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Short Work History and Past DUI

by Daniel
(NYC)

Mike-
Here is a brief breakdown of my situation:

I worked for 3 years as an IT Desktop support tech. No problems. Left to be a field technician.

7 months on the job, the company split up, so I left for a more permanent position doing the same work with another company over concerns I had about stability. I have a good recommendation from the employer.

Next, I spent 9 months in a horrible work situation trying to remedy the most troubling clients in a firm whose main IT person was out with a broken leg. Everything was going fine until that person returned.

My performance was questioned. Eventually I was let go. Fortunately, I was able to collect unemployment for 4 months. My reference contact at this company was let go. I am not using them as a reference.

Next. I found a new position doing the same work. At that time I was going through a terrible divorce. Due to stress and my lack of judgment, I got my first DUI and lost my driver's license.

I was getting counseling and working on obtaining a work permit. Under the advice of my employer's attorney I was let go. I am getting unemployment under the laid off due to lack of work guise, to which employer agreed. He said he did not want to let me go. I also have a good recommendation from this employer.

Now I'm 5 months out of work with no car. I moved to the city to position myself closer to new opportunities. I can get a work permit if my next employer signs off on it. I'm looking for a position working in-house so I don't have to travel.

I have had 5 interviews and 2 2nd interviews as a network support person. I am getting phone calls from recruiters for contract work. I have an interview with one tomorrow.

I am just trying to find a job in the city where my driving will not be an issue. No luck so far. I don't want to have to go back to waiting tables.

BTW--I did complete extensive counseling for my personal issues. I do not believe I have a drinking problem and I feel well recovered. I just want to move on with my life at this point.

How do I best explain the issue to a prospective employer by being honest without showing any sign of risk?

Mike Comments:

First of all, I commend you for doing all the right things to remedy your situation. Getting counseling was an excellent idea because sometimes when we are going through a personal crisis, we need something external to help us cope and move forward.

You sound like a very honest, dependable person who simply made a mistake one night. This shouldn't define your whole life.

I'm optimistic for you. Even though you've been unemployed for 5 months, you're collecting unemployment, you're getting calls from recruiters and prospective employers, and you live in a major city with public transportation. Your past employer has also agreed to give you a good reference.

Your biggest problem is you can't drive. I'm assuming your driving privileges have been suspended for one year. If that's the case, you're half way through your ordeal.

I don't see any way around your driving dilemma. You simply have to keep looking for an IT support job that doesn't require driving. Right now the IT field is one of the bright spots in the economy.

Network with as many past IT associates as possible to find job leads. 80% of all job openings are not advertised. So, this is why you need to network with others and not depend on the Internet for all your job leads.

When you are networking with friends, associates, and referrals, don't tell them about your DUI or personal issues. They don't need to know this. All you need from them right now is a job lead or a referral of someone who may be able to give you to a job lead.

As you follow up on each job lead, just take it one step at a time. Ask if the job requires driving. If it does, just tell them you don't have a car right now, and so this won't work for you. If they offer to let you use the company car, just thank them, but say you don't have a driver's license...nothing more. You're not obligated to tell them about your DUI.

Note: Daniel lives in NYC. Lots of people who live there don't drive or own a car. So if you live in California or the Midwest, this line of questioning isn't going to work.

If you simply cannot find a non-travel job, you have to do whatever you need to do to put food on the table until you get your driver's license back. If you lost your license for a year, you're half way there. Not too bad.

If you lost your driver's license for more than a year, go down to your local license bureau and explain to them that your license was suspended for a DUI. It's preventing your from getting a job. Do they know of a way you can get your suspension shortened? They may refer you to someone who can help you, or give a couple ideas.

If they can't help, see if you can connect with a legal clerk or someone in the legal system that issued your DUI penalty. I'm only suggesting this because I'm sure money is tight for you right now and you probably can't afford a lawyer. I've found that many legal clerks know the system very well and could give you an idea on how to go about getting your suspension reduced.

Here is another good resource for you: DUI Process, Clear Your Drunk Driving Record.

It's worth a try. In this economy, with so many people out of work, they may shorten your suspension if it will get you working again and they don't see you as a driving risk.

Maybe some of our readers have another idea or two, and will post here for you.

Lastly...what do you say to prospective employers when they inevitably ask you, How did you lose your last Job?

Here is what I recommend: Call your last employer and speak to whomever told you they would give you a good reference. Explain to them you haven't been able to find a job. Tell them no one will hire you if you tell prospective employers you were fired for a DUI. Ask your ex-employer if they will tell prospective employers that their policy is to only verify employment...nothing else. Also, ask if they will add that your departure from the company was not performance related as you did good work. Period.

