SSN on job applications

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DiggleRex
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SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:20 am

I’m currently searching for a job. After my last interview, which was definitely the wrong company for me, I immediately regretted putting my social on the application I filled out. I wondered what they would do with it after the fact (e.g., hold onto it for a certain amount of time, shred it, scan it, etc.). I searched online to get views on how to handle this, and a common position was don’t give it until necessary, such as when an offer is ready to be made. After all, why would a company who is not going to make me an offer (and therefore is not going to do a background check) need my social? One suggestion I saw was that in the area of an application where it asks for SSN, to write something like “SSN available upon job offer.” To provide some context, my credit is frozen, and I’m talking about filling out applications in person. I don’t want to make the process of getting a job more complex or time consuming by leaving out info that they'll later need, but simultaneously, I don’t want to give out my SSN recklessly because for every place that I give it to that I end up not working at, that’s one more place where it’s unnecessarily floating around and who knows what they do with those applications. Any opinions on how to approach this?

livesoft
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by livesoft » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:22 am

At the present time, I just assume everyone has my SSN whether I like it or not, so giving it out to someone such as physicians, clients, is not a big deal anymore.
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Liberty1100
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Liberty1100 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:24 am

I agree. It is a sketchy practice. I hate it when they also ask for references on the initial application.

DiggleRex
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:29 am

Liberty1100 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:24 am
I agree. It is a sketchy practice. I hate it when they also ask for references on the initial application.
Yes, agreed. I thought the suggestion to write "SSN available upon offer" wasn't a bad idea. If they questioned me as to why, I could always keep it brief and say something like, "My info was compromised in the Equifax hack, and I prefer to not give it until necessary when we're in a later stage." Because in my mind, if we don't make it to that later stage, there's no reason for them to have it.

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randomizer
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by randomizer » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:30 am

livesoft wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:22 am
At the present time, I just assume everyone has my SSN whether I like it or not, so giving it out to someone such as physicians, clients, is not a big deal anymore.
I also assume the cat is out of the bag, the horses have bolted from the barn, and the bird has flown the coop.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by S&L1940 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:35 am

Agree spreading a SS # around the planet is a problem waiting to happen.
Yet, how does a prospective employer make a job offer before checking background/references?
Every doctor I visit has my Medicare # which is also my SS #, not sure we can get around that although Medicare is supposedly going to eventually issue new IDs.
Have you tried just giving your last four digits?
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Rupert » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:43 am

randomizer wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:30 am
livesoft wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:22 am
At the present time, I just assume everyone has my SSN whether I like it or not, so giving it out to someone such as physicians, clients, is not a big deal anymore.
I also assume the cat is out of the bag, the horses have bolted from the barn, and the bird has flown the coop.
Perversely, the only benefit to having your identity stolen (and I mean social security number, not just your credit card number) is that you no longer have to worry about having your identity stolen. Once the number is out there, it's out there forever. You freeze your credit and just move on.

DiggleRex
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:59 am

S&L1940 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:35 am
Yet, how does a prospective employer make a job offer before checking background/references?
Thanks for your reply. I don't have enough interview experience to answer this, but that's kind of my point. From my point of view, there's no reason for them to have my SSN unless we're going to reach later stages of the process (e.g., they're going to make me an offer and run a check). In my original example, the reason I regretted giving it, is that I could tell immediately it was as total mismatch, and I was going to leave that interview never seeing them again, and yet they now had my social, which they wouldn't need since we weren't going to go any further in the process.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Nate79 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:30 am

In my past experience with multiple employers your application would be discarded if you didn't include the SSN. Good luck.

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cfs
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by cfs » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 am

Come on now, your social security number, your date of birth, your credit card number, your driver licence number, your place of birth, your home address, your cell phone number, etc, all this is out there for anyone to purchase for just a few bucks. Welcome to the information super highway, this time it's different, CHANGE is GOOD [anyone not in agreement, please send me a reply using your Mod 28 Teletype or IBM Mechanical typewriter]. Wishing all Bogleheads a Merry Christmas, and thanks for reading.
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HueyLD
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by HueyLD » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:52 am

When I attempted to sign up for a new utility service, they asked for my SSN and I refused to provide it. They said: "No problem. We can get it some other way."

