How To Find A Job With A Criminal Record

In today’s job market, finding employment can be a difficult, lengthy, and extremely competitive process. As of May 2013, the median unemployment duration in the United States was just over 17 weeks. On average, 118 people apply for any given job opening, with only twenty-percent making it to an interview.

Related: How To Prepare Yourself For A Background Check

For those with criminal records – about 65 million Americans according to some estimates – the outlook is even less promising. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that “a person cannot be denied employment based on a criminal record alone,” a criminal history undoubtable has a major impact on the hiring process for many businesses.

According to a Princeton study, job applicants with a criminal conviction are nearly 50 percent less likely to be called back or receive a job offer. In fact, many large companies have blanket no-hire policies (the legality of which is a different post altogether).

So, when you’re trying to find a job with a criminal record, what are your options?

Flat Out Lie

Lying on your application may get you an interview. However, even if you blow your potential employer away, this one will probably come back to haunt you. Depending on where you look, statistics show between 73 and 80 percent of employers run criminal background checks on all potential employees. If your record wasn’t a deal breaker before, getting caught lying about it almost certainly will be.

Disclose Your Record And Hope For The Best

When applying for jobs, answer all question about criminal chargers and convictions on applications and in interviews truthfully. As painful as it may be, honesty truly is the best policy. It may take you longer to find a job, but you won’t have the rug yanked out from under you in the event of a surprise background check.

How To Find A Job With A Criminal Record

If you truly want to move forward with your life and remove potential barriers from your career path, here are a few steps you can take:

Request A Copy Of Your Criminal History Record

If there are mistakes or incorrect information on your record, you may be able to submit a challenge request to the FBI or the respective state repository. In many cases, companies that provide criminal background screenings provide inaccurate information. This can be anything from mismatching names or omitting crucial information to reporting a misdemeanor as a felony.

Seek To Expunge Or Seal Records

Expungement and sealing of records are both procedures that prevent or limit access to an individual’s arrest or criminal court records. For job seekers, this can be extremely helpful as expunged or sealed records are not accessible to employers. In certain cases, you may be able to legally answer ‘no’ to the question “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

However, each state has it’s own guidelines and record sealing laws and not all offenses are eligible for expungement. Some states do not allow expungement at all. You can find out where you stand by checking with your county’s criminal court or contacting an attorney and asking about expungement eligibility and procedure.

Search Openings At Companies That Offer Second Chances

Not all companies will automatically throw out your application. has compiled a list of companies that regularly welcome new hires with checkered pasts. In addition, many states and organizations offer programs that can help you in your job search.

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