Dear J.T. & Dale: If someone were to do a background check on me, he or she would think I’m a terrible person. However, all the bad stuff was committed by someone who stole my identity. According to the police and district attorney, they need me to have this on my record in case the ID thief uses me again. I am trying to find work, with no success. I can forget ever again working as an engineer or as an accountant, even though I’m a bachelor of science in electrical engineering and a CPA. I’m trying to apply for menial work at retail stores, but the electronic applications ask for a Social Security number and permission for a background check. Where do I go from here? – Greg
DALE: Do NOT give up on your career, Greg. For one thing, you have the option to simply quit putting yourself in a position to have your background checked. You could, for instance, offer your services as an outside CPA to engineering firms. While someone might check your references before hiring your services, I’d be surprised if they did a background check. Notice that I said “hiring your services” – that’s a different level of inquiry than bringing you on as an employee.
J.T.: If you do want to seek regular employment, you’ll be up against a credibility issue: your word against the “factual” background check. What would be useful is finding a third party to tell the whole story. Perhaps a high-profile person in the community would champion your cause. Perhaps the DA’s office or someone in the police department would be willing to back up your contention in a letter.
DALE: If so, you’ll be in a good position once you get past interviewing to the actual background check. Typically, the background check comes only when the company has decided to hire you. So, if you aren’t getting interviews and job offers, you can stop blaming the identity thief. Start making real connections, not just sending out resumes and applications, and you’ll find that you can work through or around the background issue.
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