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Skeletons in the Closet

Customer Service
Stressed businesswoman

Many people have skeletons in their professional closet. As a job seeker, you may have something that tends to hold you back or cause you to be declined from getting your next position. Perhaps you left a role without working out your notice and think your referee will provide negative comments, or perhaps you had a personal situation that caused you to get behind on bills, leaving you with a low credit score. Whatever your secrets are, it’s best to get them out in the open.

As a recruiter, I often see these situations. When doing verification checks on references including the referee’s job title, checking that a candidate actually worked at the company listed, previous employment date confirmations and CV checks; I do find a bit of contradiction.

With this in mind, I wanted to provide some advice to those job seeking:

  • If you had the boss from hell and they aren’t going to give you a good reference, just be up front. Rip off the band-aid and be honest about it.
  • If you left the company without seeing out your notice period… we get it, we are human and we understand choices made under stress.
  • If you got a drink driving charge, missed a few payments on a loan or left on a whim with no job to go to because your colleague drove you mad, just let us know – it’s all confidential and we don’t judge. Trust me, we have heard it all before!

What you shouldn’t do, out of desperation, is give falsified information as that is what will hinder your job search. It’s better to go into a process with all the skeletons out of the closet.

It really sucks to be declined a job because of bad credit history, criminal history, previous work mishaps and/or bad relationships, but if you are upfront at the beginning of the recruitment process, you will stand a much better chance of being trusted and given the benefit of the doubt on reflection of your honesty.

The opposite is true when, at a point in the recruitment process, we discover a surprise that reflects badly on you.

You are probably now wondering:

Have candidates really got a job that had a “bad” reference and had things to improve on – YES.

Have candidates been considered for roles when they have bad credit – in some cases, YES.
As an example, I had a candidate recently who declared that she had two defaults (which have been paid), when I explained I needed to run a credit check for Financial Services. She was completely open with me about the situation and I declared it to my client. Even though they prefer a clear credit history, due to the fact they were paid, I was able to progress with her application.

Have we declined people on issues that have come to light – YES.  We are always up front and tell you if we cannot help you find a job, because we believe in giving honest feedback and not keeping you hanging. If something does not meet the job criteria or culture fit of the company we recruit for, we will let you know. But did you learn something in the process – YES!

If you want to build meaningful relationships with recruiters and get a great job, it’s best to be honest upfront. Falsifying information on references and CVs, and not giving the “whole” picture of your personal situation, will backfire on you and affect your job search somehow when the truth comes out.

We all make life choices, some not for the best, but acting dishonestly out of desperation is never the recipe for success in a job search. This is especially true in a small market like NZ where most of the recruiters and hiring managers network together and share stories.