Most job seekers know that employers conduct some kind of background check before they extend a job offer. After all, we’re used to listing past employers on job applications, and HR routinely calls the companies listed on our resumes to verify the work we’ve done. But you may not realize the extent to which many businesses will go in their quest to confirm that you’re the right hire. For instance, did you know they’ll often conduct credit checks and take a look at your social media profiles?
If you’re regular job seeker just trying to make your way in a tough economy like the rest of us, chances are you haven’t committed a serious crime, and your past isn’t riddled with dark secrets. But you may have some issues with creditors (long-term unemployment can wreak havoc on our finances), etc. And you may be wondering how much influence the details of your past can have over your future. How long will you be haunted, for example, by a firing or lay-off? What are the odds that a previous employer will say negative things about you during a routine reference check? Can an unpaid parking ticket tank your job prospects?
One of the reasons I find it hard to ask for recommendations is that I sometimes get asked for one by people I don’t know well. I take my reputation very seriously, and giving a personal endorsement to someone is for me, a very big deal. After all, your reputation hangs on this person’s future performance. If the person turns out not to be competent, your judgment is questioned. If the person does something bad, your character is in question.
Recently, a jobseeker wrote to us with this question: “I need some advice on what to say to potential employers about the reason for leaving my past job. I received a message today from a company with a possible job, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity. I was dismissed from my last job because an employee starting a rumor about me…"