Work

What Kind of Stuff Do Employers Search for When I Apply for a Job?

Thorin Klosowski , Gawker Media

What Kind of Stuff Do Employers Search for When I Apply for a Job?

Dear Lifehacker,
I've been applying for a lot of jobs recently, and I'm wondering what kind of research an employer might do on me. What do they find in background checks? Do they look online too?

Sincerely,
Worried Searchers

Dear WS,
Employers often do quite a bit of research on you before they hire you. Background checks are common in some industries, and a general search online is almost guaranteed for every job these days. Here's what you can expect employers to look for, and how you can clean up what they'll find.

They'll Search for You on Google

What Kind of Stuff Do Employers Search for When I Apply for a Job?

For most jobs, the first thing any employer is going to do is a quick Google search for your name. This will likely pull up your social network profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter, as well as any other mentions of your name online. So, you want these results to look good.

We've covered how to manipulate the information that pops up about you on Google before, and it's essentially about making sure that the first results on Google are all positive. With some tweaking to your social network profiles you can ensure that if nothing else, the bad news is buried pretty deep.

If a good first impression isn't really possible, you can always split your online and real world identity, but remember that employers want to find information about you, so make sure your real identity account still has a lot going on.

So, start with a quick Google search of your name. What you see should be pretty close to what your employer will see, so if there's anything in those results that needs to get cleaned up, do so before you apply. Likewise, it's not a bad idea to spruce up your profiles with new images, recent achievements, and anything else. Your social network profiles are essentially light resume's, so make sure they're in order. Otherwise, clear up your privacy so that only information you want a potential employer to see pops up.

Employers can dig a lot deeper if they want. As CNN points out, employers might come across information like Amazon wish lists, campaign donations, and plenty more if they know where to look. Chances are they're using the same tools available to you, so if you're especially worried it's worth stalking yourself for a while before sending off that resume.

They'll Run a Background Check on You

What Kind of Stuff Do Employers Search for When I Apply for a Job?

Some employers will also do a formal background check. This is usually a service they pay for that takes a few days to complete. Generally speaking, you'll need to provide your name, your last few addresses, and a social security number. From there, your potential employer will send off that information, and get back a list of details about you, including: credit reports, criminal records, certain medical records, bankruptcies, military service, and workers' compensation records. Generally, these background checks are just to check criminal history.

Thankfully, it's pretty easy to clean up these results if you need to. The Consumerist has a massive list of places to run a total background check on yourself, and you can remove yourself from a bulk of these lists with a single opt-out list. Opting out will at least help you get your name off the majority of the major public background check sites. That said, certain details, like arrest records will always be public.

They'll Research Previous Salaries and Employers

What Kind of Stuff Do Employers Search for When I Apply for a Job?

Finally, your potential employer may also verify your previous salaries, employers, and positions. This used to require a series of phone calls, but these days it's as easy as a quick look online. According to a recent survey from SHRM, 76% of employers verify your resume data. That includes details about former employers, employment dates, and job titles. Which is to say, you should be honest on your resume.

As CNN points out, this is why embellishing your salary is often a bad idea. If you lie about a previous salary in hopes of getting a better one at a new job, you'll likely get caught as it's incredibly easy to track that information down.

The fact is, it's easy for employers to research you, and they're going to do it. Cleaning up your social networks is easy, but it's important to remember to keep your resume honest while you're at it.

Good luck,
Lifehacker

Photo by tokyoimagegroups (Shutterstock), Evan Jackson.

Comments are moderated and will be allowed if they are about the topic and not abusive.
Characters Remaining: 3000
To post this comment you must Log In/Connect with:

Get simple answers
to complex
questions

x
Recommended for you