Before I run off to my first job of the week, I have been wondering how my Readers (with records) have dealt with their own backgrounds and getting jobs. What have you found that has worked for you? I’ve kind of experimented with ways to get into interviews and employment, and have simply gotten lucky a few times. Once, I got the job because the boss lived above me in my apartment complex, so she knew me to some extent and was able to slip me in before higher ups noticed the record bit. They couldn’t fire me because I had been upfront about it on my application and after she later left the company, I was able to stay because I had proven myself to them. I was even offered her job as Manager of the place, but the pay wasn’t what I wanted for the hours I would be putting in (kind of a bad choice in retrospect, because having that experience would probably be really handy in helping get better jobs down the line). This is one way that enforced the idea that networking with people outside our typical groups of friends is important. They can help you find people that are helpful and willing to give you references or even give you a chance themselves.
I’ve also tried hiding the fact that I was a felon, but that never panned out, especially since it seems that backgrounds don’t have an expiration date. If you get a job by lying about the past, it’s because you lucked out and got a company that doesn’t run backgrounds most likely. (Even with the chance of being charged with negligent hiring…) I’ve discovered recently that a good percentage of background checks run the entire past, except for juvenile records (simply because it’s illegal to share those without extra special paperwork). One of my most recent background checks had no problem finding the ten year old conviction, plus I got charged 15 bucks to cover the business’s expenses. (Actually currently arguing with them about the record, because they’re trying to deny me a raise in position because of the background, which is not in line with equal opportunity law from what my early research is telling me – it’s old and isn’t connected to the work that I’m performing in any way.) Has anyone else used equal opportunity laws to help them with keeping or getting a position with a company?
Another way to go about it, is to avoid the background checks period. And the only way to really do that is to go into business for yourself. Sure, you’ll have to look into what you are good at doing, if it can be marketed, and if you need a license from the state you live in to do the work, but it can be very much worth it. You can build a better reputation through this, or at least learn a lot while trying. And it never hurts to learn (even if the learning itself might be a touch painful for some).
Anyway, I’ve got to run for now, and I’m looking forward to seeing my Readers interact and share their stories and ideas here in the comments.