How to Overcome Background Check Disqualifiers

Overcome past mistakes to find a job in law enforcement


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Not everyone interested in criminal justice and criminology jobs has what it takes to get hired. The long hiring process, the inherent dangers associated with many available careers, and the physical rigors that come with the jobs all take a toll 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. However, that doesn't mean you don't have a chance. There are some ways you can overcome the issues in your past that otherwise might keep you from getting hired.

Asking for Reconsideration

If a background check reveals red flags from your past that disqualify you, 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 appeals process so you can present your side of the story. Once you know why an agency doesn't want to take a chance, you can attempt to explain the circumstances around the issue and present an argument as to why you've learned from the mistake and that it won't occur again.

The best way to appeal 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

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 is truly behind you.

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

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

Further Helping Your Case

Volunteering and helping in your community is an excellent way to demonstrate that you've changed your ways, and it's also a good 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.

It's also important to be patient. For some disqualifiers, letting time pass is sometimes the 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 several years ago as opposed to several months ago.

No matter how badly you want the job, there may be times when it becomes 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.