Officer candidates across the globe are discovering that the pre-employment background investigation has taken on a new twist.
For the most part, the manner in which “conditional offer of employment background investigations” are conducted have remained summarily unchanged for decades.
That is, until social media exploded.
Cyber vetting has become a standard tool used by background investigators and the fact is, when it’s your time to submit to a pre-employment background investigation, you WILL be cyber vetted.
I’ve had candidates ask me,
“Can they even do that?”
The answer is, yes and no.
A background investigator will likely ask you to sign a waiver form, allowing him or her to access your social media accounts.
You certainly can refuse and when you do, you’ve sealed your fate. There is NO WAY that agency is going to hire you.
So, you’re only logical choice is to sign the waiver and submit to the cyber exam.
How you look on paper may not be how you’ll look on the screen
The prudent candidate meticulously organizes their resume, application packet and their background packet in a manner that portrays them as a well-organized, attractive and viable candidate for employment with the agency they’ve applied, tested and interviewed with.
They leave nothing to chance, crossing every t and dotting every i.
Oddly, the same candidates that are fully confident and excited to have their papers examined by their background investigator (BI), begin to sweat with nervous anticipation when the BI sits down at their kitchen table, in their home, and asks them to fire up their computer and log into their Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any and all other social networking accounts.
There’s no feeling in the world worse than knowing your true self is about to be exposed. The best candidate on planet Earth can lose a conditional job offer in seconds if they haven’t prepared ahead of time, for the “login”.
Far too many rock solid candidates have lost their conditional offer, the direct result of a “cyber vet” gone bad.
Surviving the vet
The best thing you can do now, and I mean RIGHT now, is to log into every social media account that you’ve EVER had, and look at absolutely EVERYTHING you’ve ever posted.
As you review your account, do it through the eyes of someone that’s looking for anything and everything that they can use to discredit you.
It’s more likely than not, you’re going to delete a few posts. I’m not suggesting that every BI is out to get you, well, okay, yes I am.
Just approach your social media “clean out” with that in mind and when you’re done, all the foolish posts you’ve made in the last seven years will be history.
Through this blog post, it’s not my goal to help career idiots pass their background. If you’ve been a complete tool your entire adult life, chances are better than not that the BI is going to determine that with or without looking at your social media accounts.
My objective is to help good guys and woman from looking foolish when the BI makes their home visit.
Far too many good candidates have lost their chance at working in law enforcement by way of posting one or two foolish or silly remarks or posts a month ago, or three years ago.
What’s going to get me axed?
Let’s assume that four years ago, when you were 21, you arbitrarily commented on a post and your only comment was, “If some dude said that to me I’d kick his a–!”
Yes you were joking and no, you’d never actually physically batter someone that said something stupid to you, but guess what?
You posted a comment saying you would, and that looks bad, REALLY bad. Understand that the BI doesn’t know you and he or she has just X number of hours to size you up and to pass along a hiring recommendation to the chief or sheriff.
It’s far easier to make a positive hiring recommendation to your agency administrator if you, as the BI, perceive a candidate as a fan of gardening, cooking and water skiing than it is if a candidate posts foolish, immature and downright stupid stuff on his social media account.
There are a wide variety of comments and statements that will get you disqualified.
Boring is best
At the end of the day, just know, they’re going to size you up and social media is looked at by BI’s as a window to your soul.
It’s your job to look as boring as possible.
Nothing controversial, nothing racy, nothing terribly political and no pictures of you and your friends drinking shots at a sports bar.
Oh, and unfriend anyone and everyone that posts stupid stuff. We are judged by the company we keep, even our social media company.
BORING wins the game.
Finally, don’t wait until you’ve been given a conditional offer of employment. Clean up your social media now, before you apply.
Some agencies look at public accounts before the background begins, or at least, before YOU know the background begins.