Congratulations! You were just offered your dream job. Challenging work, great salary and benefits, easy commute…everything you could ever ask for. You give your two weeks’ notice and wait to start your new job. The day before you are scheduled to start you get a call from Human Resources, You did not pass your background check and they are rescinding the offer. You go from having the perfect job, to having no job. I have seen it happen more than once, yet I have rarely seen a situation where it was unavoidable.
Here are some tips to keep in mind and avoid such pitfalls.
Our parents have been warning us against the perils of lying since we were children, yet I am amazed how many people still feel like lying is the best option available to them. Make no mistake, you will get caught. That is the whole point of a background check.
There is an entire industry built around catching lies. Do not think you can beat the system. When you fill out a background check form, fill it out with 100% true information. If you did not complete your degree, don’t claim you did. If you worked at a company for two months, do not claim it was two years. If you committed a felony, even if it was years ago, let them know. They will find out soon enough anyway and you would be surprised how much weight your openness can carry.
True Story – We had a Network Engineer consultant start work at a bank while his background check was still pending. He had already been working for a week when it came back that he had committed a non-violent felony 8 years earlier. The decision on whether to keep him was left to his manager. The manager decided to let him go, but not because of the felony. Rather he let him go because he lied about it on his application. He was willing to overlook the indiscretion in his past, but he was not willing to work someone who would lie to him.
It is not unusual for a candidate to forget exactly which month he/she started or finished at a particular job. This becomes more common as you go farther down your resume to jobs that happened many years ago. Unfortunately that does not make it right to fudge the month or year. Most companies will allow you to be off by a month or two, but that is all.
It would be a good idea to keep your resume updated throughout your career. When you start at a new job, add it to your resume. You can add on specific accomplishments as they occur, but make sure you document the start date while it’s fresh in your mind. In most cases all you will need is the month and year, not the exact day. If you don’t have that information, consult your tax records. Your W2s should be able to tell you when you started a new job. Another place to check would be your banking statements. Your bank should be able to provide you with bank statements from your past transactions. Simply look up when you started depositing paychecks from that job. You can also just call your previous employer’s HR department and ask them. After all, that’s exactly what the background check company is going to do.
Remember that you applied to this job with a resume that already had your educational and employment history on it. If you fill out a background check and the information is not the same as the resume, it will get flagged and the offer will be rescinded. Most companies do compare the two documents. Put the proper amount of care into the accuracy of your resume as you do the accuracy of your background check and you won’t have anything to worry about.
The application and interview process required for a new job can sometimes seem like a marathon. Don’t trip yourself with the finish line in sight. Take the proper steps to make sure you are doing things the right way and that dream job will be yours!