If you have recently been convicted of a crime and are in the process of looking for a job, you may be understandably concerned. After all, many employers these days require applicants to submit to criminal background checks before hiring. If a potential employer discovers your criminal record, you may have a harder time securing a job.
The good news? There are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances of getting hired—even with a criminal record.
Will a Conviction Keep You From Landing a Job?
First, it’s important to understand exactly what information an employer can find out about your criminal record. If you submit to a criminal background check, an employer will likely find information about any past arrests, convictions, and pleas. This applies to both misdemeanor and felony charges.
Employers have the option to run a nation-wide background check or to limit search results to the state in which the business operates. If your conviction occurred in another state, it may not come up on the background check. Still, if you are asked about a criminal history on an employment application, you should disclose any and all convictions (regardless of where they occurred).
Keep in mind that if you’ve had past criminal charges sealed or expunged from your record, these will not show up on a criminal background check. Likewise, employers are prohibited by law from asking job applicants about sealed/expunged convictions.
Even if you do have a criminal history that shows up on a background check, this may not automatically disqualify you from being offered the job. Most hiring managers will take several factors into account when considering a criminal conviction, such as how long ago the crime occurred, the severity of the crime, and how relevant the conviction is to the job itself. With this in mind, it is still very possible to land a job with a criminal record.
Tips for Job Hunting After a Conviction
Now that you have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities when it comes to disclosing criminal history to potential employers, there are some practical tips you can follow as you begin your job search. With these tips in mind, you can increase your chances of landing a job regardless of your past.
First and foremost, remember that honesty is always the best policy. While some employers may not explicitly ask about your criminal history until later in the interview/hiring process, you should disclose your criminal history if and when you are asked about it. Just be careful not to share too much information when disclosing a criminal record; if your potential employer wants more details, they can always run a background check.
Before you even begin applying for jobs, it’s also a good idea to see where you stand by running a criminal background check on yourself. This will only cost you maybe $50 or so, but will help you get a better idea of exactly what a potential hiring manager will see when they run a background check on you. It’s also possible that your record may have errors on it, so you’ll want to be aware of these and dispute them promptly.
Last but not least, there are steps you can take to market yourself even with a criminal history. Make sure that you include plenty of references (both personal and professional) on your resume. These should be people who can speak to your character and work ethic favorably. Likewise, be sure to highlight your skills and accomplishments as much as possible on your resume.
Explore Record Sealing or Expungement Options
Another option to consider when it comes to bettering your employment opportunities after a criminal conviction is to explore having your criminal record sealed or expunged. This is an option that is available in all states, though each state has its own specific laws and restrictions in place. When a criminal record is sealed or expunged, you do not have to disclose the information in a job application and it will not come up in a criminal background check.
Keep in mind, however, that this option is generally only offered to first-time offenders—and it is usually only available for misdemeanor charges. If you have a serious felony conviction on your record or if you are a repeat offender, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to have any of your convictions sealed.
Get Help From an Experienced Legal Team
If you’re interested in exploring expungement and/or record-sealing options, our legal team is here to help. Likewise, if you believe your rights have been violated in your job search, we’re here to represent you. Reach out to Owen Kalis and his legal team today by calling (937) 239-9989 to schedule your free case evaluation and consultation.