“Shady” Past Hurting Your Job Search?

Career missteps are nothing new–you might even have made one or two yourself. However, if you made a mistake that involved ending up on the wrong side of the law, you’ve probably discovered that it can have a hugely negative impact on your employability–especially in senior-level positions and/or those involving sensitive areas of a company, such as finance.

In too many cases, you never have the opportunity to explain the situation–for example, to show what you’ve done since then to remedy your error or initiate the changes necessary to ensure never making that kind of mistake again. Employers take one look at your information and say, “Thanks, but we’ll pass.”

Recently, however, it appears that employers’ knee-jerk reaction to job seekers with a somewhat flawed past might be diminishing at least somewhat.

Screening Applicants with a Criminal Past

According to “The State of Screening” (by Lauren Dixon on Talent Management Today), the trend is changing. She cites a survey that shows “roughly 75% of employers said they provide background assessments where candidates with criminal histories are able to explain the details of their conviction…”

Among other key points shared in the article, I found these especially interesting:

  • For executive-level hiring, 58% said they use the same background check as for other employees, while 39% conduct more extensive checks and 2% don’t do a check at all.
  • While 90% indicated they had found information at some time that led to not hiring the individual, 44% of them disqualified less than 5% of the applicants who revealed a criminal conviction.
  • If a candidate lies on the resume or job application (for instance, trying to conceal a criminal incident or claiming a degree they don’t have) and is found out before hiring, a substantial number of the employers would reject the candidate: 44% for lying on the application; 75% for lying on a resume.

What Can You Do about This Problem?

If you’re fortunate enough to be targeting one of the employers that shows some leniency or open-mindedness about past mistakes of this kind, most likely you just need to have a convincing explanation to reassure the company that you’re not a risk going forward. Even better, that you’ll be a strong asset because of the value you can bring that far outweighs your mistake.

On the other hand, if you can’t prevent rejection because you never get a chance to explain anything to offset the “bad news,” you face a much tougher challenge. One step you probably should take is to head off the situation if possible by networking your way into the company. If you can establish one or more supportive contacts within the organization, you might well be able to provide your explanation that way. Obviously, this requires establishing a positive relationship with your contact(s), so there’s a willingness to advocate for you.

If you take the right steps and take advantage of opportunities to clear the air, you might be able to change this hostile job search environment:

Website_Desert Picture

into this:

Website_You're Hired Picture.

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