Man on trapeze
Between the Trapezes Is a Background Check Getting in Your Way?
June 2007


Welcome to Between the Trapezes! Often the changes in our lives feel precarious as we are suspended between two certainties. But the frightening moment passes as we bravely go on to the next step -- as we always do.

Enjoy reading, and feel free to forward this e-zine on to anyone, wherever they are job searching! And if you received this e-mail in error, our apologies -- just unsubscribe using the easy link at the bottom of this page.


  • Interviewing With the President
  • Tell Me About Yourself
  • Is A Background Check Getting in Your Way?

  • Interviewing With the President

    The president of a company, that is...

    You've had a few interviews at Super Startup, Inc., and now they want you to meet with the company president, John Jones. Why? For one, they like you and may be involving him/her because they don't want to be the final arbiter in making the decision. Two, they like you and it could just be their policy to involve him. Three, they like you as a prospective co-worker and want his corroboration because they trust his judgment.

    See the thread: they like you as a potential co-worker who can do the job and who will be nice to have around. So you have the team endorsement as you head in to see John Jones.

    So should you treat this interview any differently? Not really: the "presidential" interview is no different in that you have to tell your problem-action-result stories to illustrate why they need YOU. Your strengths, for example, include solving problems and making people happy and you have the stories to prove it.

    But where it IS different is that company presidents look at the company as a whole. And they value their teams. So mention what impresses you about the company and the people and their mission. Those are the things he/she will want to know over and above your strengths and successes.

    So relish the fact you have an interview with the top person in the company. If the #1 person there says "That's the person for the job", you're in!

    Tell Me About Yourself

    "Tell me about yourself" is often the first thing an interviewer says to you. Whether face-to-face or on the phone, this is a question that candidates usually hate to hear. Why? Because it's such a broad question. Where do you start answering it and what do you say?

    The person saying "Tell us about yourself" doesn't want to know where you were born or how many kids you have. They want to hear you talk and see how you formulate your thoughts. And they want to hear how you present yourself, especially in relation to the open job.

    Your answer? It's not in a book. It should be customized to the job AND to you. And you can prepare for it beforehand so that it feels and sounds as real as you are. First, what are the 5-8 things that are MOST important to them in this job? Then, What are three "success factors" you have that relate to those? Success factors are those aspects of you that make you successful.

    That means you won't launch into "I have 18 years of high tech experience and I'm seeking a company that will let me grow". That kind of answer says nothing real about you.

    Instead, try: "When I look at what you have defined as important for this position, I see several points of connection. Three of them are: my technical expertise, my skills in project management, and my people skills. Which of those would you like me to start with?"

    This kind of response engages the questioner. And it narrows the question in the way YOU want.

    Give this approach a try and you'll quickly begin welcoming the question "Tell me about yourself", and you'll be making it work for you.

    Is A Background Check Getting in Your Way?
    Question mark

    For 18 years, Jan Maxwell was a professional pre-employment screener who did over 100,000 background checks. She saw too many legitimate job applicants get rejected because something in their background could not be verified. So she wrote a book about how to successfully deal with background checks, called A Job Hunter's Secret Weapon: How to Survive A Background Check and Get the Job You Really Want. Here are a few of her points.

    Did you know that 80% of companies now use background checks in the hiring process? The higher up the organization you are, the more likely you'll get checked. What is checked: The answers on your job application, which sooner or later, everyone must complete when they are hired. The items covered in most background checks include your education, employment history, credit history, drug testing, criminal record, and driver's license history.

    It turns out that when a piece of information cannot be verified -- such as a company validating your employment dates -- the checker lists this as a "discrepancy". A few of those on your report is enough for a prospective employer to choose the other candidate whose information is complete and verified.

    Or perhaps a reference is forbidden by her company's policies to talk to a checker. If that's the case, you'll need to replace that reference's name and contact information with someone who can talk about you, so that your file will be complete.

    These and many other points will be covered in an hour-long talk by Joanne Meehl at the Face2Face job search networking group on July 18th, in Boxborough, Mass. Directions and detailed program info is at Attend and you will learn how you can do a test run so that your background check doesn't become a factor in your search. You'll be glad you did.

    Thought of the Day
    Joanne's pic

    Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

    Harriet Beecher Stowe


    We are proud members of:

    • Association of Career Professionals Int'l
    • Northeast Human Resources Association
    • Career Masters Institute
    • Career Counselors Consortium/Boston
    • National Resume Writers Association
    • BNI Golden Givers, Holden, Mass.

    Called "The Resume Queen" years ago by a career counselor colleague, Joanne Meehl decided to have fun with the nickname (which we've officially trademarked). But she also takes it seriously by keeping her career management skills on the leading edge, through research and ongoing dialog with hiring managers.
    You're now seeing us use "The Job Search Queen", which better reflects the breadth of our services. The trademark is pending. We'll be using both "queen" nicknames in our materials.


    Next few meetings of Face2Face, the Job Search Networking Group:

    July 18th (No meeting on Wednesday, July 4th): Are Background Checks Getting In Your Way?

    August 1st, and August 15th - topics to be announced
    All meetings are 9am - noon, in Boxboro, Mass. near the intersection of Routes 495 and 2.
    For details about the programs, and directions, click here. Also on that page, you'll be able to see notes about previous talks at Face2Face.

    At Face2Face meetings, we make it easier for you to network, no matter how shy you are. Come meet new people who might be the link to your next job!

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