Wednesday, August 19, 2009

True Confessions: Problem with Employment Background Checks

When filling out a job application, you must include all jobs (short- and long-term), especially if the company conducts employment background checks. Although omitting a job is not the same as lying, on an application it's considered not telling the whole truth. Here's how one job seeker corrected his mistake of omitting a job on his application, which saved the day. Continue reading...


Ronnie Ann said...

This is a terrific post, Susan! I get asked questions all the time about how honest to be both in resumes and on job applications. Agree with you on this one 100% and it seems so does Bob's NEW employer. Wuhoo! Resumes can omit some smaller inconsequential jobs (and often should), but your job application is going to live on and on.

Congratulations Bob. Love happy endings!

wrobinson said...

I'm confused, don't list jobs on your resume, but put them in an application form, but then have a stock-letter explaining the delta?

For a five-week job?

How about don't list it on your resume or your application. I think it is a value judgment, but I haven't heard of anyone being fired for leaving a position off their resumes and most people I know have had short-gigs that don't make sense to put into a CV.

Regarding the 'application' - pretty much every job I ever had the application was a formality more than anything and your employer can fire you pretty much at any time with little cause (or lay you off).

I say keep it simple.

Susan Ireland said...

Resumes and job applications are two different animals.

You may leave a short-term job off your resume because an omission is not a lie.

However, most application forms ask you to list each job you held in the last X years. In that case, you MUST include all jobs, even short-term ones.

My advice to Bob regarding the letter is not something he would have needed if he had listed the job on the application form. However, because he knew a background check might reveal his omission, he felt more comfortable revealing the mistake (and covering his butt) in writing, to set the record straight.

It's true that an employer can fire for no cause in most cases. However, why give an employer an easy way to hand you a pink slip?

Let's say a co-worker at the company wants to get rid of you. He could instigate your job termination by having your personnel records pulled and pointing to the omission on your application. If you have the email you sent the employer about the correction, you might be able to beat the termination.

Laurie said...

I think the term "must" is misleading. Respectfully, companies leave off information from their job descriptions and they provide incomplete information when offering you a compensation package. There is no federal law saying you have to list a five-week job on an application. They're not going to fire you for leaving it off. They'll fire you for incompetence and then use the five week delta as an excuse to justify your termination.

So don't suck at your new job and you won't have any problems.

Most of the time, companies are only verifying the employment that you list on your application. While they *can* figure out if you held a job at some point, they don't care and usually aren't looking...

Ronnie Ann said...

Interesting discussion. I think I have to amend my initial reaction slightly.

I still think the best way is to list jobs on the application if at all possible. But I also agree with Laurie that there's no absolute mandate you list every job on an employment application. Still...for my own sanity...I usually try to account for the time in one way or another. Since I have a LONG job history and I've done a lot of short-term jobs at different points in my life, rather than listing each one, I sometimes simply lump them as temp work or various consulting on an application.

I think listing all jobs on the application (or at least accounting for those periods) keeps it real, and avoids any problems just in case an employer hears about this other job (like in a small town); leaving it out can be a reason to dismiss too, should they be looking for one. (No law needs to have been broken in employment-at-will states.)

But Laurie's other point about not sucking at your job is certainly one to keep in mind! ;-)

Susan Ireland said...

I appreciate the thoughtful responses. A few points:

Omissions on Applications
Click on the following links to see two sample applications forms provided in the Job Application Guide by Alison Doyle. Note the language on the forms just before the applicant's signature:

Here's the wording on the first Sample Job Application Form:
I certify that information contained in this application is true and complete. I understand that false information may be grounds for not hiring me or for immediate termination of employment at any point in the future if I am hired. I authorize the verification of any or all information listed above.

On page 2 of the second
application form, it reads:
I certify that I have not purposely withheld any information that might adversely affect my chances for hiring. I attest to the fact that the answers given by me are true & correct to the best of my knowledge and ability. I understand that any omission, (including any misstatement) of material fact on this application or on any document used to secure can be grounds for rejection of application or, if I am employed by this company, terms for my immediate expulsion from the company.

Details of this wording is open to argument, I admit. One won't be put in jail for omitting a job on the resume, so perhpas in my previous comment I should have said, "you are expected to include all jobs," instead of "you MUST include all jobs." Your signature on the application essential says that you've complied to the application's terms.

I take issue with Laurie's comment, "So don't suck at your new job and you won't have any problems." I've had many emails from people who've been fired for reasons other than poor performance. Usually office politics is involved, and the company looks for an excuse to fire a seemingly good employee. For example, see these posts:
Fired for “Porn” Site Browsing
Fired for Health Issue"
Fired by a Bad Boss
Surprise Job Termination
Fired But Don’t Know Why

Susan Ireland said...

Link Corrections in my last comment. Sorry, I messed up on the following links:

2nd page of second application form

Links to posts:
Fired for Health Issue
Fired by a Bad Boss
Surprise Job Termination

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Alison Doyle said...

I'm with Susan, for a couple of reasons. One, a lie, even by omission, on your job application (which you have signed in person or attested to electronically) is still a lie.

Secondly, is it really worth having the possibility of losing your job and getting fired hanging over your head because you weren't honest?

Court Records said...

All employees or applicant need to be background check or employment background check for security to the company.

Susan thanks for this post!