By: Frank J Giudice, Adjunct

There are always obstacles on the path to a new job. Writing a cover letter that stands out is one. Next, the resume that features skills and accomplishments instead of duties and responsibilities needs to be crafted. Then comes the research part of our trip, finding those companies we want to work for, contacting our network to find out about industries and potential careers and sending our information to the right person. The waiting by the phone for the interview call is usually a fun time. But still and all, we successfully navigate these potholes and on a bright, sunny morning, we how up to meet with our perspective place of employment. We have practiced answering the interview questions we anticipate, and then WHAM, the receptionist hands us an application and tells us to fill it out completely.

Now, the real adventure begins. And career dreams and opportunities begin to fade. Here are a few helpful hints to remember before the sun does down on our dream job.

Resumes Are Different From Applications:

You control the content of a resume. It’s your employment story and you can tell it anyway you want. The application is a different story, as it is asking for specific information. Here is where you write the addresses, phone numbers and supervisors of past employers. Here is where you write the duties and responsibilities of your past jobs go. Here is where you have to be accurate and honest. Since this is the information that can be verified during a background check.

Read The Questions Carefully

Are they asking for an employment history or work experience? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Do you have a valid driver’s license?

There are examples of questions that cause us the most difficulty. We have an employment gap of 7 months, how does it get filled? Well, if they are asking for Work Experience, volunteering can fill the gap honestly. After all, it is work; you used your skills or developed new ones. But for Employment History, if you didn’t draw a paycheck, it doesn’t count.

If you have a criminal background, know all the charges and the disposition of each. Accused is different from arrested, which is different from convicted. And some companies will tell you not to include traffic arrests. Make sure you read the question carefully and only answer the question. You can put, “Will discuss in detail during the interview”, but make sure you know what you’re going to say. (Do not shift blame, it is what it is, take responsibility and move on.)

The Driver’s License answer is a simple one. If it is suspended or revoked, it’s not valid. Period, end of discussion. (But make sure you have a plan in place to get it back!)

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Be truthful with dates of employment, job titles, why you left your previous places of employment, gaps, certificates held and degrees earned. Ever since 9-11, companies have gotten more and more security conscious and spend time doing background checks, including credit histories (to check up on your ideas about personal responsibility and cash handling abilities). They WILL look into your past. They will do a google search to see if anything comes up about you. They will check out your schools, asking for certified copies of certificates, transcripts, and degrees. If you received a degree from Fly By Night College, know it’s as worthless as a $3 bill.

Listing Relatives As References

It says right about the table, do not list relatives. But we do it anyway and lie about the relationship we have. We’ll use in-laws, cousins, or our sister (provided she uses her married name), because, hey, they’ll say nice things about us. And we think we’re slick; until the person conducting the reference check asks how they know up. Then the cat’s out of the bag and everything we said is open for examination. Plus, our personal integrity and/or comprehension is questioned because we did what we were told not to do.