This is the new reality in life.

taguscove
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by taguscove » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:58 am

cfs wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 am
Come on now, your social security number, your date of birth, your credit card number, your driver licence number, your place of birth, your home address, your cell phone number, etc, all this is out there for anyone to purchase for just a few bucks. Welcome to the information super highway, this time it's different, CHANGE is GOOD [anyone not in agreement, please send me a reply using your Mod 28 Teletype or IBM Mechanical typewriter]. Wishing all Bogleheads a Merry Christmas, and thanks for reading.
Agreed, there are way easier and cheaper ways of getting anyone's SSN than digging through employment applications submitted to companies. Just assume that your SSN is public domain knowledge posted on Wikipedia. Anybody wishing otherwise is just unaware of the reality.

Identity theft is a numbers game, hoping that the professional thieves don't happen to choose you. If you're identity gets stolen, no big deal. Close down credit applications, notify bureaus, and your outstanding credit facilities. This is becoming a standard procedure at the financial institutions.

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Watty
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Watty » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:02 pm

DiggleRex wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:20 am
to write something like “SSN available upon job offer.”
"On request" would be a better way to phrase that. I always put "references on request" when some form asked for references in the initial contact.

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Watty
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Watty » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm

One more thought, if pressed about this you can try to put a positive spin on not giving it on the application but saying something like you take your personal information security very seriously and if employed you would also take the company's information security seriously too. The bottom line though is not providing it my get your application rejected by some HR peon but that might be a sign that you would not want to work at that company anyway. At some point before they make a job offer some companies will want it and refusing it or being evasive about it can make it look like you are hiding something.

DiggleRex
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:14 pm

Watty wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
At some point before they make a job offer some companies will want it and refusing it or being evasive about it can make it look like you are hiding something.
Agreed, and just to clarify, I'm not looking to not give it altogether (obviously it would be necessary at some point). Just trying to see if there's a way to delay giving it (without slowing/hurting process) until necessary because a company who is not going to make me an offer simply does not need it. And a company who is going to make me an offer wouldn't need it until they've reached that point. Good suggestion about "upon request."

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by BolderBoy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:47 pm

Can you give us a hint as to what type of work you are seeking (software engineer, nanny, nurse, ???)

There may be ways to get an inside track.
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2015
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by 2015 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:30 am
In my past experience with multiple employers your application would be discarded if you didn't include the SSN. Good luck.
Never heard of such a thing. Employers (and well-trained hiring managers) spend no more than about 5 seconds scanning the meat of your resume and or application (i.e., the experience section) to screen whether your background is a match to their open position. No employer is going to "discard" an applicant with matching credentials solely because they failed to include an SSN. Truth is, there are way too many unqualified applicants out there and not enough "talent". About 80-90% of applications/resumes/backgrounds (even in interviews) fail to match desired competencies and qualifications. No employer can afford to discard an application "match" to an open position, particularly for something as ridiculous as not desiring to provide an SSN.

I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.

DiggleRex
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:07 pm

2015 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm
I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.
And did a company (if interested) ever contact you and ask you for it so they could move forward with an offer/background check?

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Nate79 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:25 pm

2015 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:30 am
In my past experience with multiple employers your application would be discarded if you didn't include the SSN. Good luck.
Never heard of such a thing. Employers (and well-trained hiring managers) spend no more than about 5 seconds scanning the meat of your resume and or application (i.e., the experience section) to screen whether your background is a match to their open position. No employer is going to "discard" an applicant with matching credentials solely because they failed to include an SSN. Truth is, there are way too many unqualified applicants out there and not enough "talent". About 80-90% of applications/resumes/backgrounds (even in interviews) fail to match desired competencies and qualifications. No employer can afford to discard an application "match" to an open position, particularly for something as ridiculous as not desiring to provide an SSN.

