February 17, 2011

Employment Prescreening – Drug, Credit, DMV and Web Space Problems

Employment pre-screening could unexpectedly eliminate you from the running for job opportunities. It is a problem that you do not want to encounter- In the midst of your college days, it is hard to think about the consequences of your recreational activities. After all, most people in college are young, on their own, and answering to no one. For most college students, there is no one depending on you. But at a certain point, everyone has to grow up and stop engaging in high-risk behaviors. Breaking a leg snow boarding, getting arrested for drunk driving, going bankrupt for spending indiscretions, or being rejected from a job after testing positive on a drug test are sobering and maturing experiences.

Companies are definitely hiring, and for some students, job offers will be coming in fast and furiously. That’s a good thing, but there can be some obstacles that need to be removed. Now is the time to clean up any problems in your background. There is hardly an issue that I have not seen that cannot be cleaned up. There is hardly a mess bigger than failing to clean something up thinking that no one will ever know. Companies will find any and all things you have to hide.

Companies are testing for drug use and they are using increasingly sophisticated methods to detect not only your drug use, but also your exposure to drugs at parties you may have attended where drugs were being used. You should expect to have your urine, your blood and even your hair tested. Even if you are not using marijuana yourself, your hair can retain the drug if you are present where it was being smoked. (Companies are also checking credit and criminal records).

Here is how it will happen. You think it will be weeks before you are hired. You meet with a company at a job fair, there is a positive connection and you go for an interview. You interview well, and you are given an offer on the spot or in a day or two. All of a sudden, you are in a dilemma. As soon as you accept the offer, you will be required to go for a drug test, your credit history will be reviewed, your DMV records will be screened and all of your website, social networks, and blog spaces will be invaded! You were at a party and you smoked marijuana last weekend, and Bam! It strikes you. You will not be able to pass the drug test.

A positive drug test is definitely a deal breaker. No one will hire you after you test positive. The risks are just too high. After you are employed, you can be fired for drug use. No company wants to incur the costs of having a drug user on board and many test their employees randomly. It is not just about your performance at work. They are also concerned about the cost of your health care if you are going to endanger yourself.

Drug tests are not your only problem. One alum reported that he had had a job offer withdrawn for a DUI he had failed to clean up with the driver training course he thought he didn’t have time to take. That same student had a credit problem for failing to payoff a credit card three years earlier. I also had a student who was interrogated by Hewlett Packard for his edgy comments on his senior project blog. After a full day of fabulous interviewing the promising job prospects were dashed by the closing interview where his blog was reviewed in detail.

What should you do right now? Grow up! Stop taking drugs immediately! (Marijuana stays in your system for months- think hair strands). Stop hanging around people who do! (You are exposed by their use). If you drink, do so in moderation, and under no circumstances should you drive, even if you have had only a little alcohol. If you have credit problems, clean them up now! Sanitize your Internet presence immediately! If you don’t know how to fix your Internet image find a geek to help you!

If you do have an immediate situation that is going to give you heartache, come to my office immediately and we will talk about the best course of action. There are things you can do before you accept the offer. Once you have accepted the offer, things move too fast to do anything.