I am NEVER surprised when we uncover dirty laundry or perceived hidden skeletons from a candidate’s background report. I’ve seen it all. From previous convictions for misdemeanors and felonies ranging from assault and battery to drug possession to stupid college public drunkenness convictions. If it’s public record – it is likely going to rear its ugly head. It will show up – no doubt. That includes the modern day DUI convictions from a nice dinner out with a couple of glasses of wine with your friends and family. It happens and if handled properly –it’s not the end of the world or your career Waterloo.
More and more employers understand that people they hire made mistakes and that we are all human beings that walk and talk and yes… sometimes do stupid things. The real key in dealing with our not so perfect past is stepping up to the plate. Trying to avoid taking responsibility for a misstep in your past when there is a public record to document what happened is not the right track to take. Nope. In fact – it usually (OK – always) works against you! If you made a mistake – just admit it, make sure the person conducting the interview knows you take responsibility and re-direct the focus on whey you are the best candidate for the land. Let’s face it – no employer in their right mind will or should use a fun night back in college 20-30 years ago to determine your value today. And you don’t need to illuminate a neon light on the subject either – until it is brought to your attention. Then it’s time to discuss what happened and what you learned from the experience and who you are today – right now!
If your old skeletons are found during a background check – treat them like the old relic they are. Don’t cut and run, make excuses or go into denial. Just focus on the opportunity and make sure you remember why you are where you are today in your career. Focus on your value equation and not from the mistakes from the past. Chances are the person that is interviewing you has their own list of indiscretions in their closet. I’d bet on it!