How to Handle a DUI in Your Job Search

If you have a misdemeanor, don't lie about it to potential employers.

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Suzanne Lucas
I had a misdemeanor DUI 10 years ago and have not had any tickets since then. I was recently laid off from my Hotel Security Director job after 10 years with the same company. I have an interview with another company for the same position and checked ye s to the question of have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Do you think this will limit my chances of getting the job?

I am pleased as punch that you checked yes on this question. Many people would have checked no, assuming it was so long ago that no one would find out about it. While that's possible, companies run background checks on people and it's unlikely. (And companies should run background checks. It's inexcusable not to.) Better to admit your faults up front. If you checked no and then they ran the background check, I can guarantee you wouldn't get the job.

Now, will this limit your chances of getting the job? I'd love to say that it wouldn't, but there is a small chance it might. If you've been clean (and please tell me you haven't driven while impaired again—not that you just haven't been caught) for 10 years, I doubt anyone would care.

Reality is, though, that there are a million reasons not to hire any specific person. No one is going to say, "You had a DUI 10 years ago, so no job for you!" They are just going to say, "We found a better fit."

You did the right thing in disclosing. You also learned your lesson and haven't repeated the offense. (For all the others out there who are contemplating making poor choices, perhaps you should contemplate more. Consequences can follow you forever. As I like to tell my Sunday school class, the Lord may forgive and forget your sins, but your neighbors—and the courts—will always remember.)

Look into getting your conviction expunged from your record. It's possible to do in some states. Good luck with the job hunt, and keep being honest. Your record of solid employment and no repeat offenses should make you a strong candidate.

Suzanne Lucas has nine years of h uman r esources experience, most of which has been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a p rofessional in h uman r esources c ertificate from the Society for Human Resource Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.