Will my high level connections overcome a DUI?

by Evil HR Lady on January 18, 2010

I have a friend pretty high up at a major company (in sales) who had recently talked to me about submitting my resume for employment. I had to gently remind this very good friend of mine that I have 2 DUI’s, but both are over 5 years old. I have since cleaned up my act and hardly ever drink at all. I certainly don’t drink and drive! She then took that information and asked her co-workers whether or not I’d have a shot at the position. They for obvious reasons told her that with so many viable candidates with clean records, why would they choose me?

But there’s a twist…One of my other good friend’s fathers happens to be a Senior VP with this very company. He was an ex cabinet member and has worked as a Senior VP for this company for around 6-7 years now. Needless to say, he has influence.

In your opinion, would this Senior VP be able to bypass “the rules” written or unwritten, with a letter of recommendation? Or am I still dead in the water? I doubt you can answer this question with certainty, so again, I am just looking for your opinion. I am qualified for this job otherwise and know I would be risk worth taking. My friend obviously feels the same or she would have never mentioned it in the first place. I am worried that my past in this regard has caught up to me and might prevent me from getting a job I really want.

Everyone has undoubtedly heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” There are certainly many cases where this is true, but usually you have to both know the right people and the right things.

So, in short, yes, a Sr. VP could pull strings and get you preferential treatment, and probably guarantee you a job. But, I can’t see why he would want to.

You see, while VPs can pull strings, they can’t pull them in a cost free way. If he does this, someone will owe him (or he’ll use up his credit on someone else owing him). Usually, getting a qualified person a job would be low cost expenditure for your average Sr. VP. But, you have a big black mark next to you that increases the cost to him tremendously.

The problem with sales is that you are expected to drive around all day. Your car becomes your office, which means the company is liable for your actions while you are in the car. Unless it would be illegal to consider a 5 year old DUI, I would fight tooth and nail to keep you from getting a job which puts the company at so much risk.

I know you say you don’t drink and drive any more, but there is no way for the company to know that. For all they know you just haven’t gotten caught. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

If you were the VPs daughter, then maybe he’d try. But, for a daughter’s friend, I doubt he would want to use up his capital and put his career on the line for you. Let’s say you get hired and you get into a car accident. Even if it is 100% not your fault, it’s going to come back and look bad on him.

Now, I don’t know what the laws are in your state regarding how convictions can be considered. If they would require the conviction to be ignored, then go out and get the job on your own. Without the big black mark on your record Mr. VP could probably (and more willingly) put a good word for you.

But, if they can consider it, I would think a company (and any VP who suggested it) foolish to put someone with two DUIs in a company car. So, yeah, I think this is where your past catches up with you.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

The Real Anon January 18, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with EHRL. Unless the friend's dad already agreed to pull strings for the writer, I can't imagine he'd use his influence to get her hired.

You have to consider, what's the upside for this guy? He gets nothing for using his influence to get the writer hired, but puts himself at great risk if she does get hired because of him and then screws up.

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jmkenrick January 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Even assuming you could get hired if you pulled strings, would that really be the best idea? I imagine your future manager wouldn't take kindly to being pushed into hiring someone she/he normally wouldn't. Not to mention, if it's a gossipy company and co-workers catch wind, it could potentially create a very unpleasant working environment.

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William January 18, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I think the writer would be better off putting energies toward getting the convictions expunged. Otherwise, yes, this is a millstone.

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Rosezilla January 19, 2010 at 3:13 am

fine, I'll be the judgmental dbag:

um, "hardly ever drink at all"?

yikes.

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Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Maybe I am missing something but the OP never mentioned that the sales job duties involved driving. Lots of sales jobs do not include driving. Did the OP reveal that to EHRL? Or is the OP worried that a DUI would preclude him/her from hire for ANY position?

Also, with regards to the high level favor thing… in the company I work for HR reports any questionable convictions to the VP of that department to determine whether to take the risk. If a VP were to vouch for the candidate, then we would hire them in a heartbeat. The question we would look into for the driving piece would be: Is this person insurable? Not sure how much I agree with our processes but this person would stand a good chance with our company.

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Evil HR Lady January 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Anon–yes, I know the industry and driving is required. I should have made that clear, but I didn't people googling ex cabinet members and companies in that industry.

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Anonymous January 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Yes,the DUI/DWI will adversely affect your hiring prospects. Remember, HR stands for "human RESOURCES" not "HUMAN Relations".
You are nothing but an expendable fixed-cost asset to them.

However, my one-and-only lifetime legal mistake nearly 7 years ago did not hamper me from going into a lower wage non-driving arena to survive. It won't matter what level of advanced education, references, or sterling work history you have: a felon will get more "forgiveness" (oops–the F word in our nation…)than a misdemeanor DUI, unless you are a "celebrity". Here is the rub: it's your life, not the Darwinian Capitalist System's. Do what you must to survive, STOP ALCOHOL USE COMPLETELY, live a straight-edge lifestyle (sXe on the web)and never give up. HR will always want to find a fault in you…they are like accountants searching for the missing penny, Theory X managers all-the-way.
As time goes by, your new sXe, clean health & fitness lifestyle will eventually put you back into the professional driver's seat without the need for any crutches like alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
Believe me, I may be bitter (obviously…), but I have been completely clean sXe for 7 years: something most HR reps can't match.
You can do it and turn out better than those who get bailed out from their "unforgivable" mistakes.
Take care.

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Anonymous October 15, 2013 at 6:28 am

First, “…a felon will get more “forgiveness” than a misdemeanor DUI”…erm, no, you mixed up the two.

Second, I’m responding because I see a discrepancy in this lady’s logic, where she says “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.”

Ok, good enough, but then goes on to say: “The problem with sales is that you are expected to drive around all day. Your car becomes your office, which means the company is liable for your actions while you are in the car….I would fight tooth and nail to keep you from getting a job which puts the company at so much risk.”

The problem I see is, if past behavior is utterly infallible, and the risk of driving drunk in a company car is a deal-breaker, then where did the person who originally asked the question mention that he drove drunk in a company vehicle? I keep re-reading the question but I’m not seeing it…

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