Should You Have to Lie to Get a Job?

BillNye By BillNye, 29th Jul 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Jobs>Graduates

Law enforcement agencies dig deep into your past, asking very personal questions. Should you lie to get the job?

Law Enforcement and Lying to get the Job: My Experience

As I just graduated from college in the Spring of this year, I am trying obtain a job. I majored in Business Management, but after taking quite a few business courses I realized I could never sit behind a desk from 9-5 everyday or I would lose my mind. Of course by the time I realized that business was not something that I would want to pursue, I had taken so many hours that I would be adding at least another semester of school by changing to something that I was more interested in. So, I just kept the major and decided that a degree was what was really important to me. As I began to wonder what I would want to do when I graduated, I realized that law enforcement was the only thing that offered all of my areas of interest rolled into one - Making a difference in a community, moving around all day, a relatively dangerous and demanding job, working with firearms, and a job for people who tend to be analytical. What I didn't realize was how hard it would be to obtain a job in this field even WITH a college degree.

Anyone who has any experience dealing with this industry knows how hard it can be to get your foot in the door. I have been learning this the hard way, one rejection at a time. I have applied to around nine or ten law enforcement jobs at the levels of federal, state, and local. In the cases of federal, if you do not have military experience or previous law enforcement experience you probably will not be getting a call back. However, the problem I have been running into with state and local departments, is honesty. For those of you not familiar with the way the law enforcement process works, it is quite lengthy. The process begins with the filling out of a general application, followed by a physical and written test. If you pass both of these tests, they ask you to fill out a "Personal History Statement". After you fill out this statement they use the information to start your background investigation. The catch is that there is a lot of information in this document that asks about prior arrests, drug use, and any other type of illegal act you can think of. The background investigators always tell you to be honest with them, because they are going to give you a polygraph examination later anyways. So what it boils down to for someone who has something in their past is, "Do I tell them the truth and possibly not get the job, or do I lie and hope that they do not know, and I can stay calm during the polygraph test?"

So I'm sure the question in everyone's mind at this point is what did I do that I might have to lie about? When I was a freshman in college I took prescription medication recreationally a few times. And by a few times I mean no more times than you have fingers. The humor in this to me is that I always refused to use marijuana because it was illegal and I didn't want to do something that would get me into trouble and that I would always feel guilty about. Well, apparently using prescription drugs is a more serious offense as far as law enforcement goes...To continue with the dilemma, do I lie? Or do I justify it and try to get my dream job? Well, to put it in simple terms there was a quote on one of the "Personal History Statements" that summed it up nicely. "If you will lie to me to get a job, then you would lie under oath to get a conviction". I can proudly say that I have never lied on any of my police applications and never will.

While I do not always agree with the reasons I have not been hired, it is comforting to know that the requirements of the ones who protect and serve this nation are quite stringent. Being so young and having all of the stupid things I have done in my past so close to the present is my biggest hurdle.However, I'm not sorry I did it. Without ever having done things that were wrong and making some poor decisions, how could I know that I wanted what was good? I would much rather hire someone who had some petty mistakes on their record and in their past but didn't enjoy those things. Instead, they learned from them and chose to do right, as opposed to someone who had never made any mistakes in their life and someday might wonder what that might be like.

Being a police officer, or any type of law enforcement officer, is a serious job. As much as you may want it, it is never right to lie to get to the end result. If you, like me, are trying to get a law enforcement job and have something in your past that might keep you from it, tell the truth. No one wants to have a job that in the back of their mind they will always know that they had to lie to get. If you have really been called to be a law enforcement officer, the details will eventually work themselves out. Just be honest with each department and if they turn you down, keep applying. Eventually you will be able to get your foot in the door somewhere and you will be proud that you did it with integrity.

I am still in the process with two other departments and I have not lied to either of them. If I get rejected for the same reasons as I have before, I will continue to apply with my head held high. A man is only as good as his word. If he does not have that, what does he have?


The quote is from an article called "So You Want to be a Police Officer" by Tony Wright.
I recommend reading it.

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