Career Advice by Career Experts J.T. O’Donnell & Dale Dauten : CAREEREALISM


‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at

Dear J.T. & Dale: Why are some companies requesting a job applicant’s Social Security number, date of birth and driver’s license number (and, in some cases, copies of these)? This is happening upon completing an application for potential employment, before an interview has been scheduled, much less an offer extended. — Jean

J.T.: You’re right to have an alarm go off in your head. There are a number of online scams taking advantage of job seekers. If you really like the job possibility, I would suggest tracking down the company’s phone number and calling it directly. If it is a legit company, you should be able to get straight answers as to why they think they need all that info.

Dale: Although context does matter — if you’re submitting the application in person, then the request is not so alarming. After all, some companies use that information to do a background check.

J.T.: It’s true that some companies do background checks even before they do interviews, not wanting to spend time on candidates who won’t meet their requirements. Even so, they would not need all that information. Such applications are very suspect. Indeed, if you’ve already given this information out as part of an online application, I suggest you use one of the credit-checking services to make sure your information hasn’t been misused.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm,, and of the blog, Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with

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