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Answered: 7 Questions About Job Applications You Were Afraid to Ask Answered: 7 Questions About Job Applications You Were Afraid to Ask

While the hiring process should never be a black box for candidates, you might also have some questions for which the answers aren't black and white. For example:

  • When (if ever) is it a good idea to share sensitive personal information like social security or driver's license numbers with potential employers?
  • Is it appropriate to disclose your security clearance to an employer in the private sector?
  • How about the fact that you've signed a non-compete agreement with a competitor in the field?

Since it's a lot easier to land your next opportunity when you know what to expect, here are detailed answers to nine hiring-related questions you might have been afraid to ask. Just note that this guidance is primarily intended for job seekers in the U.S., and may not be applicable to candidates in other countries.

1.

"Can I Interview for Jobs If My Non-Compete Agreement Is Still in Effect?"

Non-compete agreements are legal documents designed to protect, among other things, sensitive processes, technologies, trade secrets and other information, and they usually restrict candidates from pursuing employment with a competitor in the same industry for a set period of time. Naturally, if you're approaching the end of the period covered in your non-compete agreement, it makes sense to start interviewing for new opportunities. And while you may not be required to disclose the fact that you've signed a non-compete agreement up front, you will need to do so at some point in the process, particularly if the agreement impacts when you can actually start working.

2.

"In My Cover Letter, Should I Notify a Potential Employer That I'm Differently Abled?"

This is something of a gray area—the legal framework guiding what employers can (and can't) ask during the application process doesn't extend to job seekers—so the answer is probably "it depends." For example, is being differently abled directly relevant to the job opportunity? Does it relate to the unique skills you bring to the table? If so, maybe include it. Otherwise, bear in mind that you're under no obligation to notify your potential employer.

So notification, while up to you, certainly isn't a requirement.

3.

"How Should I Tell a Potential Employer About My National Security Clearance?""

For jobs requiring a certain level of security clearance, if you have the credentials, by all means, let your potential employer know right away—both on your resume and in your cover letter.

However, if you're transitioning from the public to the private sector, it's worth noting that security clearances are only applicable for positions that fall within the purview of the federal government. So while a security clearance might convey, say, a high degree of trustworthiness or the ability to handle sensitive information, it may not be the most relevant or impactful thing about your candidacy. Keep it on the resume, for sure, but maybe focus the cover letter elsewhere.

4.

"How Can I Verify That a Job Posting Is Legitimate—and Not a Scam?"

For starters, any job posting that requires a financial commitment from you is almost certainly bogus. If you're interested in opportunities at Johnson & Johnson, for example, you'll never be charged fees or a security deposit during the recruitment process—so if anyone purports to provide recruitment services for our company for a fee or requires a security deposit, please be advised that they aren't affiliated with us in any way.

Another red flag: Job postings or Microsoft Word employment applications and labor agreements that don't link to our careers website are likely fraudulent. Bear in mind, you can always find all of the available employment opportunities at Johnson & Johnson on our official careers website.

5.

"When Employers Ask You to Provide References, Do They Really Contact Them?"

You should assume that they do—it's the simplest, safest and therefore smartest path. Why? Because this really isn't a part of the hiring process that you should be worried about. References are for gathering background information about candidates, and rarely is that information dispositive—it's not what determines outcomes.

By comparison, what you have to say during the interview process, and how you present your candidacy in your own words, will carry a lot of weight.

6.

"Am I Expected to Include a Professional Headshot or Photo Along With My Resume?"

While this is a fairly common practice in some countries, in the U.S. the answer is "no."

7.

"Should I Share My Social Security Number With a Potential Employer?"

Probably not—at least not right away, and not without knowing what it's going to be used for.

For example, this shouldn't be required at the opening stage of the application process. Nor should you be asked to share it through the mail or over email. More generally, too, if you have any concern or doubts about the legitimacy of an organization, it's best to proceed with caution.

That said, you should be aware that it is legal for potential employers to request the social security numbers of job applicants, which are typically used for background or credit checks. If that's the case, and provided you've done enough due diligence on the potential employer, it's probably fine to share your social security number.


What to Expect From the Hiring Process at Johnson & Johnson

Fairness. Transparency. A deeply felt commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Timely guidance. Constant connection. And that's just for starters.

Ready to see what our best-in-class hiring process looks like in action?

If so, you should check out all of the open positions at Johnson & Johnson today, and be sure to join our global talent community, too. The latter is an easy way to stay in touch, learn more about life and culture at Johnson & Johnson and even get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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