Submitting candidates to a background check is a routine part of many employers' hiring practices. In fact, according to one survey, "About 93 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on some applicants, while 73 percent of employers conduct checks on all applicants." And it makes perfect sense, if you look at it from the employers' perspective -- one in four people in the U.S. has a criminal record, and if the guy applying for your open teaching position was once busted for running a sweatshop thinly disguised as a day care, that's something you kind of need to know about.
"Sorry, Maddy, bathroom breaks are only for children who don't cry about 'needing' their insulin."
So what's the problem? Well, a study conducted in 2011 by the National Consumer Law Center revealed that the results of said background checks are often strewn with errors. You see, your potential employers aren't conducting that background check themselves -- and you never know who the hell might be providing that service to them. As the NCLC points out, "There are no licensing requirements for criminal background agencies. Anyone with a computer and access to records can start a business; the total number of companies is unknown."
These unregulated background screening companies are businesses, and as Merriam-Webster once said, the entire purpose of a business is to make money. And if that means cutting corners that occasionally result in some random innocent guy getting pinned with a brutal rape charge, then by God that's what a business does. We weren't even being facetious there, by the way -- that's exactly what happened to Samuel Jackson (no, not that one) when he was turned down for a job after a background check claimed that he had been convicted of rape back in 1987. When he was 4 years old.
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Shit, he's practically a grown-ass man.
Why? They got him confused with another guy with a similar name. Whoops! Our bad!
In case you needed another reason to worry that those photos you posted on Facebook from your last drunken house party (half-nude, duck lips -- you know the ones) would one day come back to haunt you, here you go: A recent survey showed that 92 percent of employers are checking out your social networking profiles during the recruitment process. And if you think you're getting around this by not providing links to your profiles, think again, because 73 percent of potential employers will track them down anyway.
Facebook: Making stalking easier every day.
What are they looking for, exactly? Well, the obvious stuff: drug use, sexual posts, drunken activity, My Little Pony cosplay. But you might be surprised to find out that the biggest sin of all is apparently spelling and grammar errors -- more employers were turned off by the public butchering of the English language than by references to alcohol. If the world needed another reason to abolish textspeak (it didn't), there you go.
But you can just fix this whole mess by not having social networking profiles in the first place, right? Nope -- if nothing comes up for you, that just makes employers think you've got something to hide.
But, but ... that's what privacy settings are for, right? Well, privacy settings don't do you much good when employers don't have any qualms about requiring applicants to provide their Facebook usernames and passwords. Luckily for your swear-ridden, booze-addled (but locked down) timeline, state governments have started stepping in with laws to prevent such practices.
"Guys, come on. Do we really need to pass a law? Can't you just stop being pricks on your own?"
Of course, this is all just a bunch of statistics mumbo jumbo -- stuff like this doesn't really happen in the real world. Tell that to the female psychiatrist who missed out on a position because she had a tendency to go topless at parties (hey, who doesn't?), or maybe the financial analyst who got blacklisted by a bigtime financial firm in Seattle thanks to his habit of posting drunken photos on Facebook (again, is that not what Facebook is specifically designed for?).
It sounds completely counterintuitive, what with so many qualified people currently out of work thanks to the utter collapse of the economy a few years ago, but for many employers, being unemployed is a gigantic red flag. That means once you've been unemployed for a certain period of time, you get stuck in a Kafkaesque trap where you can't get a job because you don't have a job.
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"Sorry, Mr. Yossarian, but we welcome you to apply again after some other dumbass takes a chance on you."
For skilled, perfectly able people -- like the 330,000 long-term unemployed in Illinois alone -- the longer they go without being able to find work, the less attractive they become to potential employers. As John Challenger, CEO of an outplacement firm in Chicago, put it:
"Hiring companies now wonder about whether or not their skills have become less current, about whether inertia has set in, how driven are you to get back to work. They worry that maybe other companies have seen something that they might be missing when they didn't hire you. Employers have some of these kinds of concerns about your candidacy that someone new into the market doesn't have to contend with."
"No other company would have him; what if he has herpes?"
To be fair, it's always been this way -- ever heard the old adage "It's easier to find a job when you have a job"? The difference being that there are now many, many more people looking for work because for years we had an economy where there were millions more unemployed people than there were vacant positions. Yet employers ranging from small businesses to fast food chains still show this bias against the jobless, to the point where New Jersey recently passed a law against prohibiting unemployed people from applying for a job, with other states and Congress considering similar ideas. Until such laws become commonplace, though, it looks like your average unemployed person has a laundry list of stereotypes to overcome in order to convince potential employers that they're not filthy bums.
So there you have it, kids: If you are currently hopelessly unemployed and desperately need a job, all you've got to do is get a fucking job. It's as easy as that.
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Why doesn't everyone do that?
For more ways companies are really screwing the pooch, check out The 7 Sneakiest Ways Corporations Manipulated Human Behavior and The 5 Most Horrifying Things Corporations Are Taking Over.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 4 Most Childish Ways Powerful People Settled Arguments.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why fat and stupid is no way to go through life.
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