Welcome to the bracketastic edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future tax associate is losing sleep over his offer with a Big 4 firm that could be at risk because of two past convictions. Will his past indiscretions torpedo his job prospects before things get rolling?
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Back to our tax troublemaker:
To whom it may (going) concern,
I recently accepted an offer to join the Tax Department at a local Big 4 office. Although quite ecstatic to receive an offer from my top choice, I am worried that a past arrest may jeopardize my prospects with the firm. The case consisted of two convictions, unlawful open container and trespassing. I am in the process of getting the convictions expunged, however, I don’t know if they will be off my record by the time background checks are performed.
What will the firm make of this? They seem pretty minor on the continuum of things to be arrested for, but I didn’t know if any arrest is seen as a warning signal. If it’s something I should worry about, when and who should I contact with this information.
Any help is welcomed, because after pre first-round interview dreams and pre-second round interview dreams, the last thing I want is to have dreams regarding my background check for the next seven months.
Dear Open Trespasser,
Lucky for you, I have experience in this regard, as I had my share of minor offenses prior to starting my career. The details of which are inconsequential but let’s just say I had a run of bad luck prior to reaching the age of 21. In your case, I’m pretty confident that you have little to worry with regard to your two convictions, mostly because they are minor, non-violent offenses. If you had taken the open container, cracked it over someone’s skull (the trespassee, let’s say), which then resulted in a circus of a trial that tarnished your entire school’s/fraternity’s/family’s reputation, then you might have a valid concern.
Having said that, it’s not impossible that a firm wouldn’t, all of sudden, decide to make an example out of someone but it seems pretty unlikely. Everybody makes mistakes and if your tax group really was excited about bring ing you on board, a couple of slip-ups like this aren’t going to change their mind about you.
You’re doing the right thing by requesting the convictions to be expunged and I believe they would do so after a number of years, even if you chose not to do so. Good luck with the new gig and try to keep your nose clean. But, breaking the law while an employee of a Big 4 firm is definitely not a great way to keep a job.