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Can I Get A Job Without A Background Check?


Everyone makes mistakes that could come back to bite them. However, some mistakes can make it hard to get a job.

We asked our career experts to give their thoughts on handling this situation from one of our readers:

“I was recently convicted of a Misdemeanor B. I am having a very hard time finding a new work. I am a Jewish guy, recently went to Culinary School, and I am trying to turn my life around. Can I get a job without a background check? Where can I look for a career that will not have any serious background checks and how much information do I have to give?”

Here’s what our experts had to say about the matter:

“If you’re explicitly asked about your criminal history, be up front, but I wouldn’t volunteer the information just to share it. One more piece of advice – don’t let your past define you. You have a lot of living left to do!” (Ben Eubanks)

“The majority of organizations aren’t too concerned about misdemeanors, unless they involve injury or theft. Most companies are more concerned about felonies, so don’t be too overly worried about a misdemeanor. Be honest and admit it but it most likely won’t cost you a job.” (Stacy Harshman)

“The only way to deal with a criminal record is to be honest and upfront about it.  An employer cannot do a background check until they have your Social Security number and your permission.  When and if you give it, that is the time to tell them what happened. (Unless, of course, there is a gap on your resume and they ask for an explanation.)  Don’t talk a lot and keep to the facts.” (Bruce Hurwitz)

“I would advise [you] to be up front with a potential employer. If they look hard enough, they will find [your] criminal record anyway.” (Bud Bilanich)

“By acknowledging the issue, addressing it, showing what was learned from it, and then immediately moving into connecting what the candidate has to offer to the employer, this person shows integrity. Another thing they might want to look into is that many states have Project Clean Slate which is a process by which criminal records can get expunged.” (Dawn Rasmussen)

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ariella Coombs

Ariella is the Content Manager for CAREEREALISM. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.


  1. The main thing to remember is that you’re dealing with people. Forget what the comapany policy is and forget about the crime. (Unless it was less than 10 years ago) People have ingrained predujices that nothing will change. People easily forget that while a convicted drug dealer is trying to turn his life around, last weekend they did a speedball in the back of the club or smoked pot with a friend on the boat.

    The question a person with a conviction be it petty or felony is this: What value do I bring to this interview, the position, and the company itself. (This is not a magic elixir but understanding your worth and not being shackled to your past mistake or mistakes is key). What can and will you do for the organization after you’re hired? AND NO…DO NOT BRING UP A CONVICTION BEFORE YOU’RE ASKED. It’s bad enough most peolple interviewing don’t know how to interview a person or even the point of the interview. It makes no sense to throw up pointless, additional roadblocks for yourself.

    There are plently of felons currently working in large fortune 500 companies that simply have not gotten caught yet. If corporations used outside and impartial entities to gauge the moral validity of their employees, they’d lose 30 to 40% annually based on how they judge others outside of the org.

  2. I am someone with a 15 year old felony. First and only time ever arrested. Any time I had to answer the question “have you ever been arrested” I have never been asked for an interview. You should look for the companies that don’t ask, or as you get more time between you and your conviction, look for “have you been arrested in the last seven years”. Unfortunately, otherwise you are just wasting your time. I don’t care what people say about being honest and strait forward. I’m speaking to you from experience. Finding someone who will overlook your past is like finding a needle in a haystack.

  3. As an employment recruiter, I work with clients for 4 months sometimes up to 1 yr. I get a real sense of who the person is behind the illegal or wrong activity.
    I ask companies all day long would they consider hiring someone with a criminal background. Employers say no, or if it’s in the process of being expunged and they apply for the job, they rather not see anything on the background even if I vouch for them. So I beg the question, which no can has answered ” WHAT DO EMPLOYERS REALLY WANT?”

  4. The fact you’re asking for help means you WANT help – that’s phenomenal!

    We’ll do what we can, and it may be personally painful to even think about.

    Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring company, and pretend your own child will be working next to you all day if you got the job.

    Can you be trusted to work next to my child all day? If so, WHY?

    Are you still associating with any people from that past (if appropriate)?

    What are you doing to prevent this from ever happening again?

    What else would you want to know?

    – The truth, in small, direct sentences. Include what it has cost you personally. If your crime has you under parole, I highly recommend asking for counseling, and discuss with him/her how to best present the truth about the crime, the way a concerned parent would want to hear and understand it.

    – How you now feel about it, honestly. I’ve yet to meet a person who hasn’t done something illegal/wrong, and not felt guilty about it for the rest of their lives. If you could go back and stop yourself, you probably would, given what you know now. The best *anyone* can do is to acknowledge the past mistake and do everything you can to avoid any future mistakes.

    If you have the strength and courage, prepare some answers for these questions:

    What kinds of risks do you represent?

    – To the business (not only cash, but also possible animosity held by others)
    – To the co-workers
    – To the customers
    – To your own well being

    Lastly, if someone already at the company has priors, they may not be able to hire you, simply because of that person’s parole or limitations. You’re not the only one around with a misdemeanor history…

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