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"The cab fare will be far less expensive than a DUI or another drinking citation."

How Alcohol Citations Affect Your Job Hunt

November 23, 2015

While most students leave college with a degree and a diploma, some also carry alcohol citations with them. Are they serious? Are they insignificant? Will they be reason for potential employers to turn down a resume or application? We’ve asked our experts for their input and advice.

The short answer? It all depends.

Steve, hiring expert from Caterpillar Inc., says, “If it is something along the lines of a DUI and the job to which you are applying requires you to drive, this could be problematic.  If it is a more minor offense, it should not prevent you from obtaining a position if you are honest about it.” Mandy from Mutual of Omaha also says, “Most alcohol citations including DWI, MIP etc are ok if you are honest and state on your application that you have this on your record. They will typically not prohibit you from getting a position. The severity depends also if it's a misdemeanor or a felony and if it's a repetitive.”

Honesty is the big thing to remember here-- failing to mention or trying to hide citations is never a good idea and won’t play out well in the long run of your career. Steve adds, “Do not try to conceal it as it will be discovered in a background check and failing to disclose it will create bigger issues.”

If you’re concerned if something will be discovered by potential employers, this is helpful information: “If you were a minor when the incident occurred, there is a chance your record is sealed but that is up to the judge,” Stephanie from AT&T says. “When companies run background checks typically, the standard is to go back 7 years to see if you have any criminal records in all the counties you’ve lived, worked and went to school. Even if your incident was over 7 years ago but you were on probation within the past 7 years, it will show up on the background. Just because you have a record doesn’t mean you will be disqualified.”

Use your citation as an opportunity to show your growth to any recruiters or potential employers. Steve also says, “The most important thing is to demonstrate that the offense was a youthful indiscretion from which you have learned and matured.  Now you are focused on making a difference for that company.  In most cases, companies will appreciate the honesty and if you are the most qualified person for the job, give you the opportunity to prove yourself.”

In some situations, the hiring manager will not even know your record or be informed of any past citations, since that is typically something kept within the human resources department. “The Hiring Manager should not know what was on your background check,” Mandy adds. “Only Human Resources should be aware of this information.”

While it isn’t ideal to have an alcohol-related citation on your record, it isn’t an automatic disqualification for most jobs. Be sure to always be fully honest and give a thoughtful and mature explanation whenever asked to explain what is on your record. Know that hiding such information is always the worst option, so own up to it and use it as a way to show what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown as a result. We wish you the best of luck!

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