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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Foolish Youth

This is regarding my first job out of college (one of the top 10 engineering programs in the country) with a large automotive manufacturing company. I have had 15 months of internships (one 3 month term and one 12 month term) with the company and they have offered me full-time employment that is contingent on an acceptable background screening. The job is a manufacturing engineering position with no driving required.

The reason that this concerns me is that I have a list of charges (dismissed) and two convictions (not dismissed) on my record. These charges include:

1. 2003 Minor consuming alcohol ticket – fine paid, no conviction, home town

2. 2004 Minor consuming alcohol ticket – fine paid, no conviction, college town

3. 2005 DUI conviction, no accident, .12 BAC, no aggravating factors, college town

4. 2006 Alcohol intoxication - $100 ticket paid, work town

While the majority of these charges against me never amounted to a conviction they do tend to spell out a pattern (no arrest in 2007 , that was my resolution last New Year’s). Also, I did not think that charges with no conviction would show up on a background check (but they have with other companies recently). Another major company has revoked my offer in light of these charges specifically listing them as the reason. The company that I am accepting the offer from employed me with a background check in December 2005 so I assume that the charges before that were known. They would not be aware however of the DUI or the alcohol intoxication ticket afterwards.

My question:

How should I approach the situation with the HR department? Their HR department is far removed from any of the people I have worked with (different state actually) and I do not know if I should bring it up or if I should keep mum about it. Would it be to my credit to come forward with it ahead of time? If the job is not driving related will this affect their decision about whether to continue with the employment?

I really am an honest hardworking intelligent person, which people I have worked with know, but have had bad luck and a careless attitude regarding alcohol related law.

Any advice you can offer will be much appreciated.

Hmmm, you have what I call seriously bad judgment. In fact, I think you probably have a drinking problem and should seek professional help.

Now, as to what you should say to HR? Nothing. If you've been asked to fill out a new application or form for this background check, do so honestly. I doubt the juvenile convictions count. However, if this is a reason to disqualify you from the job, no matter your excuse you aren't going to get the job.

Your supervisor during your internship can vouch for your ability to do the job, but no company wants to make an exception to a rule for a recent college grad. They might make an exception for a highly regarded new executive, but not at the entry level.

That said, I don't know that there is a business reason to disqualify you since the job doesn't directly involve driving. However, it is for an automotive company and therefore, they may be more careful about it.

Don't be tempted to lie. Lies like this will get discovered. If they ask for an explanation you can give them one, but otherwise they are going to make their decision based on the conviction.

And for everyone else reading, please don't be stupid when you drink. If you are going to be stupid when you drink, stop drinking. It's not worth the cost you may have to pay later on.


joe said...

I think i work for the company that offered him a Job. Even if I don't, at my company you're often expected to take a vehicle out of the vehicle pool for any number of reasons. There could be an off site meeting. You might need to go to another plant for a few weeks to learn a new process or help with new machinery. You might need to drive a vehicle to evaluate it for any number of quality reasons. The form you have to fill out before you do any of these regular business activities has a check box for booze related problems. This is going to come up a LOT

Anonymous said...

That said, I don't know that there is a business reason to disqualify you since the job doesn't directly involve driving.

Hmm. It seems to me that it's only a matter of time before s/he kills someone driving drunk and will either be in jail or at the very last have his/her life consumed by legal issues, which would result in the need for a new job search and retraining.

class factotum said...

Was the bad luck that you got caught? If you used that excuse with me, I would wonder about your good luck -- how many times were you DUI without being caught.

This was bad judgment. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. You've definitely got the experience.

Melinda said...

I think "Giving up alcohol totally" would have been a much more advantageous and productive New Year Resolution! You could even explain to employers that "I had a problem in the past and have now been dry for X years" They're much more likely to view that favourably rather than seeing several issues with excess alcohol and DUI and knowing that you're still drinking.

Jeremiah said...

Since you have a working relationship with the company, maybe you should be up front with your manager. Hopefully if you have worked your ass of he/she will speak on your behalf.

Or you can try going to a different state. I worked in a gas station and unknowingly sold beer to a minor. On applications I just put "misdemanor offense-paid fine" if the ask for details I tell the truth. Alot of companies only do background checks by state.

HR Wench said...

And why isn't the company doing background checks on their interns? Hello? I don't get it. If I have temps I make the staffing agency drug test and background check people before they even present their resume to me. An intern, paid or no, is getting the same treatment prior to working for me as any other "hire".