By L.C. Stanley

The idea is to make it easier for an employer to hire you by having some of the basic requirements to increase your chances of getting an interview.

Basic requirements can include:

(a) knowing what age you are required to have your own Social Security Number (SSN)/Social Insurance Number (SIN)

(b) knowing at what age you can apply for a drivers license

(c) Knowing what a driver’s abstract shows

(d) Knowing what a security check does and why it is important

(e) Knowing what is the legal working age

(f) Knowing what forms of identification you should have to support your application

In this article a few of the requirements are more fully explained to show that these requirements may not be as straightforward as one would think.

These basic requirements are rarely addressed as often it is assumed that everyone is aware of these requirements.

When teaching young students about career requirements they are often reminded that having a SSN in the US or a SIN in Canada, and a driver’s license are important when applying for a job.

The SIN/SSN are required by employers and a driver’s license may be a requirement for employment and having one shows the employer that you, the potential employee, are prepared.

The Canadian SIN has become a national identication number, in much the same way that the SSN has in the United States.

However, unlike in the US, in Canada there are specific legislated purposes for which a SIN can be requested. It is not an identity document.

Unless an organization can demonstrate that the reason it is requesting an individual’s SIN is specifically permitted by law, or that no alternative identifiers would suffice to complete the transaction, it cannot
deny or refuse a product or service on the grounds of a refusal to provide a SIN.

Examples of organizations that legitimately require a SIN include employers, financial institutions that provide interest on deposits, and federal government agencies. Giving a SIN when applying for consumer credit, such as buying a car or electronics, or allowing it to be used as a general purpose identification number, such as by a cable company, is strongly discouraged.

In the United States, the SSN is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act.

The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the United States government. Although its primary purpose is to track individuals for Social Security purposes, the Social Security number has become a de facto national identification number for taxation and other purposes, such as identification for school or to open bank accounts.

Today, a SSN is required regardless of the child’s age in order for parents to receive a tax exemption.

Why are these such a challenge for Native people? In Canada, application forms for SIN’s are not easy to obtain in rural and remote areas, which is where many Native people live. Likewise in the USA, many reservations are in rural and remote areas, although today SSN applications can be done on the application for a birth certificate.

Driver’s licenses are another challenge.

Firstly, go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles office (or your local counterpart to the DMV) to apply for a US driving license. Typically, at least the following documents are required for application: Proof of Social Security Number. Passport or other documents that serve as valid proof of identity.

If you’re a teenager applying for your first driver’s license through your state’s DMV, Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), Department of Public Safety (DPS), Motor Vehicle Agency (MVA), Department of Revenue (DOR), or Secretary of State (SOS) office, you’ll need to satisfy your state’s teen driver requirements.

Whether your state has a graduated driver’s license ( GDL) program or not, you’ll likely be required to:

Complete a Driver’s Ed program.

Apply for a learner’s permit.

Obtain a provisional license.

Upgrade to your unrestricted driver’s license.

Each phase you’ll complete will help you gain the skills and knowledge necessary to pass the DMV written test and driving test required to get your unrestricted driver’s license.

In the United States, driver’s licenses are issued by each individual state, territories, and the federal district rather than by the federal government because of the concept of federalism. Drivers are normally required to obtain a license from their state of residence and all states recognize each other’s licenses for temporary visitors subject to normal age requirements. A state may also suspend an individual’s driving privilege within its borders for traffic violations. Many states share a common system of license classes, with some exceptions, and commercial license classes are standardized by federal regulation.

The minimum age to obtain a restricted driver’s license in the United States varies from 14 years, three months in South Dakota to as high as 17 in New Jersey. In most states, with the exception of South Dakota, a graduated licensing law applies to newly licensed teenage drivers, going by names such as Provisional Driver, Junior Operator, Probationary Driver, or Intermediate License.

These licenses restrict certain driving privileges, such as whether the new driver may carry passengers and if so how many, as well as setting a curfew for young drivers to be on the roads. For example, Utah drivers who are under 18 may not have other people outside the family in the first six months with a license. Unlike in some states of Australia and some provinces of Canada, however, graduated licensing laws do not require lowered speed limits, displaying of L and P plates, restrictions on towing a trailer or boat, or prohibitions on highway driving or operating high performance cars.

Drivers under 18 are usually required to attend a comprehensive driver’s education program either at their high school or a professional driving school and take a certain number of behind the wheel lessons with a certified driving instructor before applying for a license. Some states like New York also require new adult drivers to attend some form of driver’s education before applying for a license.

However, in some states all newly licensed adult drivers may be on probation for a set amount of time (usually between six months and two years), during which traffic violations carry harsher penalties or mandatory suspensions that would not normally apply to experienced drivers.

In Canada, driver’s licences are issued by the government of the province or territory in which you reside.

Each province and territory has their own requirements for driver’s licenses. Many provinces use the graduated driver licensing program for new drivers, and legal driving age is determined on a province-by-province basis.

A driver’s licence includes your name, address, signature, date of birth, gender, height, card issue and expiry dates, as well as codes showing what class of vehicles you may drive and under what conditions.

A ministry approved driver’s handbook, purchased from your province or territory, will provide you with the rules of the road, safe driving practices and how to get your licence to drive a car, van or small truck.

And the third major obstacle to employment is a criminal record.

Many employers require a criminal check prior to recruitment. Some job positions require a criminal check, e.g. working with children, working for a financial institution.

Unfortunately, many people do not clearly understand the implications of a criminal record. One young man I know was determined to join the Army and went through several steps in the recruitment process before his conviction for drug possession was made known to the recruiter. That ended the process immediately and when asked why he had applied knowing he had a conviction, his answer was, “I really didn’t think it was that big a deal. Everybody I know has been in trouble with the law.”

Well – not everyone has been in trouble with the law and they are the one’s who get the jobs. Likewise, those who have a driver’s license AND a clean driving abstract will be chosen over someone who does not have a license, even if the job does not require a license. This is because having a license shows a level of maturity employers require.

Don’t limit your options for a job as a mistake can affect your entire life. And although criminal pardons and paying fines et cetera are available, they take a long time, a lot of money and effort, and require not making another mistake.

Choose the easy way to make an employer want to hire you.

L.C Stanley and colleagues are available for training and presentations on Career Development for Native People by contacting SAY Magazine – 1.866.485.2380.