A friend of mine is currently looking to make a career change and has been completing on-line applications for various employers. The other night she called while completing an application for an employer and she could not complete the application until she input her social security number, birth date and driver’s license number. This happened with two employers that have over 5,000 employees and a formal HR organization. Yikes! I am embarrassed for their CEO and the HR VP. Ironically, the job board where the jobs were posted, advises candidates to NEVER give your social security number or birth date on an application. That is the correct advice and their request was completely inappropriate, unnecessary and deviated from the most basic of HR practices.
Why is this important to you as an employer? There are a couple of reasons: 1) Many qualified candidates don’t feel comfortable providing this information and you will not get ALL of the best candidates. 2) You could be accused of age discrimination in your recruitment process and 3) You could be responsible for information security breach associated with an identity theft. Each of these items has significant business impact; TIME, MONEY AND REPUTATION.
You may require that information to process a background verification, but you don’t need it during the first stages of the recruitment process or on the application. First, determine that an applicant is a viable candidate and then invite them to continue in the recruiting process. This requires providing additional information on a separate document which you require for a background verification. Be specific why you are asking for each bit of information. In other words, don’t ask for a driver’s license unless the job requires driving. You usually need a social security number and birthday to validate a candidate’s identity, their legal right to work in the US, and search criminal records.
As for my friend, she felt that the security of her information was more important than applying for a job with an employer who clearly didn’t understand HR basics. Trust me, those two companies missed out on one heck of a candidate!