information that is on the criminal record and then offer explanations as to how this happened. The employer can take this additional information given and then make a clearer evaluation on whether or not to make the hire. If they feel that the crime was accidental or just something that is out of normal character for the potential employee, they may be willing to look past that.

One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of getting parts of the criminal record expunged before applying for a job. Always review your own criminal background check report to see if records are eligible for expungement. If they are eligible then take the steps to get them expunged before applying for the job.

Benefits of Expungement

There are more benefits beyond getting a job that make expungement appealing. One of those is loans. There are some lenders that will look poorly on a criminal record as they believe it to be evidence of a failure to pay back a loan. Expunging a record will make that process easier on the individual.

Living arrangements are another area where people can benefit from expungement. It is not uncommon for apartments or landlords to have a background checks on their tenants. By having a record expunged, it can make it much easier to omit a past criminal record.

There is often a stigma that can come with a criminal record. By choosing to eliminate a criminal record, it can provide a peace of mind for the individual.

About the Author

Michael KlazemaMichael 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 a background checks blog and community. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

Stand Out in the Crowd at the Next Networking Event

It’s not uncommon for you to get a job because of networking or get a connection a job because of your referral. Entrepreneur reported on a 2012 Referral Institute survey that states “92 percent of 12,000 people said that networking played an important role in their success.” Build your networking skills and enhance how you interact with people face-to-face while job searching or promoting your business by using these pointers.

Take It Offline

In this age of digital communication, it’s easy to spend hours in front of the computer emailing, chatting and using social media to stay in touch. Once you make a connection in your industry, take your professional contact offline as soon as you can. Offer to meet for coffee and chat about business. Suggest meeting at a local networking event. Get yourself physically in front of the person as soon as you can to build a relationship — this is where networking truly begins.

Share Business Cards

Always have business cards with you, and use a business card holder so they stay clean. As you prepare for design and business card printing, keep in mind that white card stock and blank backgrounds have a positive aesthetic effect. It also creates a space for people to make notes. Start with standard fonts and no more than two colors — minimalism is eye-catching. The goal is not to impress people with elaborate design skills. The goal is to provide easy-to-access contact information.

Also, include a unique title on your business card and use it as a conversation starter. For instance, replace “graphics design artist” with “graphics design collaborator.” Its edginess will compel people to inquire about your specialties and experience.

Practice Your Pitch

The 30-second elevator speech is your first impression. At a minimum, it should cover your name, title, what role you perform, and the impact of your expertise. Keep it under 30 seconds. Practice it in front of the mirror until it flows easily and effortlessly. If you can deliver it flawlessly in response to someone asking you, “So, what do you do?” then you’re already selling yourself. Your goal is to interest people and have them invest in you.

Listen More Than You Speak

As you network, engage people by listening intently, says Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., in Training Magazine. People remember (and respect) good listeners more than those who egotistically dominate a conversation. Your interest and curiosity about another person, their job and their company fosters good rapport and invites you to become part of someone else’s network.

Offer to Help

Leave an impression by offering a way to help a new connection. Present yourself as a giver, rather than a taker. Avoid statements such as, “Let me know if any jobs become available in your company,” which can be off-putting and a turn off. Before a networking event or meetup, ask yourself what value you can provide to others.

What Not to Do When Applying for Jobs

Graduating from college is an exciting first step into the real world. It opens the door to finally pursue your desired career path. Starting down that path isn’t as simple as it seems. Landing a job can be as challenging as surviving final exams.

Job seekers can sabotage their chances for being hired through making avoidable mistakes while applying for a job. Going from college grad to working professional starts by creating a road map for success.

Resumes and Cover Letters

You make your first impression with a hiring manager through a resume or cover letter. If either document is littered with typos, poor grammar or meaningless filler, the only impression you will make is a bad one.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that hiring managers and recruiters spend as little as 30 seconds reviewing each resume and cover letter they receive. That is a small window to draw their attention for the right reasons.

A cover letter should only contain essential nuts and bolts. Limit it to 3-4 paragraphs describing why you are sending the letter, how you heard about the job opening and why you are qualified for this particular job.

Resumes should contain your contact information at the top of the page. It should be no longer than one page and should contain your objective, work experience, education and any applicable skills, honors, awards and licenses.

Avoid including meaningless filler. If information has nothing to do with the job at hand, a hiring manager or recruiter will not care about it.

Online Reputation

Posting photos from a wild sorority mixer or an outrageous spring break trip on a social media account may seem harmless. The only problem is hiring managers and recruiters also use social media. Seeing those things will make them to think twice about bringing you aboard — no matter how good your resume looks.

