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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2006

Accurate personal information keeps potential employers in the running and employees in good graces

All of my students have their Social Security number memorized, the high school teacher told me. I was in a class of high school seniors ready to give a lesson on how to fill out an application, and planning to tell his students to carry their Social Security card and copy it direct to a company application rather than memorizing it.

Is it a bad idea to memorize a Social Security number? Not really. However there are times when it is best not to rely on one s memory.

Completing a company application is one of those times. Your company application becomes your official record upon your hiring. The employer will use the number on your application for its payroll and benefit documents. An incorrect Social Security number can cause future problems with collecting unemployment compensation, Social Security, your health insurance and your records with the Internal Revenue Service. Correcting these errors take more time than it does to take out your Social Security card and copy it to the application.

Discovering a wrong Social Security number never happens at a good time and can be a rather traumatic experience. When they apply for unemployment compensation, a recently unemployed person does not want to hear, We have no record of any wages under that number.

Normally a person who had memorized a Social Security Number will not mess up the whole thing but will reverse two numbers. One number wrong, however, is as bad as having all nine wrong.

Memorizers can get all numbers wrong too. Sometimes adults memorize not only their own Social Security number, but those of family members also. Applicants have been known to record their spouse s number instead of their own.

Lankard s rule for Social Security numbers: Memorize if you want, but copy it direct when completing a company application. One also could copy the number onto the data that they take to the employers.

Where Do I Live?

Employment applications include more than one question regarding an address: permanent, previous and temporary. Students who list only their permanent address and phone rather than including their temporary (school) address and phone number make in unlikely an employer in the college community will call them for a job.

Job seekers should not repeat their address in each question if it is the same. Write the word same, but do not leave it blank. A job seeker should list a previous address if he or she has moved in the past two years. This is particularly important if your personal references live in the area of your previous address.

An address alone may not provide sufficient information about your home. Many people are unfamiliar with the new 911 addresses in rural areas. If Horse Thief Road is a new address, it s a good idea to give some point of reference, such as near baseball field on Route 123.

Persons with post office boxes also may want to explain where they live. Some employers give preference to hiring local residents. This practice is legal unless this preference discriminates against residents of certain communities.

Lankard s rule for addresses: Be sure the information you give makes it easy for the employer to reach you.

Don t Ask Me!

When I speak to a group of inexperienced job seekers I am frequently asked about illegal questions showing up on an application. It has been a long time since I have seen an application with an illegal question. Large companies know better and smaller companies will buy a pad of applications from an office supply store, which also reflect the law.

Some job seekers seem determined to make a fuss if that happens. I recommend answering according to the employer s intent rather than the letter of the law. List any handicaps would be an illegal question under current law. Instead of objecting the applicant should write able to perform required job duties, and follow up on the question at a later time.

Some job seekers misread a question and assume it is illegal. Asking a job seeker to list any convictions is legal. But many think the applications are asking about arrests or minor issues such as traffic violations. Reading the application carefully can solve this problem.

Bob Lankard Bob Lankard, a business columnist for the Indiana Gazette and former program manager at the state Job Center in Indiana, Penn., offers common sense advice and innovative tactics to help all levels of job seekers satisfy their employment ambitions.

Copyright CTW Features

By Bob Lankard

CTW Features



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