I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.
I'm just telling you that your application would have been discarded (i.e. thrown in the trash) for leaving information blank including SSN or writing something stupid like SSN only on demand. This is with multiple employers. This type of behavior was considered a red flag.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Laren » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:58 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:25 pm
2015 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:30 am
In my past experience with multiple employers your application would be discarded if you didn't include the SSN. Good luck.
Never heard of such a thing. Employers (and well-trained hiring managers) spend no more than about 5 seconds scanning the meat of your resume and or application (i.e., the experience section) to screen whether your background is a match to their open position. No employer is going to "discard" an applicant with matching credentials solely because they failed to include an SSN. Truth is, there are way too many unqualified applicants out there and not enough "talent". About 80-90% of applications/resumes/backgrounds (even in interviews) fail to match desired competencies and qualifications. No employer can afford to discard an application "match" to an open position, particularly for something as ridiculous as not desiring to provide an SSN.

I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.
I'm just telling you that your application would have been discarded (i.e. thrown in the trash) for leaving information blank including SSN or writing something stupid like SSN only on demand. This is with multiple employers. This type of behavior was considered a red flag.
A red flag for what exactly? Security of personal information is a big issue these days, so it wouldn't strike me as odd that someone would be reluctant to provide their SSN until it was actually necessary. A company isn't going to run a background check on every applicant, only on ones that make it a significant way through the hiring process, so for most applicants the SSN will never be needed. I know the information is obtainable in other ways, but it still makes sense not to splash it around and make it that much easier for the wrong people to get hold of it.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by oldcomputerguy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:05 pm

DiggleRex wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:29 am
Liberty1100 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:24 am
I agree. It is a sketchy practice. I hate it when they also ask for references on the initial application.
Yes, agreed. I thought the suggestion to write "SSN available upon offer" wasn't a bad idea. If they questioned me as to why, I could always keep it brief and say something like, "My info was compromised in the Equifax hack, and I prefer to not give it until necessary when we're in a later stage." Because in my mind, if we don't make it to that later stage, there's no reason for them to have it.
Whenever we hired anyone, we did thorough background checks on them. I’m not sure of this, but i’m thinking that the SSN was used to facilitate this background check.
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Nate79 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:09 pm

Laren wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:58 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:25 pm
2015 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:30 am
In my past experience with multiple employers your application would be discarded if you didn't include the SSN. Good luck.
Never heard of such a thing. Employers (and well-trained hiring managers) spend no more than about 5 seconds scanning the meat of your resume and or application (i.e., the experience section) to screen whether your background is a match to their open position. No employer is going to "discard" an applicant with matching credentials solely because they failed to include an SSN. Truth is, there are way too many unqualified applicants out there and not enough "talent". About 80-90% of applications/resumes/backgrounds (even in interviews) fail to match desired competencies and qualifications. No employer can afford to discard an application "match" to an open position, particularly for something as ridiculous as not desiring to provide an SSN.

I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.
I'm just telling you that your application would have been discarded (i.e. thrown in the trash) for leaving information blank including SSN or writing something stupid like SSN only on demand. This is with multiple employers. This type of behavior was considered a red flag.
A red flag for what exactly? Security of personal information is a big issue these days, so it wouldn't strike me as odd that someone would be reluctant to provide their SSN until it was actually necessary. A company isn't going to run a background check on every applicant, only on ones that make it a significant way through the hiring process, so for most applicants the SSN will never be needed. I know the information is obtainable in other ways, but it still makes sense not to splash it around and make it that much easier for the wrong people to get hold of it.
Again, I'm only telling what I have seen, not personally involved in the process. The red flags were any of the following:
Attitude problem as a future employee, trying to hide information, SSN actually not available, not serious about the application (not really interested in the job), inability to follow instructions, etc. When you have a stack of applicants it's very easy to disregard applications where the applicant fails to follow the instructions of the form and instead makes the reviewer put extra effort to understand why they did what they did. This is not limited to SSN but includes failure to answer any question. This wastes the time of the reviewer, especially when there may be other equally qualified applicants who can actually follow instructions.

I don't consider SSN to be that sensitive any more. It's easily available information these days.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:17 pm

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:05 pm
Whenever we hired anyone, we did thorough background checks on them. I’m not sure of this, but i’m thinking that the SSN was used to facilitate this background check.
That makes sense, and that's my understanding. I guess my view is that they don't need it until (and unless) it gets to that point, and many times it won't reach that point (i.e., one is not going to get an offer from every place they interview for). Thank you everyone for their point of view on this topic. While the opinions are varied, it's helpful to hear the different points.

