Punk Rock HR Question: SSN and Job Applications


From DK.

She wants to work in Human Resources.

Goodness. Haven’t we learned anything around here?

I’ve got a question for you. I’ve been filling out some job applications for HR positions. As you know, social security is always required. Especially with online applications that won’t let you move on before you enter the information. I have no problem giving it to them once I’ve got the job, but handing it over to everybody who’s looking without any guarantees? In this day and age of identity theft, it seems pretty risky. Who knows what an irritated employee could do with the information. Sure, you should trust your employers but I’m too much of a cynic for that.

Now, what I want to know is does this affect my chances of getting a job? Are the HR reps going to assume I’m not following instructions or trying to hide something? Normally on a written application I’d write down my reason, but with a computer it just knows whether or not you’ve entered the correct amount of numbers.

Thanks so much!

I love it when basic HR questions come across my inbox. DK is really asking. “Will I be fvcked if I don’t put my SSN down on an application?”

You aren’t obligated to put your SSN on an application. They can ask. You can decline. If you encounter an online applicant tracking system that asks for your SSN and won’t let you proceed without entering a number, you can make one up and amend it later. No one is looking. No one cares. Not at the applicant stage, anyway.

The root of the question — a fear that UR DOIN IT WRONG — is very common in the career marketplace. No one wants to be eliminated from an employment opportunity just because they didn’t follow directions or pissed off the recruiter. I get that. Honestly, though, paranoia is rampant right now and I can’t think of anybody who can prove, without a doubt, that they were overlooked for a job because of some minor procedural error. (Okay, here come the anecdotes.)

So let me summarize: HR is not looking for a way to GETCHA and kick you out of the applicant pool over something minor and stupid. There are times when you, as a candidate, might say no to important process-related methodologies and it could impact your opportunity for employment. In those situations, you have to ask yourself if you’re principled or desperate for a job. Why did you say no in the first place? Didn’t you have good reasons?

HR is not out to GETCHA over stupid shit. Good HR professionals and recruiters are too busy trying to keep their own jobs and do some great work in an otherwise bleak economic environment.

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