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I basically have the job in my pocket. They've started the hiring process already... and it's just my background check they still have to do. I'm not too worried.

I was honest (though I did only list relevant work experience, and not everything I've ever worked at for a day or two) with all my employments, education, et cetera, but I am worried I might have gotten some employment dates wrong. Most of those are 5-10 years old, that's why I thought it wouldn't matter anyway. Yes, my fault, but it's stressing me out. I want this job, and they are excited about hiring me, but I'm worried this will cause a hiccup of some kind. How valid is my anxiety?

Thanks!

  • Don't sweat it. If they run that deep of a background check and come back to talk to you about mismatches you can simply tell them what you've told us: it was a long time ago, and you made an honest mistake. No biggie. – AndreiROM Aug 2 '16 at 15:23
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Heck, I've been working for thirty-five years, much of it on contracts, some of which contracts were in parallel with one another. Do I remember the dates exactly? No!

Pragmatically speaking, a "background check" is going to look for things such as (especially) any criminal offenses or time spent in jail. If you are going to be handling money, they might look at your credit history to judge if you can handle your own money. It takes a lot more effort (money ...) to verify a list of employment dates, and such findings are not particularly useful anyway. What they really want to look for is outright lies, e.g. to cover time actually spent in the hoosegow.

"Background checks" are an ordinary and reasonable part of the pre-employment process, and may indeed be required by law. When I did a short IT project for the State of Tennessee, I had to be fingerprinted. (It was then that I discovered that a nearby office supply store had the necessary equipment to do it, and did it routinely.)

  • Thank you! I'm so worried, geez. I just wish it's all over and I can start working already. They promised I'd get the contract within 7 days (so this week, I suppose) and as soon as that's done... I'll be so relieved. Until of course the stress of living up to their 'high expectations' of me starts. Ha... ha... hahah... /runs away crying with anxiety/. – Cfdt Aug 2 '16 at 14:39
  • If you feel nervous ... if you feel "those butterflies" ... that's probably a very good sign. Bon voyage! – Mike Robinson Aug 2 '16 at 14:46
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The only time I've ever heard of incorrect dates being an issue involved a trouble making employee that HR was fishing for an excuse to fire immediately without having to going through the song and dance of a performance improvement plan first.

And in that case his having lied about dates to cover a multi-month employment gap was almost certainly secondary to the fact that he didn't resign from Company A because he had an offer from Company B but that Company A got rid of him. (This was years ago and heard second hand, so I'm not sure if it was a case of being fired or given the opportunity to resign in lieu of being fired.)

The didn't look when hiring him, or during the year or two between then and when he came to HRs attention as a being a problem.


In the future, I'd suggest:

  • Checking old bank statements if you have them. Your first/last paychecks will generally let you date a job to within a few weeks.
  • Leaving off the exact dates when possible (eg on your resume). If you only list the year, you're a lot less likely to mis-remember enough to cause a discrepancy.
  • When you have to enter more precise dates (eg an electronic application that won't let you leave the fields blank), note that your dates are approximate somewhere on the form. If you don't have any free-form fields to enter additional information, you can slip it in by appending it to something like the company name itself. ex:
         Company Name:  Initrode Software (dates approximate)
         Start Date:    January 15, 2003
         End Date:      August 30, 2007
  • Thank you. I don't have any bank statements whatsoever (I used to have a different bank account in a different country), and at one job I was paid in cash, and then there's another, also paid in cash. I was very young at the time (14) and it's about 11 years since. :) – Cfdt Aug 3 '16 at 7:19
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Your anxiety is completely valid. It's not a big deal as long as you get in contact with them right away and express your concern. It's an honest mistake, and if you get in contact with them they'll see that you're honest and good at communication. Also you'll be relieved.

Like you said, it's in your pocket. Just be yourself and express whatever concern you have and everything should work out.

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