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Hi Going Concern,
Okay, this question has been really driving me insane. I know you will probably think I'm a troll, but this is real. So, I was a stripper for about ten months out of state when I was 20. I worked to save money to buy a car, travel, and go back to school. My family is pretty much just my fiscally irresponsible mother and I so in my mind stripping was the only option I had. There was no one to help me pay for school and living expenses but myself. I had a good time, met some cool people, paid new car off, and quit. I never paid taxes on that income or have any solid evidence that I worked there. I guess when I applied for my car loan I had to put down the name of the strip club and now its on my credit report and/or background check. No one knows I ever stripped and I would like to keep it that way until I establish myself. Now I'm applying and interviewing with the Big 4 and a couple national firms and I'm scared that they will run my credit report and see this strip club on my report and reject me or take back job offers. Last year I interned at a small firm and the director of HR called me to ask about the strip club on my credit report. I almost vomited I was so nervous. I told her I was a make-up artist there and didn't put it on my resume because it didn't seem relevant to the tax internship I was applying to. I have no idea is she believed me. I was still able to work that internship but the Director of HR lady was never friendly with me and I always felt like she was judging me.
Help!! What should I do. Will Big 4 reject me because of this strip club on my credit check?
Dear Naked CPA,
I am not going to hate on your previous choice of employment. Having paid for my own tuition, I admire your resourcefulness and commitment to rising above the example your parents set for you.
I can totally appreciate the anxiety you are feeling after having been nearly found out by the HR Director at the small firm. The good news is you don’t need to stress. The use of credit checks by employers is becoming increasingly restricted. Since employment law varies from state to state, I can’t say for certain what is and isn’t legal where you are looking to work. To get the facts, you might want to run a Google search on “hiring decisions and credit checks” with your state’s name.
Another fact I would explore is discovering exactly what is contained within your credit and background check. Otherwise, you are operating in the land of assumptions and interpretations, which is never a good place to be. Do the reports in fact reveal your revealing past? You guessed that this is how the small firm found out about it but do you really know? If I were you, I would want to know exactly what information was on public record so that I could have the best response prepared in advance. The reality is that your past could come up again. You don't know where your career path will take you, so it is better to have a handle on it sooner than later.
I also know that if firms actually run a background check, they don’t do it until after the person has accepted employment. I don’t think you will get rejected in advance nor do I see them rescinding your offer. Firms are always looking for rainmakers; if you earned enough to pay for a car, you were obviously good at that. If anything, they should hire you for that expertise if they discover it. And on this note: I know of a firm that hired a former stripper and with full knowledge of her sordid past. See, you don’t need to stress.
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