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Hayden
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Hayden » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:25 pm

Info security is a big issue in my industry. A form with a SSN would need to be encrypted/password protected. There used to be a rule that forms with SSN could not be emailed, so you would submit the form with the SSN field blank, and then call the recipient and tell them the SSN over the phone.
It would not bother me in the slightest if you told me the SSN was available upon request.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:26 pm

S&L1940 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:35 am

Have you tried just giving your last four digits?
I would go with this option. It indicates that you have a SSN, but value commonsense security and are not trying to be some commie rabble-rouser.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by JW-Retired » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:32 pm

DiggleRex wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:20 am
I’m currently searching for a job. After my last interview, which was definitely the wrong company for me, I immediately regretted putting my social on the application I filled out.
If you are serious about this my thought would be to hedge your bets. Hold back your SS number for every other interview and see how many calls back you get from each group. Maybe you will get a clear idea if it does/doesn't matter for your kind of work.

Please let us know the results too.
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quantAndHold
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by quantAndHold » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:52 pm

In 2017, for a professional job where the successful candidate is expected to be informed and think for themselves, I would hold back the SSN. When they actually need it for something, (usually after the interview, when they're doing their due diligence before hiring) they'll call and ask for it.

For a job where they're just looking for someone who is capable of showing up and following directions, I'd fill out every line on the application form, including SSN.

I've never found that leaving blanks on the application has been much of a hindrance, but I'm in an industry where applications are pretty much an afterthought. I've been hired for jobs where I didn't bother to fill out the application until I showed up for my first day on the job.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Meg77 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:20 pm

I can't imagine that those looking to steal personal information are targeting former potential employee applications. How would one even go about that? I'm sure most physical applications are shredded (or discarded without being shredded worst case) within about a day of the interview process having ended. MAYBE they scan them into a computer and save them somewhere for future reference - but even then how/why would a criminal find or use that? It would have to be an internal employee, and that seems highly unlikely. Not impossible of course, but not something I'd worry about for more than about two minutes.

For the record though, leaving off the SSN might make it appear that you are not a US citizen. This could be a problem in some industries without money for Visas or who don't wish to hire an illegal immigrant.
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by 2015 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:39 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:25 pm
2015 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:30 am
In my past experience with multiple employers your application would be discarded if you didn't include the SSN. Good luck.
Never heard of such a thing. Employers (and well-trained hiring managers) spend no more than about 5 seconds scanning the meat of your resume and or application (i.e., the experience section) to screen whether your background is a match to their open position. No employer is going to "discard" an applicant with matching credentials solely because they failed to include an SSN. Truth is, there are way too many unqualified applicants out there and not enough "talent". About 80-90% of applications/resumes/backgrounds (even in interviews) fail to match desired competencies and qualifications. No employer can afford to discard an application "match" to an open position, particularly for something as ridiculous as not desiring to provide an SSN.

I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.
I'm just telling you that your application would have been discarded (i.e. thrown in the trash) for leaving information blank including SSN or writing something stupid like SSN only on demand. This is with multiple employers. This type of behavior was considered a red flag.
Nonsense.

Incomplete applications aren't so much a "red flag" as they are a means by which an applicant can be screened out. During the recruitment process, the fact that your SSN isn't on the application if paid attention to at all will only become germane if needed to do a background check. And this is only after an offer has been extended. During the screening process, if the basics are there (an SSN is not a basic), the screener is most interested in whether you are a match for the position's qualifications during the 5 seconds at most he or she will spend eyeballing your application. Remember, what to you is your precious application is to the screener one of thousands of others, most of which are deemed useless.

Remain focused on what is important, and that is that your application and resume are simply marketing tools whose sole purpose is to get you an interview.

