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Jewish World Review April 5, 2001 / 12 Nissan, 5761

Getting Hired By Marvin Walberg

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Consumer Reports

Revealing past crime depends on job-search situation -- DEAR MR. WALBERG: When would be the best time to disclose to a potential employer that one has a criminal record? If I am introduced to someone who works at a company I would like to be employed by, and that person could possibly be my supervisor, should I disclose my record, or wait until I have an official interview? A.R.

DEAR A.R.: For the answer to this question, I turned to my labor attorney contact, Jim May of the Birmingham law firm of Bradley Arant Rose & White LLP, who offered the following comments:

"This is rather open-ended, but honesty is the best policy usually.

"I don't see any legal reason to affirmatively reveal a criminal record in an 'informal' meeting if there is no question posed that might make nondisclosure seem to be dishonest.

"The blanket exclusion of applicants with convictions has been successfully challenged under the 'disparate impact' theory where business necessity is not shown. Most applications I see disclaim automatic rejection based on conviction when applying for positions that do not involve duties that require handling of money or similar tasks.

"The failure to answer truthfully direct questions, written or oral, however, is often cited as a reason to reject an applicant or discharge an employee later. My sense is, although admittedly unscientific, that employers are reasonably tolerant of mistakes in a person's history, but most do not tolerate misrepresentation by applicants/employees, no matter what the subject."

So, in an "informal" setting, if no question is posed that might make nondisclosure seem dishonest, don't bring up the subject.

In any meeting with a potential employer, informal or official interview, address all questions asked, both written and oral, truthfully.

All job searchers should focus on their skills and accomplishments, always maintaining a positive attitude toward the future. If there is any shadow in your past, your positive attitude and clear focus on your strengths becomes even more important.

Marvin Walberg is a job search consultant and the author of ''About Getting Hired: the Job Search.'' Comment by clicking here.


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