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So here is my scenario. I have two conditional job offers, both in the midwest. Both are conditional on credit and criminal background checks. I do have an impropriety from nine years ago that could be an issue.

Could I accept both conditional offers and then four or five days from now, when both companies have completed their conditional checks, I can then act accordingly based on what happens. How would you folks suggest approaching this situation?

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This is probably going to garner a few downvotes, but here goes:

If you have two conditional offers, then give them two conditional yeses.

Your goal is to get employed, so here's the decision matrix:

  • If you say "no" to either offer, you're definitely not getting that job, and have cut your odds of getting employed by 50%. So don't do that.
  • If you say "yes" to both, and...

    • both checks pass, you now have two jobs to choose from. Yay! Pick one, and tell the other "sorry, a better opportunity came up". They're not going to like it, but what can they do? They might even increase their offer if they really want you!
    • one check fails, then you can still get the other job.
    • both checks fail, then you're out of luck, but still no worse off than you would be if you had told one of them "no".

@Mircea offers the alternative option of telling them "yes, but" and proactively disclosing your "impropriety". This is basically the same as the "both checks fail" scenario, only you're hoping that the company will be lenient because you're coming clean beforehand. This seems pretty starry-eyed to me: companies don't like risks, they've got their criminal/credit risk screening process in place to reduce those risks, and it would take a brave hiring manager to override that process, because he will be blamed if something goes wrong. In most larger companies, the manager would not even have any discretion here.

Also, as far as ethics is concerned, this is not something like fabricating a diploma out of thin air, the worst you're committing here is a sin of omission, and you're dealing with a job offer, not a marriage proposal. If you're never asked whether you've committed an "impropriety" and the check doesn't pull it up, yet it still somehow comes up later, simply stating that you didn't think it would be an issue is perfectly defensible. (Although this may not stop the company from firing you.)

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Be open about what happen with both employers. Explain what happened before they perform the checks and ask if it's a deal breaker. If it is, it's better to know upfront. If not they will appreciate you being open about it and you can pick the employer based on your preferences.

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    That's the ethical, ideal-world answer, but depending on the nature of the "impropriety", it also runs a significant risk of them turning down the OP even though the background check would not have caught it. – jpatokal Jun 11 '15 at 4:34
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    sure. but do you want to start a work relationship with a lie? what happens if they found out afterwards? – Mircea Jun 11 '15 at 4:36
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    @Mircea "It never came up before and I didn't think it'd be an issue because you never brought it up and it happened nine years ago" – Jon Jun 11 '15 at 4:38
  • @Mircea That's easy for you to say. It's not your problem. auug is trying to make a living here. – Jack Jun 11 '15 at 4:58
  • @Jack fair enough. in the end the OP decides what they want to do. my advice is based on what I would do. – Mircea Jun 11 '15 at 5:02

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