Background Checks: Where Everything Comes To Light

What creates a bigger issue of background checks is when you don't have full disclosure before your new hiring manager conducts the background check.

I want to address the whole issue of background checks. This will pertain to both public finance bankers, bond counsels, and other people outside of our cottage industry. Since we are dealing with money, assets, and fiduciary relationships, the background check that all the firms do is paramount for someone getting hired. All firms are doing some sort of background check whether formal or informal. In today’s blog, we’re going to address any issues that potentially come up within the background check.

Surprises Are Fun Except In A Background Check

As far as I’m concerned, the worst thing that can happen in the hiring process is for a hiring manager to be told by their compliance department that there is an issue regarding someone’s background. I’m aware that not everybody is “squeaky clean,” and that is OK. What is worse is when a hiring manager finds out about an issue that was not disclosed ahead of time. It is the surprise element with an issue of background checks that don’t go well. If a candidate is aware of the possible issue that may be raised via the check, the best thing that he/she can do is to bring it up ahead of time. There are many reasons that there may be flaws in somebody’s background, but that does not necessarily have to mean an individual cannot get hired. When a manager finds out about something that was undisclosed, that immediately raises red flags as to the undisclosed item, the forthrightness, and the credibility of the candidate that they are considering.

What Formal & Informal Background Checks Say About You

When a recruiter is working with a candidate and raises the issue of background checks, the candidate must be open and disclose any possible issues that could be revealed. By the candidate chatting with the recruiter, the recruiter can offer the necessary advice as to how to mitigate the potential damage; or conversely, decide that the issue is too big to avoid. Therefore, the best answer may be to withdraw their candidacy. Candidates must realize that everything will come out in a background check. In our cottage industry where everybody knows everybody, background checks are done both formally and informally. Formally involves a full investigation into someone’s background by having them take fingerprints and drug-related tests. More importantly, it’s the informal background check that usually reveals other items about individuals’ character or ability to get the job done. Managers, even though they are competitors, will always look out for their colleagues in this industry. Yes, there’s great movement between firms, but where there is an individual with any sort of character flaws that will be shared amongst senior capital market individuals; thus, preventing a colleague from making a hiring decision mistake.

Avoid An Issue Of Background Checks: Why You Must Disclose It All Beforehand

If you know that there is something in your background that could potentially cause a firm concern, it should be immediately disclosed to the recruiter, if you are using one, or directly to the hiring manager. Trying to “sugar coat” any issue will not work. Full disclosure is the answer to how to deal with an issue of background checks that will be discovered. If a hiring manager knows that there’s going to be an issue, he/she can vet that with you before it goes to personnel and/or compliance. The information that the hiring manager has can then be presented to the responsible individuals in their firm that make the character and background decisions. When it comes from the hiring manager then compliance, if they are the ones responsible, are very much aware of what will be disclosed. The problem occurs when they are surprised. Please, if you have a background-related issue, disclose it directly to the recruiter and your hiring manager for the best results.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.