So, what you do if you do your own background check and you find things in your background that most likely an employer won’t like? And you never know what an employer can tolerate and what they can’t. For instance, some non-financially oriented companies don’t really care if you filed a bankruptcy or had credit problems. But banks and financial institutions will not likely hire you if you have problems like that in your background. Where things like DWI’s show up on one background check and not on another. The thoroughness of some of the services varies.
If you are totally surprised by what you find and you are absolutely certain the information is wrong there are procedures you can follow to have the record purged or you can provide information to offset the impact of the problem. For instance, not too long ago, one of our candidates had a bankruptcy report on their record. It turns out that their ex-spouse was going through some emotional and mental problems and cleaned out all of their savings by gambling. Once the candidate explained this to people the problem did not stand in the way of being hired.
Here is the important thing. And it is very important! If you know that they’re going to be some problems in your background or credit check, you need to be able to explain it to a prospective employer before they discover it through the background check. Now there are some things you can’t do much about. You’ll probably have a very hard time talking yourself around a felony appearing in your background. Most companies simply aren’t going to hire someone with a felony. But other problems, even as serious as DWI’s will often be overlooked if the candidate is good at explaining them and explaining how the circumstance has been rectified.
It is amazing the number of hiring authorities who are downright sympathetic with the candidate’s past problems. My sense is that is because many of them have challenges like these in their own past. So, you do the best you can by saying something like, “Look, I really want to come to work here, but you need to know that when you do a background check you’re going to find a bankruptcy 10 years ago… a DWI five years ago… that I was fired in my last position…etc. Let me explain the situation…” Then give a very calm straightforward explanation of what happened. Whatever you do don’t get emotional, defensive, claim that the information is a lie or the records are a mistake or anything like that. Any kind of denial or defensiveness or justification will seal your fate. Explain the situation as reasonably well as you can and then ended by saying “If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to explain further. How do you think this information is going to impact my candidacy?”
This last question is absolutely essential. You will get a really good idea if the problem is going to stand in the way by the reaction of the hiring authority when you explain the situation and then ask this question. Some employers are going to overlook some things. Some employers are going to overlook others. We know plenty of sales organizations that love to hire candidates who have either file bankruptcy or had very bruised credit with the theory that those people who need money will work a lot harder than those who don’t. Sometimes, that works out very well.
The explanation that a candidate has to have when they are going to counter these challenges has to be exact, precise and practiced way before the interviewing situation. If the explanation is a poor one or it is communicated in a poor manner, the candidate is not likely to get hired. I can’t emphasize more the need to practice the explanation to the point where it is a smooth, low keyed and polished. The difference between being able to explain this in as reasonable fashion as possible or the way most people would, is the difference in getting the job or not.
Practice, practice, practice.