It’s hard enough finding a job when you don’t have a criminal record, but it’s even more difficult when you do have one. Whether you spent time in prison or have a simple misdemeanor arrest on your record employers may shy away from hiring you. Unfortunately, you don’t have any control over how employers approach job candidates, but you do have control over how you approach employers. As long as you’re prepared, persistent and professional you’ll eventually be able to find a job. Here are a few tips that can help job seekers who have a criminal record.
Attempt To Have Your Record Expunged
Not all criminal records can be expunged or sealed, but some can. Depending on the state you live in and the crime(s) you have been convicted of, you may be able to get your criminal past expunged.
Expunging or sealing your record doesn’t mean that your criminal history is completely erased, but it does mean that only certain people have access to your records. Employers are not able to see your criminal records if they have been expunged, and an expunged record allows you to honestly tell employers that you have never been convicted of a crime.
Take Advantage Of Re-Entry Programs
There are many national and local programs available to help former inmates find a job and re-enter society. These programs often provide education, job training and support to people with criminal records. Additionally, they connect employers with job seekers who have a criminal record, making it easier for you to get a foot in the door.
Search online or contact local labor organizations to find re-entry programs in your area. It might also be helpful to contact your local probation office, they are often tasked with helping probationers and parolees find work.
Be Upfront And Honest
Having a criminal record is already a strike against you when looking for a job, but don’t compound that strike by trying to hide your criminal past. If you have a criminal record, it’s best to disclose it upfront rather than have a potential employer wonder why you were trying to hide it from them.
A 2013 survey of employers reported that criminal records were the reason job candidates didn’t get a job only 5% of the time. While this number is probably low, it goes to show that qualifications, references, and interview readiness are typically more important than a past criminal record. However, by not disclosing your criminal record you could be sending the wrong message to the employer. In the same survey, 52% of employers were more inclined to hire someone who was upfront about their record.
The point is, be honest and upfront. The employer is almost certainly going to find out about your criminal record anyway and it will look better if you’re the one to let them know about it.
Be Realistic About The Jobs You Apply For
The law states that employers can’t use a criminal record as the sole reason for not hiring you unless your offence makes it evident that you cannot be trusted for the particular job for which you’re applying. Unfortunately, the law and the real world don’t always see eye-to-eye, and trying to prove that a company didn’t offer you a job strictly because of your criminal record is usually a fool’s errand.
It’s important to be realistic about the jobs you’re applying for. If you know that a criminal record will conflict with the job, it’s best to spend your time pursuing other job opportunities.
Don’t Be Afraid To Network
We all know places where the only way you can be hired is if you know someone who already works there. When you have a criminal record, knowing someone who works in the industry or at the company you’re applying to is often the best way to find employment. Network on social media, join groups or associations related to your industry, or simply ask friends or family who work in the industry to put in a good word for you. Be polite, be professional, and make connections with people who are in a position to help you get your foot in the door.
Finding a job isn’t easy for anyone these days, but it can be especially difficult for people who have a criminal record weighing them down. The key to finding a job when you have a record is persistence and a positive attitude. Even though your job search is likely to be more difficult than someone who doesn’t have a record, there is a job out there for you, but it’s up to you to go out and find it.