When a Background Check Reveals a Misdemeanor
August 14, 2009
This is a great example of why to be honest on a job application. This individual is obviously being put between a rock and a hard place, but there are solutions. An employer is going to conduct an employment background investigation and this conviction will likely be found. It is very important for this individual to be open and honest about the past conviction do it does impair her ability to become employed.
By TODDI GUTNER
Q: A close friend was laid off in January. She is an educated, smart, professional, high performer and team player who has climbed the corporate ladder. She has also been a battered wife for many years. In 1995, she had enough of the abuse and hit her husband with a briefcase. He decided to call the police on her and she now has a misdemeanor on her record. When she applies for an executive position and they do a background check, this “domestic assault” charge appears. Since it was her ex-husband, she cannot get it sealed or expunged. What advice do you have for her?
[When a Background Check Reveals a Misdemeanor] Getty Images
Candidates with unfortunate histories on their records are often anxious and defensive in interviews. But it’s important to be upfront and honest about your record.
A. This is a legal issue as well as a career-transition issue. To that end, your friend may want to get some legal advice about how damaging and discoverable a misdemeanor is on someone’s record. At the same time, “it is important that she separate out personal situation from her professional achievements,” says Sheryl Spanier, a career coach and consultant. “She will want to create a compelling story about what she has accomplished and what she has to offer,” says Ms. Spanier.
First she will have the initial interview process, then the reference and background check to address. Even before she gets to the interview process, she will need to think about and be prepared to handle questions about her background. Often, candidates who have unfortunate histories on their records, are anxious and defensive in interviews and obsess over the potential of being discovered, says Ms. Spanier.
For the most part, companies do background checks late in the job-hiring process when they have a finalist candidate. “She should be upfront and honest about her record and what happened but not until the time when a prospective employer asks to do the background check,” says Jo Bennett, a partner with Battalia Winston International, an executive search firm. “At that stage, both the candidate and the employer are sincerely interested in each other and have built up a good level of rapport,” she says.
While all candidates offer references to potential employers, your friend will want to “amass character and work references that
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