We’ve all made mistakes in our past and done things which we’re not proud of. Most of us though can forget about those mistakes and move on with our lives. It can therefore come as a bit of a shock when your past is dredged up through a DBS check for a new job. Depending on the level of check, old convictions, cautions and reprimands might appear on your form once returned to you. So how do you tackle this with your employer, and maximise the chances of being offered the job?
Know What Will Appear
It’s important to be clear about what information will be shown on a DBS form before you decide what to say. A basic disclosure is only going to show offences which aren’t considered “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. An enhanced disclosure for roles working with children or vulnerable adults is going to require a more in-depth check, and will show all convictions and cautions, even if they would be considered spent in other circumstances.
The most tempting course of action is to say nothing and hope for the best. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to work. The Police computer doesn’t “forget” offences, and the form will be printed with whatever information is held on it. Lying about what an employer can expect to find on a DBS, or just keeping quiet about potential misdemeanours in the past might just make you look untrustworthy. It’s always best to be upfront. You won’t be the first employee to have had a criminal record. Some studies say that as many as one third of adult men in the UK have a criminal record, and the majority of those are employed.
It’s important to remember that anything you tell an interviewer or recruiter about your criminal record should be kept private and only shared on a need to know basis. You are well within your rights to ask for information to be kept confidential. How you approach the matter will depend on the situation. Someone who had minor brushes with the law 20 years ago can easily demonstrate that their brushes with the law are in the distant past and that they’ve been on the straight and narrow ever since. A more extensive criminal record might be more of an issue, but again it’s about demonstrating change and making a fresh start. Personal references are even more important in this situation, so give employers telephone numbers of people who can vouch for you rather than email addresses.
Remember also that not all jobs require DBS checking. If you feel that your criminal record is stopping you from getting those job offers, then divert your attentions into looking for a job which doesn’t have the requirement of a DBS certificate. Once you’ve proven yourself in the role, you’re in a stronger position to move into a different position with a recent reference.