When a Background Check Reveals a Misdemeanor

Jason Morris

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.

When a Background Check Reveals a Misdemeanor

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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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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