Many companies do this today and since your ex-employer seemed so willing to provide you with a good reference, they should agree to this.

This way you can tell prospective employers and recruiters that you were laid off from your past job and there is no way for them to clarify this by calling your ex-boss.

Also, many companies will not check your driving record unless they have to cover you on their insurance. So, when you get your driver's license back, you still might have difficulty getting a travel job. You're just going to have to take your chances with each job offer.

For further information, you can also read my comments to another visitor to my site about getting fired for a DUI.

Hope this helps a little. Don't forget to click on the comments/posts left by others. All the best to you.

Mike Petras

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Aug 12, 2011
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original poster update
by: Anonymous

Well, Well, seems I finally got my license back, after a full year. I have paid the price dearly and am no longer a slave to the judicial system.

I wasted no time getting resumes out for job that required a car. I landed a position at a great company making more than I did before, how?

If I can make one suggestion, never give up.

I would also add, I had more than one offer. I was being screened by company A at the she time company B made me an offer after just 2 interviews. I took the position. Three weeks later, company A contacted me about a 4th interview, I graciously declined.

See, I believe it is all a matter of not letting B.S.in interviewing take your emotions and make you feel as if people are going to judge you for poor decisions you have made in your career. We all learn by our mistakes. Even if you are fired, quit, got a dui, you can still be an asset to someone else. My company exploits my car's use to get back and forth to client sites. I do not mind. All they require is I have a car and a valid Driver's License.

They never asked me to take a drug test, check my background extensively, run my credit score, or ask me to take a psychological battery. They simply want me for my technical skills. I keep my head straight. I stay focused on my tasks, and I never complain.

In the meantime, I'm heading back to finish a BS degree. Studying my certifications, and thanking God for a second chance.

And many thanks to the webmaster for the great advice, and I wish the best for everyone who is in the fight for the right position.

Mike's comments: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I can feel your positive energy and confidence after I'm sure, many sleepless nights and prayers to overcome this. All the best to you and your family.

Aug 10, 2011
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Idiot w DUI and others' stupid post
by: Anonymous

I'm sorry I don't reply or post to comments or post made by others usually but I had to in his case....

If you get a DUI, I'm sorry but you're screwed.

Companies run background checks on almost everyone, including $7/hr employees. This background will include your credit and criminal background.

If you ask if this job requires driving, what would you do if you were the hiring manager?! You would ask why is he/she asking this weird question?

"I don't have a car"? Not a good response. "Don't have a license." Not a good response.

It is better to be upfront and tell them that you have a DUI.

The reason I know this is because I have a DUI and was one of the top sales reps for a fortune 100 company....and lost my job because of it because I was guilty as hell.

This is a nasty and tough question when it comes up in an interview and smaller companies and HR managers wont believe you when you tell them the reason.....and larger companies wont bother, they have too many other applicants to take a "RISK".

Bottom line, you are better off owning up to your DUI rather than waiting until the end of interview process...because they will find out. Be honest if nothing else, that will go a long way.

Mike's Comments: I see your point about owning up to a DUI, but it would be much better to do this at the end of an interview because you can at least build value with the hiring manager. If s/he is impressed with you and likes you, they may be able to relax the DUI policy depending on a lot of things (difficulty in filling the position, length of time the position has been open, the value of your contacts, etc.)

If you are applying for a position and the first words out of your mouth is, "I have a DUI", you make it too easy for them to just eliminate you.

The advice I gave this job seeker about asking about driving is only because he lives in NYC. Lots of people in NYC don't drive or own a car. Also, I suggested he ask these questions to his network, not the hiring manager. So, in this context it makes more sense. I should have made this more clear.

Yes...it is very tough to get around a DUI and most companies won't hire you, BUT not every company does background checks. So, you must keep trying.

At some point along the way, some loving soul will give you a second chance. I actually know a Class D felon who was recently hired by a $1 billion company after a friend called the president and asked him to relax the policy. It worked.

Best advice: Don't give up. Don't assume "no one will ever hire me". Handle each job opportunity on a case by case basis. Exceptions to company policy are made every day. But if you don't try, nothing will happen.



Aug 29, 2010
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thanks for the responses
by: Anonymous

I appreciate your advice. I feel so close. I had a good face to face last week, otherwise I'm still looking. I just need to hang in there. I'll have my DL back in 6 months. Funny thing is I don't think I'll be driving to work if I get a job in the city close by. It's too much of a hassle to park.

Mike's Comments: Ok...thanks. I'm sure you've thought of this, but make sure you contact Temp Agencies. Lot's of companies are putting people on contract for 3-6 months, then converting them over to a permanent position. I wrote a detailed article about how to go about this in one of my recent monthly newsletters. All the best.

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