Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monday Mission June 18, 2012


In the past month or so, we have reviewed:
Cover letters
                Letters of Reference

At this point, you should have AT LEAST a draft of your cover letter, references sheet, and letter of reference completed.  Ideally, you should be in the process of obtaining one or more letters of reference to present in an interview.  Bring copies of these with you to your next meeting with your counselor.

Related to Interviewing and references in particular is the subject of illegal interview questions.  Employers may ask you illegal interview questions for any number of reasons:
1.        Ignorance – they may simply not realize it is illegal to ask you if you have limitations, for example.  If you have an apparent limp, they might think they are being caring by asking if you have a physical limitation.
2.       Laziness – many small employers still use outdated forms and ask outmoded questions because they keep copying their old standby applications and interview questions. Often an interviewer might have been verbally told to skip this portion or that and simply forget to cross it off.
3.       Selfishness – employers may be hopeful that YOU will be ignorant and provide them with whatever information they are able to obtain, whether it is your age, your nationality, the fact that you have had a work related injury or your religion.
Most often, illegal questions are asked out of ignorance and you should assume the intent of the question and answer that.  It is perfectly acceptable and even recommended to respond to an illegal question by saying.  “Hmm.  I have never been asked that question – why is it you ask?”  Otherwise just answer the intent, “I am certainly able to perform the duties as you have outlined them!”

Employers will check your employment references and may even do a background check – you SHOULD NEVER LIE on an application or in an interview!  That having been said, you definitely want to present yourself in the best possible light.

If you are striving to return to work after a work related injury and you are asked your reason for leaving, your answer could be something like:
You know, it was a very physical job and I had a bad scare.  I am looking to find a job that will allow me to apply my skills and knowledge rather than put more mileage on my body OR
I had some (medical or personal, for example) issues and am ready to return to work, but my employer doesn’t have an opening for me now.

Former employers will tend to give out:
                Job Title
                Dates of employment
                And, possibly if they would rehire you

Most employers will not give any information beyond this for legal reasons.  However, you should know what your former employers are saying about you!  Ask a friend, colleague or counselor to contact your former employers to determine what they will say about you to prospective employers.

If a background check does show a workers’ compensation claim (most don’t) it will be apparent that you did not lie.  After a job offer, if the injury is pertinent you may choose to share whatever part of that experience/history with your new employer.

Your personal information is YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION.  An employer does not need to know what you eat, when you go to the bathroom or what vitamins you take.  Nor does an employer need to know that you have had a work related injury, per se.

Remember, employers are not allowed to ask certain questions in order to keep them from discriminating against an applicant who can otherwise perform the duties assigned.  There is no need for you to help them do so!

Here are some related articles:

Illegal questions and how to respond

What former employers can say about you


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