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TIP TUESDAY: What Do Employers Really Need to Know About Job Applicants?

Employers invest significant time, energy, and resources in bringing a new employee onboard.  Recruiting, screening, and interviewing processes are all done with the goal of hiring an employee who will do a job well and work well within an organization.  So what do employers need to know to hire successfully?  And what are the things employers don’t need to know?

Need to Know:

Experience.  Does the applicant have relevant work experience (or other experience)?

Education.  Will the applicant’s education help him or her do the job?

Personality.  Does the applicant have the motivation, energy, and attitude that’s needed for the job?  For the organization?  Note—employers shouldn’t always look for an applicant who will “fit in.”  Sometimes the right person for the job is someone who will shake things up, bring a new perspective, or reenergize a team or department.

Not So Much:

Credit score. It’s apparent from recent legislation on state and local levels that employers don’t need to know whether an applicant has a good credit score—at least for most jobs.  The District of Columbia is the jurisdiction that most recently enacted a law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their credit history.  It joins 11 states that have similar laws. Generally, the laws allow employers to inquire about an applicant’s credit history if the job involves unsupervised access to large sums of money or to customers’ financial information.

Pay history. A new state law in Massachusetts and a new ordinance in Philadelphia prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s pay history; similar legislation is pending in other states and municipalities, including New York City, where a bill approved by the city council awaits the mayor’s signature. Basing an employee’s pay on pay history instead of the market value of the position can be a disadvantage to workers who entered the workforce at a lower pay rate; and it can perpetuate gender-based pay disparities.

Not Right Away:

Criminal history. Several states and numerous cities and counties have enacted “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application. Many require employers to delay these questions until after an applicant has been offered a job.

Not At All!

Protected characteristics. It’s a rare job that requires a job applicant to be of a certain age, race, color, religion, national origin, or sex (think female actor for a female role). If employers ask for information, it’s because they want the information. And if they want the information, it’s because they’re going to use the information.  At least, that’s what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “generally presumes” about an employer’s questions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking questions that are likely to elicit information about a disability before a conditional job offer has been extended.  Employers should avoid questions about an applicant’s history of using sick leave, history of hospitalizations, workers’ comp claims, etc.  Questions should be limited to whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

To get the information it needs while avoiding information that’s irrelevant (and possibly unlawful), an employer should focus on the qualifications for the job in question and make inquiries that will help it evaluate how the applicant’s skills and experience align with those qualifications.

TIP TUESDAY: 15 Words to Remove from Your Linkedin Profile

by Melinda Lathrop

linkedin logoLinkedIn is one of the most important social media sites for marketers, so making a mistake on this network can be costly. Whether you’re looking for a job or trying to widen your circle of connections for potential clients, your profile on LinkedIn is a crucial component to your personal brand.

When crafting your profile, the biggest mistake that professionals make is having a generic summary. With over 414 million members on LinkedIn, how are employers and potential customers going to remember who you are if your profile echoes that of every other industry professional? Filling your summary with buzzwords will drive prospects away.

Here are 15 overused words that will make your profile fade into the background:

  • Leadership
  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Enthusiastic
  • Responsible
  • Passionate
  • Strategic
  • Successful
  • Driven
  • Organization
  • Dedicated
  • Extensive experience
  • Patient
  • Innovative
  • Analytical

How can you clean up your profile and remove all these buzzwords?

1. Show; don’t tell. Your professional summary is the first thing prospects see after your profile picture. Maybe you know that you exert leadership qualities, but too many of these overused words in your summary are going to make it hard for you to seem superior to your competitor. Rather, use concrete examples of how you’ve exhibited these traits.

2. Start featuring your work. Don’t just say you’re creative; prove it. Each profile section enables you to upload media. Whether you offer a photo, a link or even a video, prove to your prospects that you truly are creative. The same advice goes for all the listed buzzwords. Prove your leadership skills by showing a photo of yourself at a speaking event or helping a co-worker. These skills can be showcased in many different ways, but you must show your readers rather than expecting them to believe it based on a few words.

3. Share relevant information, and communicate clearly. You might have the best communication skills in your office and influence others with your views and skills. Still, how will a prospect know that unless you offer specific examples? Continually publishing posts and offering your opinion in industry-related groups conveys your expertise. Participate in LinkedIn groups to highlight your acumen.

4. Connect with industry professionals. Showcasing your motivation is obvious if you are interacting with others in your industry. Sharing your opinion on news or commentaries shows your prospects that you care about your profile, your industry and how you are perceived.

5. Try using a simple synonym. In some instances, using an uncommon synonym can help you stand out from the crowd. For example, for motivated try using ambitious, determined, compelled, or for responsible use conscientious, accountable or reliable. Instead of falling back on empty terminology, cut the buzzwords from your LinkedIn profile and add great work examples instead.

Do you have any other buzzwords that you hate seeing on LinkedIn profiles?

 A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

TIP TUESDAY: Table Talk

Here’s a Tuesday Tip on making a good impression at your first interview. Such actions may seem insignificant on the surface, but remember – it’s the little things that will help YOU stand out when your competing with others who have similar job/experience qualifications.

After you shake hands with your interviewer(s), stand behind a chair until you are invited to sit down, or politely ask where the interviewer would like you to sit.   When you take your seat at an interview table, do not place personal items on the table–no cell phones, Blackberrys, handbags, briefcases, water bottles or coffee cups.  All of these things should be placed under your chair or on a chair beside you. You may place a portfolio or notepad and pen in front of you. If a beverage is offered, decline politely. Remember to sit up straight with both feet planted on the floor.

Put Your Best Face Forward!

makeupTIP TUESDAY

If you’re pounding the pavement in search of a better — or even your first — job, it’s only a matter of time before you’re called in for an interview. And believe it or not, your beauty look has a lot to do with whether or not you land your dream position. Read more here: http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/Makeup-Tips-Job-Interview-1083269