Tue, Jan 15, 2008
Joann Lublin’s WSJ article of October 2, 2007 is entitled: “Silence is Golden Rule for Resumes of People who Have Broken It.” She suggests to those job-seekers convicted of crimes not to reveal anything about imprisonment on their resume, to cite the source of training in the correctional institution as the State Dept. of Ed and to omit dates for time in prison.
I asked Billy Greenblatt, CEO of Sterling Testing Systems (employment and background screening) and a member of Vistage International (CEO membership organization) what he thought of this advice. Here is his view as I heard it:
Teaching deception to people who have been in prison will ultimately send them back to prison. Deception on a resume will be found out, especially of the type advocated in the article and sometimes including a line or two that the applicant forgets they have fudged.
The first step in “recovery” is forthright dealing with the problem. It is illegal in many states for an employer to deny a job because of a conviction unless there is a clear nexus between the crime and the job (e.g., theft and bank teller). However, employers hungry for talent will hire applicants with other crimes (possession of cocaine, violence against abusive spouse) who have paid their debt to society.
Carefully worded, forthright resumes that demonstrate recovery will result in being denied many interviews, but are likely to earn some interviews where the probability of getting the job is higher.
As Tom Friedman said in his editorial some months ago in the NY Times, we now live in an age where being forthright and sensitive to your audience are even more important because there is a permanent record of what we say and do and how we say and do it.