Monster notes that how you portray yourself online and how others portray you can limit your job prospects if it puts you in a bad light.

Cleaning up your online reputation matters when you start into a job search. You want to eradicate the bad things that might turn up in search engine results. If you need assistance in wiping your slate clean, getting professional help can make the difference.

smiling businesswoman interviewing with businessman in office

Companies such as Reputation.com protect and improve online reputations for both individuals and businesses through creating, optimizing and monitoring their online information.

Job Interviews

Appearance and attitude are everything in a job interview. It feels comfortable to hang out all day a bathrobe and slippers. Showing up to an interview in that outfit, on the other hand, isn’t the smartest course of action.

Forbes reported that employers usually decide if a candidate is right for the job within the first 10 seconds of meeting them. Dress for success. Avoid wearing disheveled or revealing clothing. A clean and professional outfit gives an impression that your personality matches your attire.

A good attitude is essential during an interview. If you come across as arrogant about past accomplishments and current skills, interviewers may not see you as a team member. Failure to research the company or offer details about your education and experience give an impression that you are too unprepared or lazy to function well as an employee.

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.

Is Your Teen Worried About Finding a Job in 2013?

Although the economy is definitely picking up steam, teen unemployment remains at an all-time high, with 17% of teen’s age 16-24 jobless and not enrolled in school. According to many experts, the outlook for 2013 isn’t showing much improvement for younger workers as unemployed adults continue to muscle in on jobs usually filled by teens, especially in the retail sector.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for parents of teens.  In the past few years, their attitudes toward their teenage children working have changed. Before the recession hit in 2008, many middle and upper-middle class teenagers didn’t feel the need to get a job.  Money for shopping, entertainment, and eating out seemed to be in abundance as parents dolled out $20 bills, sometimes, daily, so that their kids wouldn’t miss out.

Now, however, as more middle and upper-middle class families have seen changes in employment themselves, and less money coming in, parents are re-thinking the message they’re sending their teenagers.  More and more parents think it’s important for teens to learn the value of a dollar and establish a good work ethic at a young age.  The very best way to do this is through a job of their own.

What can your teenager do to increase their chances of landing a job in 2013 and how can you help?

Network like crazy. Kids should ask their parents if they know anyone who owns or works for a business that might be hiring teens. Utilize social media to put out feelers or get leads. Then, parents can help their teen prepare to contact that friend, or friend of a friend, and ask them if they could use some help with their business; and equally as important, parents should help their teen prepare for rejection. Rehearse what to say ahead of time and develop a good follow-up line in case they don’t hear an enthusiastic response from the person. Explain to them not to take it personally if the person isn’t aware of a job opening at that time. It’s vital to not give up. You never know when a position might open up, and the sheer fact the teen took the initiative to call might put them at the top of the list of candidates when a job does become available.

Get special training.  Certifications in CPR or special first aid training can make a teen stand out in many types of jobs, including retail. Likewise, being proficient in Microsoft programs, like Excel and PowerPoint, is attractive for part-time positions in office settings. Many times, there is free training for computer programs available online and all it takes is a little time to do the research to find it, and then complete it.

Cast a wide net.  In reality, searching for a job is a job in and of itself, especially if done right. That means putting in lots of hours and applying at many businesses. For big retails chains, teens can apply for jobs online, but remember, nothing beats face-to-face contact. Even if applying online, your teenager should make a trip to the local store with another copy of their application and ask to hand it straight to the manager, if possible. Help them be prepared on what they’ll say should the manager want to learn a little more about them on the spot. It only stands to reason, the more places your teen applies, the more contacts they make, the more prepared they are, the more likely they are to land a job.

Think out of the box.  Think creatively and look for ways to make your job application stand apart from all the others that, at first glance, all look the same.  One great way is adding Application Bling®.  Application Bling® is a colorful sticker sort of like a post-it note that job seekers apply to a job application that highlights their goal plus best qualities and achievements.  The colored sticker alone makes the application stand apart from the others in the pile but by adding their goal and accomplishments, your teen can make a great first impression.  It’s especially smart for teens with little or no previous work experience as it enables them to bring attention to accomplishments they earned in school or during extra-curricular activies,  plus it highlights qualities that an employer might find desirable, like taking ownership or being a people person.  (They can also add special training as mentioned above.)  Using Application Bling® shows initiative, and many times that is a quality an employer seeks the most from teen workers.

While there are many great life lessons your teen can learn from having a job, things like learning how to work as part of a team, understanding the value of earning their own money, learning respect for their bosses and customers, there are also important lessons to be learned from the job search itself.  Dilegence and persistence are two qualities that will help your teen as they transition into adulthood no matter what  career path they choose.