Skeletons In Your Closet?

Will the hiring manager ever find the skeletons in your closet? They absolutely will. Here's how to handle any skeletons you have during the interview and hiring process.

We live in an information age.  Today anybody can find out anything about everyone with just a few quick clicks properly placed.  The internet has made the world your stage, and as such there is no longer the gap between the people that know and the people that want to know.  What am I saying exactly as it applies to recruiting?  It’s that there are no more secrets.  You will not be able to keep business-related secrets from the hiring manager. For example, the other day while I was talking to one of my clients about a candidate, they said to me, “Did you know…about your candidate?”

Can You Put Your Head In The Sand? The Hiring Manager Will Go Digging.

If there are skeletons in your closet, how do you deal with them? More specifically, how do you deal with them during the interview process?  The process of dealing with them depends on who is representing you to the hiring manager.  Are you going solo without using a recruiter or are you being professionally represented in the hiring process?  If you go solo, most candidates will choose to ignore the skeleton in the closet and hope the company does not find out about the “unknown.”  But the truth is that they will find out.  Therefore, bringing up the skeleton in the room is probably the best tactic.  Some skeletons are easily ignored while others are not.

The Hiring Manager Has Checks & Balances

For example, any disclosure that shows up in your FINRA report should be discussed immediately as that is easy to see.  All the hiring manager has to do is hit the full disclosure button, and anything with a red dot next to your firm name can easily be viewed.  As you are aware, you get to put anything in your FINRA to rebut any allegations; however, the point is they are there.  What about the skeletons that are not easily reportable?  They will definitely be revealed during the investigation phase at the time of the offer.  Some firms will do the investigation after an offer is tendered and some will do it before the offer is tendered; it just depends on the bank’s policies and procedures.  A full investigation will be done including credit checks, fingerprints, background checks, etc.  When you are dealing with a client’s fiduciary responsibilities, the checks are extremely thorough.

What’s The Difference When Using A Recruiter?

If you are dealing with a recruiter, the easiest thing to do is to discuss your skeleton(s) with your recruiter.  Everything that you share will remain confidential unless you allow the recruiter to share that information.  Having the ear of a professional recruiter can be the “make or break” difference in having a skeleton aired properly or not.  For example, if I know what that skeleton is ahead of time, we can coach you through the process of disclosing it to the hiring manager. Another option is having the recruiter bring it up beforehand with your permission, which is what usually happens.  By the recruiter bringing it up, it shows a couple of things.  First, it shows that you (the candidate) are not trying to hide things.  Second, it prevents the dreaded call from the hiring manager to the recruiter saying, “Did you know…?”  If it is bad enough, a hiring manager will not even tell the recruiter what the issue is, but they will say they cannot hire the candidate due to information that was revealed during the background check.

Be The First To Tell Your Side

We all make mistakes in life, which is what makes us human.  Those mistakes may have happened years ago, but they stay with you forever on your U4 if it’s business related.  If it’s not business related, it can stay with you for a long time. Here I am referring to bankruptcy, tax liens, or other more common violations I see on FINRA broker checks.  However, by airing these out before the initial interview with the hiring manager, you are able to share your side of the story.  As we all know everything has two sides, and it is more important to get your side out before the reports come back.  Being upfront with everyone in the process, whether you are represented by a recruiter or not, is definitely the right policy.  Take advantage of the knowledge of your recruiter. Be honest and upfront, then most of the skeletons can be exactly that: remaining skeletons in the closet.  And they will stay that way even though they’re now known.  Don’t let your past prevent you from an exciting future. Reach out to us and move forward with confidence.


You don’t need a resume to chat with us! 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. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. 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.