JOB SEARCH / DEC. 12, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Find a Job When You Have a Criminal Record

Finding a job is tough enough, and if you have a criminal record, you have an extra challenge. Even if you’ve completely changed your behaviour, and have the skills and experience for a particular job, some employers will hesitate offering a position if they know about your criminal record. This can be discouraging, and it might take you longer than the average person to find work. But there are ways to find a job when you have a criminal record.

1. Get the offense expunged from your record

Some people lie about a criminal record betting on the fact that an employer won’t conduct a background check. But if you lie and the employer discovers your omission, you might as well kiss that job goodbye. But if you get the offense expunged from your record, you don’t have to lie. Speak with your probation officer or a lawyer and discuss options for getting an offense removed from your record. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth looking into.

2. Work for someone you know

A criminal record doesn’t prevent work, but it makes it difficult to get hired. And sometimes, nepotism can work in your favor. Getting hired by someone you know is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. Since you’ve already earned their trust, they might be more willing to take a chance. If you know any business owners or hiring managers, let them know about your situation, and ask them to keep your name in mind if positions become available.

3. Don’t apply for jobs you aren’t likely to get

Depending on the offense, you may automatically be disqualified for some positions, namely those that require some type of security clearance. For example, if you have a history of bank fraud, credit card fraud or any type of money scams, don’t apply for jobs in the banking or finance industry. These companies will likely run a background check, and because of your issues with money, they won’t take any chances.

4. Start at the bottom

It’s hard to find a job with a criminal record, you might be able to get your foot in the door with a volunteer position or internship, or any position that normally involves a lot of supervision. As you earn the company’s trust, you might become a good candidate for future openings. Sometimes, getting a job with a criminal record is all about winning the trust of your employer.

5. Explain yourself

If you’re able to get a job interview, the interviewer will learn about your criminal record from your application. He may bring it up and ask for more details. This is an opportunity to explain yourself and sell yourself. If the offense occurred many years ago and you’re a better person now, let the interviewer know how things have changed since you have committed the offense. Depending on how long the criminal offense took place, some companies may chalk it up to youthful mistakes and focus on your present behavior and actions.

6. Employee yourself

If you can’t find a job, look for ways to make money on your own. Think about your special skills or talents. If you have a background in English or excellent writing skills, perhaps you can earn income as a freelance writer. Other options may include starting a lawn care business, an online business, etc. However, you might avoid certain businesses depending on your criminal background. For example, if you had a problems with theft, starting an office cleaning business or a house cleaning business probably isn’t the best match. If potential clients run a background check, they may be uncomfortable giving you a key to their home or business.

7. Join the military

A criminal history does not automatically disqualify you from joining the military. Depending on the offense and how long it took place, you may receive a waiver to enlist in the military, which can be the answer to your employment woes. Speak with a recruiter to see if your offense qualifies for a waiver.

Everyone needs a job, but unfortunately, a criminal record can create challenges during your job search. It might be hard to find a job, and it can even take years to find suitable employment, but don’t give up.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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