I’m back in the job market, again. It seems like this time, it’s a bit rockier all around. In a lot of ways the system is worse than I have ever seen it. One big problem is information and how it’s interlinked. The more there is, the more people seem to want. For instance, I’ve had contracting agencies ask for my previous salary information, then getting into fight with me when I don’t give it to them over the phone. Seriously, I’m going to give confidential information over the phone to somebody who’s anonymous and could be anybody. I can just see one of those scam artist PSA’s now. That’s why I started asking myself, why do they need that information?
I have to fill out another job application. And as usual, I wondered about that. I’ve filled out dozens of the things and as far as I can tell most of them just go into a file drawer, never to be seen again. Now I can understand a paper application for a job in Home Depot or another retail situation where a resume may not be expected, but for the jobs I’m applying for it’s sort of redundant and more than a little silly. Look, a company may be betting millions of dollars and maybe the company on my integrity. You either trust me to do my job, or I shouldn’t be sitting in the seat. Yet still I have to fill out that stupid piece of paper and submit to a background check anal exam. Which seems to me to be mostly crap.
Yet they need a stupid piece of paper that says I worked X at Y. Especially when not one of the applications I’ve ever filled out has been anything other than an exercise in trying to fit too much information into too little space. There’s probably a special demon who constructs the forms. Yet in 90% of the cases the applications are clipped onto the resumes, put in a folder “Applications 20xx” and never looked at again. Yet companies still insist they have them. Even the smallest companies. Now in the days of walk ins I can understand that. You want to keep a pile of applicants even If you aren’t going to hire them right away. But now?
I did a Google search and the results were interesting. One, there doesn’t seem to be a government requirement for applications. There are for the “voluntary” EEOC, but not for the application or a background check. So that excuse is gone. Looking at the Wiki, some things were explained. Companies want that information because it makes them more comfortable. It doesn’t change anything, but it seems once a habit gets started it becomes a rule. And some companies seem to think that the worse they make the hiring process the better the employees they have.
Let’s consider how most applications get filled out. In most cases the application is handed to the applicant on a clipboard in the lobby, in my experience. A lobby that will have a couple of low level chairs, no table to write on, and no way to easily write. The blocks in the application will be small and items like addresses, email addresses and phone numbers don’t fit inside spaces allotted. This is most frequently the case with the phone number and email. Then you are expected to remember every detail of your life and put it down in handwriting with exact dates of hire and leaving the companies in a small block in tiny writing. Unless you carry around your entire history, how are you supposed to remember all that stuff? And finally you have to sign under the scary boiler plate about how this is a legal document and any mistake can be used against you.
Typical bureaucratic thinking. Get a piece of paper and you are in control. Get as much information as you can. Get background checks and hire a private eye. Get the applicants social media account. The same people that complain that they get too many resumes to evaluate want every detail of your life. Really?
There doesn’t seem to be any real legal limitations on what companies can ask for. There are real reasons why you should not give everybody who asks for access to your information that access. Look, nobody has a perfect life. There’s always that little stuff, the forgotten bill, the unpaid tax from a town we move out of, the random speeding ticket from out of state. Do we really want to give perfect strangers the right to anally examine our lives just because they want the information? Just because they want your information doesn’t mean that they should have it.
Then there issue of what happens if the information is wrong. I purchased a car about fifteen years and somebody apparently bought a house using my social security number, which screwed up the loan application to no end. And I needed that car. What if the person doing the report gets the wrong you. I did a check on myself and was surprised how many me’s there were in my state. Which is a small state with seven million people or so. The listing for the correct me had my middle initial wrong and an address that I hadn’t lived at for over ten years. I’m not sure how to get that corrected. That was just an online background check where I didn’t even pay for the full report. I’m not the only one to have encountered issues like this. There’s too much fraud and mistakes going on.
Then there’s good old fashioned identity theft. I would rather not be a Rush Limbaugh Lifelock horror story, thank you very much. I’m vulnerable to this sort of thing because I prefer to live on a cash basis and am not considering my credit constantly. Frankly, if I can live strictly cash, I’m better off as far as I’m concerned and I can avoid the real crashes
Most People cringe a little bit when the line “your papers please” shows up in a TV show or movie. We know that that represents tyranny. Yet we expect that like good little proles we are going to lay all our personal information out to bureaucracy there are very good reasons not to trust on the slim chance that the company is going to provide us with a job. I couldn’t find a single linked article or blog post where anybody seems to question the fact that the potential employer is entitled to that information or the fact that, once they have it, they can do anything with it that they want.
Ten or fifteen years ago, that didn’t matter. Now it might. Look, ten or fifteen years ago the potential avenues for malfeasance and profiting from information was pretty small. Now it’s different. Once data exists, it will be mined and seen as a profit opportunity. This is the day when companies are mining data in every way possible and using it to evaluate people. Companies are doing this because they don’t trust people. Well maybe it’s time that we applicants admit to ourselves that we should not trust them either. After all It’s demonstrated everyday that people in corporations are untrustworthy in all sorts of ways. Consider how Comcast treats CUSTOMERS that want to drop their service.
I realize that the company has a lot of leverage when you are job seeking. Still there comes a time when you have to say no to everything they ask for. There’s no way they should have access to you accounts and credit unless it’s required by law. You should ask for and vet the report if they want a background check and the background check should come after the offer, not before. The company should give you the reporting agency that they are using for the background check and DO NOT let them waive liability for mistakes. They should NEVER be given passwords for ANYTHING in your personal social or webpages. That is your property and your privacy and if they demand such access, go away. Doing a good job requires mutual trust and if they are insisting on this sort of stuff, how can you trust them. You know they don’t trust you.