How To Handle Background Checks

As a public finance and bond counsel recruiter, it's important that you understand how to handle background checks.

In previous blogs, I’ve talked about time killing deals. As a public finance and bond counsel recruiter, I want to address the very serious issue of background checks.  As we are in a fiduciary relationship with our issuers, whether we are public finance bankers or bond counsels, we can be involved in very high-level conversations regarding monetary transactions.  Therefore, in order to land the position, there are vast background checks and due diligence that hiring companies will perform.

To determine the suitability of the candidate to the client company or firm, you can endure the following methods: background checks, fingerprints checking, drug testing, reviewing of U4’s for public finance bankers, conflict checking for bond counsels and more.  Being a public finance and bond counsel recruiter, I can verifiably state that not everyone is going to have a “perfectly” clean record. For instance, there can be disclosure issues on a FINRA report, or other items may appear even with a clean FINRA report that can show up on the completed U4. 

What If There Are Issues From My Past?

Life happens and these issues must be dealt with.  Not all infractions will prevent a client company from hiring you.  Certain firms tend to be more stringent about dealing with these issues as they arise.  For example, a bankruptcy in the past should not affect you for getting a job if the bankruptcy had nothing to do with your position as an attorney or public finance banker.  For instance, a bankruptcy due to medical related issues is fairly common. Most firms will see through this if it is disclosed and explained with proper documentation. As a public finance and bond counsel recruiter, I have even been able to get candidates hired with tax liens, if there is a supporting payment plan with the IRS.  The common theme is that there needs to be thorough documentation to get firms to listen to mitigating circumstances.

Front Running Is Key

Now here is the key to having this happen, what I affectionately call “front running”. Front running is when you, or if you are working with a public finance and bond counsel recruiter, are completely upfront about any issues that will be discovered in a background check.  If you are forthcoming and explain what will be found and what was done to mitigate the situation, firms are more likely to listen to your explanation. It is when you do not disclose something that it can really hurt you. Candidates are under the impression that firms will not find out “skeletons” but rest assured that they will and do all the time.  But the candidates that are upfront about any issues have alerted the firm, which allows the firm to vet the issue before going further in the hiring process. I am not saying that all issues can be mitigated. Anything that has to do with a violation of a fiduciary responsibility can never be mitigated as a current felony. However, stealing a sandwich and a coke twenty years ago, even though it was considered a minor felony for this individual, was mitigated.

In closing, full disclosure upfront should be the plan if you have any concerns about what may show up in your background check. Remember that a clean FINRA is not the only thing that is examined.  If you have circumstances that you would like to discuss please reach out to me for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email me at [email protected].

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 level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, and Bond Counsels. He can be reached on LinkedIn, at [email protected] or 760-477-1284.