Can You Get a Job in Banking If You Have a Misdemeanor on Your Record?

by Gigi Starr - Updated September 26, 2017
A misdemeanor conviction severely limits an applicant's chances in the world of banking.

The banking industry has a reputation for strict hiring policies. In addition to a credit check, banks also routinely conduct a criminal background check on any new applicant. If this criminal background check turns up a misdemeanor criminal conviction, the applicant may find her application denied. In some cases, however, a person may be able to prove herself worthy of a job at a bank. A misdemeanor conviction means reduced employment choices, but not necessarily an instant denial.

What Is a Criminal Misdemeanor Conviction?

A misdemeanor criminal conviction charge means that a person has been convicted of a minor offense in criminal court classified as a misdemeanor. Possible charges include illegal drug possession, shoplifting, disorderly conduct and some forms of assault. Conviction usually means a fine, probation, or a short stint in jail, along with any civil punitive damages. While a misdemeanor criminal record means nothing to some employers, other industries risk much by hiring a person with a criminal record, no matter the degree. The banking sector is one such industry.

Banking Jobs and Trust

The reason that banking jobs carry such strict standards can be summed up in one word: trust. Employees in both retail and investment banking jobs handle money in varying amounts, affording them opportunities to steal from both customers and the institution itself. If something goes wrong, and a past criminal is to blame, the bank is then vulnerable to large amounts of legal liability. Misdemeanor Guide states, "Many companies have been faced with negligent hiring in cases where they hire someone and that person causes harm...if they had used due diligence with the hiring process, the situation could have been avoided."

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Banking Jobs and Misdemeanor Convictions

To maintain the high levels of customer trust that a bank requires to attract and retain customers, an institution will usually bar any ex-convict from employment. Bank of America, one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., actually includes exclusionary language in ads. In one, the bank declares outright, "Candidates must be able to pass: background check (no felonies or misdemeanors)." Recruiters also may filter out any job application that includes a "yes" answer to the question, "Do you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction?" Plus, hiring an employee with certain convictions can even be illegal. According to Apostille U.S., Washington, DC law states, "You cannot work in a bank or financial institution if you have been convicted of an offense involving dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering."

Getting a Bank Job with a Misdemeanor Conviction

For the job applicant still determined to find gainful banking employment, small avenues exist. Applying at a small, local bank may be best, since the application is less likely to go through an automated service programmed to reject it. Be honest about the conviction, and come armed with recommendations from former employers and peers. If possible, bring the contents of past employment files including any positive reviews and commendations. Don't be afraid to point out if the conviction was for something non-theft related, like an arrest at a political rally or a bout of public amorousness; if an employment history is strong enough, the manager may look the other way on these sorts of offenses and offer employment on a probationary basis.

Later Remedies

For those who still can't sway a hiring manager, the only remedy is to wait out the time it takes for the conviction to fall off a criminal background check. For most misdemeanors, that time is ten years. After that period, the conviction will no longer show up, and the applicant is free to apply for a finance job. However, if honesty compels the applicant to answer that a conviction occurred, even without a mention on the background check, a banking job could still be out of reach.

About the Author

Gigi Starr is a freelance fashion writer. She previously served as the blog editor for a major online fashion blog and has more than a decade of backstage experience in the beauty and high fashion industries. She has worked for businesses like an internationally renowned theatrical touring company and events such as the Mercedes-Benz N.Y.C. Fashion Week.

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