2015
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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by 2015 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:01 pm

DiggleRex wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:07 pm
2015 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:59 pm
I always simply left the SSN area blank. When applying for anything, always ensure your background and qualifications speak for themselves while ensuring they match the position you are applying for.
And did a company (if interested) ever contact you and ask you for it so they could move forward with an offer/background check?
Without fail. During the worst possible time to be laid off (twice during the 08-10 crash), I personally perfected the art of both applying and interviewing for positions, although I must say in the process of doing so it just about killed me!

I have posted elsewhere that your resume and application should be looked upon solely as marketing tools. They are at best scanned by whoever is doing the screening and at worst ignored because your qualifications don't meet what the posted position is asking for. Your metric for the success of your marketing efforts is the number of "bites" you get on your submissions. Once you are repeatedly getting responses to your resume or application submissions, you will know you have honed your marketing materials (your resume and/or application) sufficiently enough to entice employers to contact you for an interview. The only purpose of a resume/cover letter and/or application is to get an interview. If you're getting interviews, you're on the right track. Make sure your resume/application match as closely as possible to the generic (and perhaps most coveted) qualifications required in your field and you will only have to do minimal changes to your cover letter for each submission. You will then only have to submit the same resume or generic application over and over.

What's infinitely more important than your resume, is your interviewing skills, which are actually nothing more than your sales skills. Interviewers screen you out with questions in the following areas using the acronym EFLT: (e)nvironment, meaning have you worked in a relatively similar department or company; (f)light risk, meaning have you had multiple jobs and are you at risk of leaving not too long after being hired; (l)eadership and teamwork skills, speaks for itself; and (t)echnical skills, meaning have you had the experience in the qualifications/technical areas required by the job.

Under "environment" are 3 further screening areas: (s)ize, meaning have you worked for an organization or department of a size; (i)ndustry, have you worked in the industry; and (c)ulture, meaning have you worked in a company with the same type of culture. Culture is perhaps the most important because all organizations have culture issues and when they start asking about how you've dealt with problem co-workers/teams/bosses/departments you know they are grilling you on culture, your ability to exercise self-control in dealing with the usual organizational idiots, as well as your ability to build and keep relationships with even the most difficult individuals.

Your job is to spend a lot of time practicing answers to hard questions in the areas above. You should practice enough that the answers just roll off your tongue. It helps to diagram these things and write the most effective answers down. Also, do post-mortems on every interview where you almost get the position to learn what you did right and what you did wrong.

Good luck! Best competency of all when interviewing is to never give up. The spoils always go to the one who perseveres.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by DiggleRex » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:14 pm

Thank you 2015 for your advice and insights

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by flamesabers » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:18 pm

S&L1940 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:35 am
Yet, how does a prospective employer make a job offer before checking background/references?
Doesn't an employer need to get your consent before doing a background check? I think that would be the ideal time to ask for your SSN or any other such information.
Meg77 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:20 pm
For the record though, leaving off the SSN might make it appear that you are not a US citizen. This could be a problem in some industries without money for Visas or who don't wish to hire an illegal immigrant.
By that logic if you don't want to give out your home address does that mean you might appear to be homeless? :?

There are separate questions on applications asking if you're a U.S. citizen and/or if you're legally eligible to work in the country.

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Re: SSN on job applications

Post by Pajamas » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:23 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:22 am
At the present time, I just assume everyone has my SSN whether I like it or not, so giving it out to someone such as physicians, clients, is not a big deal anymore.
+1

I used to give it to doctor's offices when it was requested. Years ago when I was in school, they used it for the student ID number and some professors would post lists of exam grades by ID/SSN rather than by name to preserve privacy! Many insurance companies used it for the ID number, many states used it for the drivers license number. I even used to have it printed on my checks.

Then all of that seemed stupid, and now it doesn't matter because it is too late.

None of the financial institutions I have accounts with or anyone else that I can think of use it for confirming identity or security, at least as far as I know. Consider it public information.

gretah
Posts: 57
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:14 pm

Re: SSN on job applications

Post by gretah » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:45 pm

I got an EIN online from IRS.gov for contract work wherein the client would send me 1099s.

I just use this EIN whenever a medical office, job application, etc, wants it.

If someone needs my SSN for a background check, I'll provide them with the real one if required and I want what they are offering.

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