How to Overcome Background Check Disqualifiers

What You Can Do About Your Background

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Your good qualities can overcome your bad in the criminal justice hiring process. Joshua Blake/Getty Images

It's an unfortunate fact that not everyone who is interested in criminal justice and criminology jobs has what it takes to get hired. Between the long hiring process, the inherent dangers associated with many available careers, and the physical rigors that come with the jobs all take their tolls on otherwise qualified candidates.

For some people, though, the biggest impediment to landing a criminal justice job is their own past.

Extensive background checks for many jobs mean that if you have any questionable marks in your background, agencies may pass on your application. That doesn't mean you don't have a chance, though. There are some ways you can overcome some of the issues in your past that might otherwise keep you from getting hired.

Respectfully Ask for Reconsideration and Appeal

If a background check reveals behaviors in your past that will ultimately mean disqualification, your first step should be to find out exactly what it is that's keeping you from getting hired. Call your background investigator or hiring contact and ask for the information.

Many departments allow for some sort of appeal process, in which you can present your side of the story if you've been rejected out of hand. Once you know why an agency doesn't want to take a chance, you can attempt to explain the circumstances around the issue and let them know that you've learned from the mistake and that it won't occur again.

The best way to go about this is through a very respectful and professional letter. The tone should be contrite, not angry. Simply state your case and politely request reconsideration in light of the facts and circumstances you present.

Life-Changing Events Help Get Past Your Past

Many of us make mistakes when we're young, but life events help to change us and force us to grow up.

Even if you're guilty of the kinds of youthful indiscretions that might otherwise keep you from getting hired, life changing events can go a long way to showing that your past in truly behind you.

College graduation, military service, marriage and welcoming a new child are all significant indicators that you are ready to change your ways. These sort of life-changing events have a tendency to indicate maturity and, over time, can prove you are ready to hire.

If you write a letter to request an appeal, be sure to include information on why and how your life has changed since those past mistakes.

Do Some Good in Your Community

Volunteering and helping in your community is not only an excellent way to demonstrate that you've changed your ways, but it's also the best way to get the experience you're going to need to qualify for a lot of jobs. The more you can do to highlight the good, caring and helpful person you really are, the better.

Time is On Your Side When It Comes to Background Checks

For some background check disqualifiers, letting time pass is the best (and sometimes only) way to get to a place where you can get hired. If you had an issue - such as prior drug use, for example, agencies may be much more inclined to take a chance if it was 5 years ago as opposed to yesterday.

You've Got to Know When to Fold Them

No matter how badly you want the job, it may become apparent that it's just not in the cards for you. Whatever issues are preventing you from getting hired, there is wisdom in knowing when to move on to other opportunities. When and if that time comes, know that it simply means it may not be the right job for you.

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